Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: Four Other Ways to Study Matthew

Each section below has 8 possible studies. You may be planning to have more meetings than this. Or you may be planning to have fewer meetings than this. If so, choose what is best for your group. The 4 ways are ideas for you to consider.

1. A general study of the whole book

God became human for us (1:18–25).

The test (4:1–11).

Right attitudes (5:1–6).

Worry and how to avoid it (6:25–34).

The Messiah gave a big meal. He walked on water too (14:13–36).

We are waiting for Jesus to return (24:1–14).

The death of Jesus (27:27–56).

We must believe the evidence (27:57–28:15).

2. Studies of the Sermon (talk) on the mountain

Right attitudes (5:1–6).

Be careful! There will be people who will oppose us (5:10–12).

Salt and light (5:13–16).

Adultery (sex with someone who is married to someone else) and divorce (5:27–32) See notes below.

Real prayer (6:5–15)

Fasting and Giving (6: 16- 24)

Worry and how to avoid it (6:25–34).

Be careful how you tell people about their bad habits (7:1–12).

Be careful! A building may look good. But it may not be safe (7:24–29).

When you say a strong promise (an oath). When you do more than you need to do (5:33–42).

3. A selection of parables

We should listen to Jesus (the story about the farmer) (13:1–11).

Good people and bad people can live next to each other (the weeds) (13:24–30, 36–43).

To care and to forgive (the wicked servant) (18:15–35).

God is king. He gives *grace (the workers in the field) (20:1–19).

A message for all nations (the wedding big meal) (22:1–14).

Jesus will come again. So be ready! (The 10 girls) (24:36–25:13).

Jesus wants us to serve him loyally (the gifts) (25:14–30).

Serve God in ordinary activities (the sheep and the goats) (25:31–46).

4. Jesus suffers and dies

The last 8 studies are about chapters 26 to 28. These would be an excellent series at Easter time.

All these outlines are only ideas. You do not need to follow them exactly. Perhaps you will choose not to follow them at all. Use your own ideas. There is something important for the leader to do. You should read the whole book of Matthew carefully. Then you can ask your group to refer to sections that they have not read. There is something else. You might decide to study only part of a chapter. But the group should still read the whole chapter together. This would help everyone to understand the verses that you, as leader, have chosen.

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: Go and Make Disciples

Matthew 28:16–20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Go and make disciples from all the people in the world.

This is the happy end to Matthew’s book of Good News. It prepares the way for the future. Jesus said that his disciples would do even ‘greater things’ than he himself had done. (Read John 14:12.)

The last words of Matthew’s book are for all Christians. (Actually, the whole book is for all believers.) Jesus was talking to the 11 disciples (verse 16). But what he says is for all his disciples ‘until the end of the world’ (verse 20b). So, these words are not mainly for leaders. They are for each believer. We may say that we are Christians. Then we must obey his command.

There is only one command in these verses. It is: ‘Make*disciples’ (verse 19). It is the responsibility of all believers. Of course, we must know what it means to be a disciple. Then, we must know how we can ‘make’ a disciple. Jesus explained:

►  We must go. It is the first of three actions to achieve our aim. (Our aim is to ‘make disciples’.) Where we go depends on the gifts that God has given to us. We can start with our friends and neighbours. There are the people with whom we work too. God might ask us to go to another country. We call those who do this ‘missionaries’. But the job is the same. So, we are all missionaries, in the place where God wants us to be.

►  We must baptize. Baptism is a sign that a person is a Christian. Other people can see that a person is joining with God’s people.

►  We must teach all the things that Jesus taught us to obey. We do not teach truths that are just ideas. We teach truths that change lives. They are truths that have already changed our lives. So, we show people by the way that we live. And we speak to these people too. This is how we ‘make disciples’. How we live must show that our message is true.

So, we must decide what is the best way to tell people the Good News (gospel). We must each decide this. And we must decide it as members of a church. This is our responsibility. Jesus tells us why he has asked us to do this. He has ‘all authority in heaven and on earth’ (verse 18). He is master of all. That is why he is called Lord Jesus. So, all people have a duty to serve him.

