Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 33: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MATTHEW 26:14-20; MARK 14:10-17;
14. Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, 15. And said to them, What will you give me, and I will deliver him to you? And they appointed to him thirty pieces of silver. 16. And from that time he sought an opportunity to betray him. 17. Now on the first day of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where dost thou wish us to prepare for you to eat the passover? 18. And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master saith, My time is near; I keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19. And the disciples did as Jesus commanded them, and prepared the passover. 179 20. And when the evening was come, he sat down at table with the twelve.
10. And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. 11. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised that they would give him money; and he sought how he might betray him at a convenient time. 12. And on the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the passover, his disciples say to him, Where dost thou wish us to go and prepare, that thou mayest eat the passover? 13. And he sendeth two of his disciples, and saith to them, Go into the city, and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher full of water: follow him. 14. And wherever he shall enter, say to the master of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guest-chamber, where I may eat the passover with my disciples? 15. And he will show you a large room furnished; there make ready for us. 16. And his disciples went away, and came into the city, and found as he had said to them, and made ready the passover. 17. And when the evening was come, he arrived with the twelve.
3. But Satan entered into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve. 4. And he went away, and talked with the chief priests and magistrates, how he would betray him to them. 5. And they were glad, and agreed that they would give him money. 6. And he promised, and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of the multitude. 7. And the day of unleavened bread came, when the passover must be sacrificed. 8. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare for us the passover, that we may eat. 9. And they said to him, Where dost thou wish us to prepare? 10. And he said to them, Lo, when you are going into the city, you will meet a man carrying an earthen pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he shall enter. 11. And you shall say to the master of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guest-chamber, where I may eat the passover with my disciples? 12. And he will show you a large room furnished; there make ready. 13. And they went, and found as he had said to them, and made ready the passover. 14. And when the hour was come, he sat down at table, and the twelve apostles with him.
Matthew 26:14. Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot. Christ’s admonition was so far from being of any avail for softening the heart of Judas, or producing any change in it for the better, that he immediately went away, without any concern, to transact an infamous bargain with his enemies. It was amazing and prodigious stupidity, that he considered himself to have found, in the expense of the ointment, a fair excuse for so heinous a crime; and next, that, after having been warned by the words of Christ, he did not perceive what he was doing. 180 The bare mention of the burying ought to have softened a heart of iron; for it would have been easy to infer from it, that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of the human race. But we see in this mirror how great is the blindness of wicked desires, and how powerfully they fascinate the mind. Judas was inflamed with the desire to steal; long practice had hardened him in wickedness; and now when he meets with no other prey, he does not scruple to betray basely to death the Son of God, the Author of life, and, though restrained by a holy admonition, rushes violently forward.
With good reason, therefore, does Luke expressly say that Satan entered into him; not that the Spirit of God formerly directed him, for he would not have been addicted to theft and robbery, if he had not been the slave of Satan. But Luke means, that he was at that time wholly given up to Satan, so that, like a desperate man, he violently sought his destruction. For though Satan drives us every day to crimes, and reigns in us, when he hurries us into a course of extraordinary wickedness; yet he is said to enter into the reprobate, when he takes possession of all their senses, overthrows the fear of God, extinguishes the light of reason, and destroys every feeling of shame. This extremity of vengeance God does not execute on any but those who are already devoted to destruction. Let us therefore learn to repent early, lest our long-continued harshness should confirm the reign of Satan within us; for as soon as we have been abandoned to this tyranny, his rage will have no bounds. It is particularly worthy of notice, that the cause and source of so great blindness in Judas was avarice, which makes it evident that it is justly denominated by Paul the root of all evils, (1Ti 6:10.) To inquire here whether or not Satan entered into Judas bodily is an idle speculation. We ought rather to consider how fearfully monstrous it is, that men formed after the image of God, and appointed to be temples for the Holy Spirit, should not only be turned into filthy stables or sinks, but should become the wretched abodes of Satan.
17. Now on the first day of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus. It is first inquired, Why does the day which preceded the sacrificing of the lamb receive the name of the day of unleavened bread? For the Law did not forbid the use of leaven till the lamb was eaten, (Ex 12:18.) But this difficulty may be speedily removed, for the phrase refers to the following day, as is sufficiently evident from Mark and Luke. Since, therefore, the day of killing and eating the passover was at hand, the disciples ask Christ where he wishes them to eat the passover.
But hence arises a more difficult question. How did Christ observe that ceremony on the day before the whole nation celebrated the public passover? For John plainly affirms that the day on which Christ was crucified was, among the Jews, the preparation, not of the Sabbath, but of the passover, (Joh 19:14;) and that
they did not enter into the hall of judgment, lest they should be defiled, because next day they were to eat the passover,
I am aware that there are some who resort to evasions, which do not, however, give them any relief; for no sophistry can set aside the fact; that, on the day they crucified Christ, they did not keep the feast, (when it would not have been lawful to have any public executions) and that they had, at that the a solemn preparation, so that they ate the passover after that Christ had been buried.