But Jesus knows what we are like. So, he tells us two things. First, he gives us the promise of his power. (See verses 18–19. All power belongs to Jesus. And he will give us all the power that we need.) We cannot know the exact reason why some disciples had doubts (verse 17). Perhaps it does not matter. This is because we learn what the first disciples were like. They were weak, nervous people, just like we are. We could not achieve any good thing if we trusted ourselves. This is a comfort to know.

We have no resources of our own. But we have the resources of Someone who has all power. That is sufficient. As believers, we expect so little. This is because we doubt the words of the Lord Jesus. He does not promise constant success. But he does encourage us to expect results. (Although there may be a long delay.)

Then, Jesus gives us the promise that he is with us (verse 20). And he promises that he will always be with us. This does not only make us happy. It gives us the resources for our task. And what wonderful resources they are. He gives us his power. But he does not just leave us to do the job. No, he himself comes with us. So, there is always a minimum of two of us! There might be hard times. There might be times of joy and success. Whatever happens, he is next to us. What a comfort it is to know this.


1. What tasks must I do on my own (but with the help of Jesus)? What tasks must two people or a group of people do? What can we learn from the answers?

2. Someone has said that churches exist for the benefit of non-members. How much is this true of your church group?

3. The Lord Jesus told us to go to ‘all people everywhere’. Christians seem to concentrate most on Africa and Asia. Why is this true? What other places need help?

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew:We Must Believe the Evidence.

Matthew 27:57–28:15

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Jesus became alive again. Matthew gives some of the evidence. He reminds us that unbelief is foolish.

These verses, (with 28:16–20), are the final section of Matthew’s book. There are 5 paragraphs:

            27:57–61: Jesus was dead: Joseph buried his body.

            27:62–66: There were special guards for the grave.

            28:1–10: The grave was empty and the Lord Jesus was alive.

            28:11–15: The guards made a report.

            28:16–20: Jesus is alive. He is the greatest ruler, with all power and authority.

Jesus became alive again in order to rule. This was especially true of the first 4 paragraphs. They emphasized two facts. First, they emphasized that the grave was empty. Then, they emphasized that people saw Jesus alive.

Matthew emphasized the strong evidence that Jesus is alive. He did this in several ways.

►  Some women were the first people to see that the grave was empty (28:6). They had watched Joseph put Jesus’ body in the cave (27:61). So, they certainly knew where to find the right place.

►  The religious leaders could not deny that the grave was empty. Jesus had told them that he would become alive again. So they had tried hard to make sure that Jesus stayed in the grave. They did not want his disciples to take away his body. (Read 27:62–66.) But the guards themselves said that the body was not there (28:11).

►  The guards were at the grave (28:2–4). So the religious leaders’ excuse was false. This was clear. The guards would not all be asleep. If they were, there is something that we cannot explain. They could not know that the disciples stole the body!

►  Some people say that Jesus was not dead. They say that the cool grave made him better. They say that this event could explain the guards’ reaction. But the guards had put a special seal (lock) on the stone. They did this from the outside of the grave. So, Jesus could not have opened it from the inside. And he would not have been able to move the heavy stone. (Read verses 60 and 66.)

Jesus is alive!

This passage is not just about the empty grave. It is about the fact that they saw Jesus in his body (verses 8–10). That was what convinced Jesus’ disciples. They actually met him. He was not a ghost. (A ghost looks like a dead person but it is not real.) He had a body. They could touch him. They could hold onto him.

Matthew’s book was not the only one. Anyway, it gives strong proof that Jesus is alive. Dead men do not become alive again. But this man became alive again.

This passage also shows that unbelief is foolish. There is strong evidence that Jesus is alive. But some men and women, (then and now), do not believe it. Some people have never thought much about the matter. But, for the majority of people, there is another reason. They do not want to believe it. People at the time saw the empty grave. They could not explain why it was empty. Jesus had said that he would become alive again. But they would not believe this. Men and women can refuse to believe what they do not want to believe.

The religious leaders at the time of Jesus were like this. They did not care about the truth. (They showed that when Jesus had to stand in front of them.) So, even strong evidence was not enough. Their answer was to invent a story. But the story that they invented was hard to believe. It would have been easier to believe that Jesus did become alive again. Men and women are the same today. They refuse to believe the truth. Instead, they accuse Christians. They say that Christians are telling lies (27:64). That is exactly what they are doing themselves.

It can be hard to understand why this happens. The religious leaders at that time would not accept Jesus. The reason for this was pride. They were selfish. This is true of all men and women. They could accept Jesus. But this would mean that they must allow God to rule in their lives. Think about Adam and Eve. They wanted to be like God. (Read Genesis 3:4.) Ever since that time, some people have not wanted to allow God to rule them.


1. What reasons can you give for the truth that Jesus is alive?

2. Some religious people today are like the people in Jesus’ time. It is a fact that Jesus became alive again. But these people think that it is not necessary to believe this. Why do they think this? Would it matter if Jesus had not become alive again? (Read 1 Corinthians 15.)

3. In many countries, there are traditional stories. They tell about gods and about people who die. Then these people become alive again. What is the difference between them and Jesus?

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: The Death of Jesus

Matthew 27:27–56

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[c] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[d] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Matthew emphasized the way that people laughed at Jesus. They insulted him. There were Gentile (non-Jewish) soldiers. There were Jews who stood and watched. There were the Jewish religious leaders. Also there were even criminals. They all refused to accept Jesus.

People thought that Jesus had no worth. They refused to accept him. They laughed about two things. First, they laughed about the things that he had said about himself (verse 43). Next, they laughed about his actions. The things that he had said about himself were wonderful. The people reminded him about them. He had said that he was king of the Jews (verses 29, 37). He had said that he would build the new Temple (verse 40). He had said that he was the Son of God (verse 43). But his great acts should have been proof enough. They should have caused people to examine the facts. However, people did not do it then. They do not do it now.

One phrase shows Jesus’ real worth. It is ‘the Son of God’ (verse 54). The soldier may not have understood its full meaning. But Matthew and the other New Testament writers want us to know it. Jesus had all God’s nature. Jesus was really God who became a man. He was ‘Immanuel, God is with us’. (Read Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14.)

So, nothing else is like our Christian faith. God showed himself to all people. When people looked at God’s Son, they saw God. In this passage, Matthew teaches 4 great truths about Jesus’ work.

►  Jesus wanted to save other people. So he refused to save himself (verse 42). There was a great truth in what the religious leaders said. Jesus chose not to save himself.

►  Jesus suffered because of sin (verses 45–46). These two verses emphasize that Jesus took the punishment for our sin. In the Bible, darkness is often the sign of punishment for sin. So, darkness in that country as Jesus died was a sign. It showed the fact that Jesus was taking our sin upon himself. We deserve God’s punishment because of our sin. At the cross, Jesus suffered that punishment for us. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21.)

But verse 46 teaches another truth. God had to turn away from his Son, Jesus. This broke the unity of God. We cannot understand this mystery. But we can understand the lesson that it teaches. It teaches that sin is a very serious matter. Also it teaches about God’s great love for sinners. It hurt the Father and the Son so much. But they did it for us. Now, we can be free from the punishment for sin.

►  Jesus brought two great benefits to all who follow him (verse 51). First, we can know that God forgives us. Then we can come close to God. The curtain in the Temple was a sign. It showed that sin had separated people from God. The High Priest could go behind that curtain only once a year. But first he had to offer a sacrifice for sin. (Compare Leviticus chapter 16 with Hebrews chapter 9 and 10:19–22.) Jesus was the final sacrifice for sin. Now we can come to God freely.