It comes now to be inquired, Why did Christ anticipate? For it must not be supposed that, in this ceremony, he took any liberty which was at variance with the prescriptions of the Law. As to the notion entertained by some, that the Jews, through their eagerness to put Christ to death, delayed the passover, it is ably refuted by Bucer, and, indeed, falls to the ground by its own absurdity. I have no doubt, therefore, that Christ observed the day appointed by the Law, and that the Jews followed a custom which had been long in use. First, it is beyond a doubt that Christ was put to death on the day before the Sabbath; for he was hastily buried before sunset in a sepulcher which was at hand, (Joh 19:42,) because it was necessary to abstain from work after the commencement of the evening. Now it is universally admitted that, by an ancient custom, when the passover and other festivals happened on Friday, they were delayed till the following day, because the people would have reckoned it hard to abstain from work on two successive days. The Jews maintain that this law was laid down immediately after the return of the people from the Babylonish captivity, and that it was done by a revelation from heaven, that they may not be thought to have made any change, of their own accord, in the commandments of God.
Now if it was the custom, at that time, to join two festivals in one, (as the Jews themselves admit, and as their ancient writings prove,) it is a highly probable conjecture that Christ, who celebrated the passover on the day before the Sabbath, observed the day prescribed by the Law; for we know how careful he was not to depart from a single iota of the Law. Having determined to be subject to the Law, that he might deliver us from its yoke, he did not forget this subjection at his latest hour; and therefore he would rather have chosen to omit an outward ceremony, than to transgress the ordinance which God had appointed, and thus lay himself open to the slanders of wicked men. Even the Jews themselves unquestionably will not deny that, whenever the Sabbath immediately followed the passover, it was on one day, instead of both, that they abstained from work, and that this was enjoined by the Rabbins. Hence it follows that Christ, in departing from the ordinary custom, attempted nothing contrary to the Law.
18. Go into the city to such a man. Matthew specifies a certain man; the other two Evangelists relate that the disciples were sent as to an unknown individual, because a sign was given to them of a man carrying a pitcher of water. But this difference is easily reconciled; for Matthew passing by the miracle, describes that man who was then unknown to the disciples; for it cannot be doubted that, when they came to the house, they found that it was one of their acquaintances. Christ enjoins him authoritatively to make ready a lodging for himself and his disciples, calling him master; and the man immediately complies But though he might have expressly pointed out the man by name, he chose rather to direct his disciples to him by a miracle, that, when they shortly afterwards saw him reduced to a state of weakness, their faith might remain firm, being supported by this evidence. It was no slight confirmation that, a few hours before he was put to death, he had given an undoubted proof that he was God, that they might know that he was not constrained by necessity, but yielded of his own accord. And though at the very time when the weariness occurred, this was perhaps of no advantage to them, yet the recollection of it was afterwards useful; as even in the present day, in order to rise above the offense of the cross, it is of great importance to us to know that, along with the weakness of the flesh, the glory of divinity appeared in Christ about the very time of his death.
My time is near. Though he celebrated the passover correctly according to the injunction of the Law, yet he appears to assign this reason for the express purpose of avoiding the blame of self-will. He says, therefore, that there are reasons why he must make haste, and not comply with a received custom, because he is called to a greater sacrifice. And yet, as we have said, he introduces no change in the ceremony, but repeats once and again, that the time of his death is near, in order to inform them that he hastens cheerfully to do what the Father had appointed. And as to his connecting the figure of the sacrifice with the reality, in this way he exhorted believers to compare with the ancient figures what he accomplished in reality. This comparison is highly fitted to illustrate the power and efficacy of his death; for the passover was enjoined on the Jews, not merely to remind them of an ancient deliverance, but also that they might expect future and more excellent deliverance from Christ. Such is the import of what Paul says, that
Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, (1Co 5:7.)
19. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them. The readiness with which the disciples comply ought to be observed as a proof of their holy submission; for a doubt might naturally arise, when in search of an unknown man, whether they would obtain from the master of the house what they asked by their Master’s command, while they were aware that everywhere he was not only despised but even hated. Yet they make no anxious inquiry about the result, but peaceably obey the injunction. And if we are desirous to have our faith approved, we ought to abide by this rule, to be satisfied with the command alone and go forward wherever God commands, and, expecting the success which he promises, not to indulge in excessive anxiety.
20. When the evening was come, he sat down at table. Not to eat the passover, which they were bound to do standing, as travelers, when they are in haste, are wont to take food hastily,
with shoes on their feet, and a staff in their hand,
but I consider the meaning to be, that after having observed the solemn rite, he sat down at table to supper. Accordingly, the Evangelists say, when the evening was come: for, at the commencement of the evening, they killed the lamb, and ate the flesh of it roasted.
“L'agneau ek pasque;” — “the passover lamb," or, as it is more generally expressed, “the paschal lamb."
“Que c’estoit qu’il alloit faire;” — “what he was going to do.”