►  Jesus ended the terrible results of sin (verses 52, 53). This wonderful event reminds us about something important. It is that if people sin, God must punish them. And they will die. (Read Romans 6:23.) Jesus died and came back to life. This means that we need not die. It is true that our bodies still die. But what happened to Jesus is God’s promise to us. We will come back to life again. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:1–23 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18.) There will be a new heaven and a new earth too. (Read Revelation 21:1–5.)


1. Imagine that you are the soldier. You are watching Jesus who is on the cross. What do you see? What do you think about Jesus? Some speakers talk in detail about the awful physical pain of the cross. Do you think that this is right?

2. People have used art to show the death of Jesus. They have done this in each century. Do these pictures help us to understand why Jesus died? In what ways are they helpful or unhelpful?

3. What are the most important things that are true in the Christian message? If someone asked you this question, what would you say? Say it briefly. Say it in words that non-Christians would understand.

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: Jesus’ Trail

Jesus deals with a difficult situation.

Matthew 27:1–26

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”[a]

Jesus Before Pilate

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Matthew recorded the events.of the the death of Judas and the trail of Jesus. Some men and women are completely against Jesus. The Jewish leaders were like this. They wanted very much to kill Jesus. But the ruler and his wife knew that Jesus was innocent. None of the things that people said against Jesus was true (verses 19, 24). The Jewish leaders were jealous of Jesus. So they hated him. That was why they wanted to kill him.

Other men and women would have to give up selfish things. And they were not prepared to do this. Pilate was like this. He knew why the religious leaders hated Jesus (verse 18). But he chose not to understand Jesus completely. Pilate had selfish ambitions. We know from history that he was a proud and cruel man. Later, the entire Jewish nation was against him. So, he had to return to Rome. Even at this time, he hated the Jews. He did not want to listen to them.

Some men and women are not always loyal to Jesus. They change their minds easily. This was true about the crowd. (Read verses 20–25.) Only a few days before, they had welcomed Jesus. They had behaved as if he was the Messiah. (Read 21:1–11.) Now they demanded that he should die. We do not understand how they could change so quickly. Jesus had helped them so much. He healed them. He fed them and he taught them. Now, it seemed to them that he had failed. He was not doing what they wanted him to do. So, they did not care about him any more.

Other people respect Jesus in another way. They think that he could cause them to have good luck or bad luck. The word for this is to be superstitious. So they think that they must deal with him carefully. This seemed to be true about Pilate’s wife (verse 9). Her dream had upset her. So she acted. We do not know the reason. She may have wanted to keep Jesus safe. Or she may have worried about her husband’s safety. We do not know what happened to her. Probably, her worry ended when her dream did not seem so real.

Finally, some people seem to be sorry for their sin. But they do not repent. This was true about Judas. (Read verses 3–10.) He regretted his action. He knew, in his conscience, that he had done wrong. He may even have cried about it. But he did not repent.


1. What is your faith in Jesus like? Do you only trust him to supply what you need? What else should you trust him for?

2. Some Christians only follow Jesus when things are going well in their lives. How could you help them to have real faith?

3. Evil things happen in legal matters today. Think about what happened to Jesus all those years ago. Should we say anything when things like that happen now? Should we do anything?

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: Who Is Jesus

Matthew 26:57–75

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.

Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”[a]

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Peter Disowns Jesus

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Matthew described how Jesus had to stand in front of the Jewish leaders. This happened in the Jewish Council. There was a reason why Matthew described this. He was emphasizing what Jesus said about himself. He was also comparing Jesus and Peter. Jesus was bold. Peter was a coward. He said that he did not know Jesus. He even said it three times.

The soldiers arrested Jesus. First, they took him to Annas. Annas had been the Chief Priest. He asked Jesus questions. Then Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, who asked him questions too. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest at the time. He was also married to Annas’ daughter. (Read John 18:12–14, 19–23.) After this, all the members of the Council asked Jesus questions. (Read Matthew 26:57, 59–67.)

Early the next morning, all the members of the Council met together. They had to decide what Jesus had done wrong. (Read Matthew 27:1–2.) They were asking a question. It was: ‘Who is Jesus?’ The verses in this section give the answer of Jesus himself.

►  Jesus is the Messiah (verses 63–64). The Old Testament often told about the Messiah. He would save God’s people. The Jews were waiting for him eagerly. They were expecting him to come. Jesus said that he was the Messiah. Jesus came to save (rescue) men and women from the punishment of sin. The Jews had ignored this. They wanted the Messiah to save them from their enemies, who were the Romans.

►  Jesus is the Son of God. Read 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2:7. These passages introduced an idea. It was that the Messiah would be the ‘Son of God’. Perhaps the Jews did not understand this. But Jesus’ teaching introduced the idea to them too. (Read Matthew 21:37.) Perhaps this was why Caiaphas demanded a clear answer from Jesus (26:63). Jesus gave him that clear answer (verse 64). The rest of the New Testament answers clearly too. Jesus really is ‘Immanuel’. This means ‘God is with us’. (Read Isaiah 7:14.)

►  Jesus also said that he was the Son of Man (verse 64). Jesus showed the Jews that their idea of the Messiah was not complete. They expected their Messiah to defeat the Romans. Jesus came to suffer and to die. These things would show his authority. Jesus repeated Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 (verse 64). These passages explain more about what he meant.

►  Jesus is the builder of the new Temple (verses 60–61). The Jews did not understand what Jesus had said. Jesus did not deny that he had said it (verses 62–63). But they did not know what he meant. He was referring to his own body. (Read John 2:19–21.)

But there was a future event too. It could add further meaning to his words. Read 1 Corinthians 6:14–15, 19. The new Temple would be a Temple that human hands had not made. (Read Mark 14:58.) It happened when the Holy Spirit came. (Read Acts 2.) From that time, all real believers (Christians) are called ‘Christ’s body’. This is the real meaning of ‘the Church’. It is not a building. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:12–28.) Jesus said: ‘I will build my church.’ (Read Matthew 16:18.)

►  Jesus has the greatest authority (verse 64). From now on, Jesus said, they would see that he was right. His Father would give them the evidence. Jesus would die; but he would come alive again. He would return to his Father. Then the Holy Spirit would come. After this, the number of real believers (the Church) would increase. This would happen even when people dealt with them very badly. All these things would show the truth of Jesus’ claims.

The reactions of men and women

First, people refused to accept Jesus. These verses do not describe a court of law. They describe a plot to murder Jesus. But the leaders pretended. They did not want to discover the truth. They intended to kill Jesus. Sinners hate truth, as some insects hate light. So they hate Jesus. They will ignore the facts and they will not obey him. But they will try to show that their attitude of unbelief is right.

Next, people were not loyal to Jesus. It was not only Judas who was against Jesus. None of Jesus’ disciples stayed loyal to him. Peter, especially, denied him (verses 69–75). Peter said that he did not even know Jesus. Something was even worse. In verse 74, Peter used very strong language. Some translations say that he even cursed Jesus. Other translations say that Peter cursed himself. So, he was asking God to hurt him if he was not telling the truth!

We can learn some lessons from this event. First, even a person who knows the truth sometimes denies Jesus. But there is comfort for that person. Peter was really sorry about what he had done. (Read verse 75. Compare 2 Corinthians 7:10.) So the words of Matthew 10:33 did not happen to him. In the same way, Jesus will always welcome anyone who really repents. That person need never fear that Jesus would not accept him or her.


1. The Jewish leaders had evidence about who Jesus was. But they chose to ignore it. They chose to follow their own opinions. How can we make sure that we are not like them?

2. Should we always obey the decisions of our church leaders? Talk about the times when you should obey them. Talk about a possible time when you should not obey them.

3. Think about the reactions of men and women to Jesus today. Describe the ways that you know about. What do you think are the reasons for each kind of reaction?

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: Your Will be Done

Matthew 26:31–56

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.


36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”[b]

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Jesus said: ‘I want your will to happen.’

These verses are very serious. They show that Jesus’ death was necessary. They describe clearly just how awful his death would be.

Verses 1–16 emphasized the fact of Jesus’ death. Verses 17–29 explained the reason for his death. These verses showed that his death was necessary. They showed, too, how awful that death would be.

The agony (extreme pain)

Read verses 36–42. They help us to see a little bit of what Jesus was suffering. But words cannot really describe just how terrible Jesus felt. Jesus felt that he was ‘very close to death’ even then. [Note: Luke was a doctor. In his book, he said that drops of blood from Jesus fell to the ground. This is in Luke 22:44. It is a medical state. It only happens with extreme pain of the emotions and of the mind.] Because of his extreme pain, Jesus wanted to be with his best friends.

Men and women know extreme pain and despair too. This happens especially when they will soon die. But Jesus’ pain was worse. Jesus was God as well as man. So, we may think that he could not feel the same agony as us. This passage shows us that the opposite is true. Jesus’ agony was greater. This was because he knew what would happen (verse 39). We do not know the future. If we did, we might not be able to bear the pain of it. So God is very kind to us.

But Jesus knew all that would happen. And something else made his extreme pain even worse. Jesus was the holy God. He hated sin. Now, he would be in the power of sinners (verse 45). He had created them. But they would kill him!

There was even more. Jesus knew that Judas would not be loyal. He would lead the enemies to Jesus. (Read verses 21–25 and 46–50.) Jesus knew, too, that his close friends would leave him. (Read verses 31–35 and 56b.) Finally, Jesus knew that he could escape. He could escape, if he chose to do that. (See verse 53. A legion was 6000 men.) But he knew that he would not do this. He chose to die.

The necessity

This passage emphasizes that it was necessary for Jesus to die. Jesus had peace in the time of his troubles. He had the strength to continue. But, like us, he did not want to die (verse 39). But the Father did not stop his Son from dying on the cross. This shows us that there was no other way. It was the only way to bring men and women to God. The NT writers understood this well. (Read Acts 4:12.) We can have peace with God only because of Jesus.

Even Jesus’ three closest friends left him. (Read verses 40–41.) All the disciples left him too. (Read verses 43, 45 and 56.) Jesus knew that men are weak. He knew it better that they did (verse 31)! Jesus knew everything that would happen. But he did not run away from it. He was the only person who could be as brave as that.

Finally, notice what Jesus was like on the way to the cross. He was so gentle and kind. He told his disciples that they would leave him. But he told them something else too. He would welcome them back afterwards (verse 32)! That was how it would always be.


1. Jesus forgives you when you do not trust him. Can you really say that you forgive yourself? It is hard for some people to forgive themselves. How could you help such a person?

2. Muslims say that Jesus cannot be the Son of God. This is because he suffered such extreme pain. What could you say to them?

3. How can one person’s death save other people from death?

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: The Last Supper

Matthew 26:17–30

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus said: ‘This is my blood.’

Jesus explained the meaning of his death. He would die soon. He explained this at his last supper.

The previous study showed the reactions of some people to Jesus. They were a contrast to Jesus. He showed that he had more power than all the people had. There is the same subject in this study, too. Jesus told his disciples what would happen. He said that one of them would give him to his enemies. Jesus knew which one of them it would be too (verse 25). Then Jesus told them more about how he would die.

Matthew repeated one word three times. It was the word ‘Passover’. (Exodus 12 describes its meaning.) The word was in verses 17, 18 and 19. Jesus was the person in charge at the meal. Matthew wanted us to understand this. (Read verses 26–30.)

Jesus had said when he was going to die. It would be at Passover. John’s Gospel tells us the exact time. Jesus died on the day before Passover. (Read John 19:14–18.) It was at the same time that people were killing the Passover lambs. (Note: lambs are young sheep.) So Jesus had his own Passover meal. It was a day earlier than the official event. But people seemed to use slightly different dates for the event. This was true during the time of Jesus.

The Passover had always shown Jesus’ death. And he wanted people to know it. His death gave the Passover its full meaning. We can learn three things from this:

►  Jesus died for the benefit of other people. That was true about the original Passover lamb. (Read Exodus 12:11–12.) Isaiah 52:13–53:12 also shows this.

►  Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin (verse 28). He died for other people, because they were sinners.

►  Jesus died to take the punishment that we should have. God hates sin. He must punish it. We all deserve that punishment. But Jesus took our place.

Jesus’ death is still good for us

This does not seem to be possible. So, many people do not believe it. But God can forgive sin. And he still forgives sin. Jesus took all the punishment for our sin. There can be no greater punishment than death. (Read Romans 6:23.) And Jesus died. So, each person can know that God really does forgive his or her sin. But there is more. God does not remember our sin. (Read Jeremiah 31:33–34.)

There is another reason why Jesus died. It was to make us God’s family and friends (verse 29). Jesus, the Messiah, described his great big meal. He was referring to a custom that took place in ancient times. Then, such a big meal was only for a person’s family and for friends. Jesus was speaking about a family relationship in verse 28. His words refer to Exodus 24:8. That was the time when God made the Jews become his family.

Jesus’ sacrifice was particular too. He died for many people (verse 28). This means that he did not die in general for everyone. His death is good for all who come to him. But Jesus died for each person. So, a believer (Christian) can say: ‘Jesus died for me.’ Jesus died for more people than we could ever count. What a wonderful thing Jesus did when he died! He could not have done anything more. He is the answer to all our needs. God accepts us. He forgives us. He gives us his peace and his love. And all this is because of Jesus’ death.

But we must receive the benefits of Jesus’ death (verse 26). We must ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ (verses 26–27). These words are signs. This means that they describe what we can do. We can share with Jesus in his death. We do this by a total trust in Jesus. We believe that his death is the only way to God.

Finally, this passage shows us that sin is a terrible thing. Judas may not have stayed for the special part of the Passover meal. There is some doubt about that. But other things are clear. Jesus told him the truth about his death. Jesus appealed to him in a gentle way. He showed his love for Judas. (Surely, that was the main purpose of verses 20–25.) But Judas still chose to be against Jesus. He knew that enemies wanted to kill Jesus. But he still led them to Jesus.


1. Someone might say: ‘God is a God of love. So he will not keep anybody out of heaven for ever.’ What could you say to that person?

2. Today, we still have the ‘Passover meal’ like the meal that Jesus had. We call it by different names. It could be the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Last Supper, or the Eucharist. What truths should you remember at this time? The truths about the special meal should have effects in your life. Does its effect depend on your thoughts at the time? Look again at Jesus’ teaching in this passage. Then discuss your ideas.

3. Jesus died for all the people in the world. (Read John 3:16.) So, why are they not all believers (Christians)?

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: Jesus’ Life on Earth was Drawing to an End

Matthew 26:1–16

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Jesus knew that his life on earth would end soon. Matthew now began to describe certain events. The final and greatest act of Jesus’ life was near (verse 2). Matthew told his story with great skill. He recorded several incidents.

First, Jesus chose to die. This contrasts with men’s evil plans. (Read verses 1–5.) Next, there was the action of the religious leaders. This contrasts with what Mary did. (Read verses 6–13.) Also, there was a contrast between Mary and Judas. (Read verses 14–16.)

Jesus chose to die for our sins. Nobody could force him to die. Earlier in his work, Jesus had said that he would die. (Read 16:21; 17:22–23 and 20:18–20.) But now he declared the time when he would die. He told his disciples the way that he would die too (verse 2). So, he emphasized that he was in total control. His death would not be just an accident. It was his plan and purpose to die. He would save his people from God’s punishment for their sin.

Jesus’ worst suffering now began. This was the greatest example of his teaching. His words in verse 1 probably applied to all of his teaching. But they certainly applied to the previous two chapters. Jesus showed his disciples that they must have unselfish love for people. (Read 25:31–46.) Now, Jesus showed his own love for all people. The rest of the section dealt with people’s reactions to Jesus. There were two bad examples. (Read verses 3–5 and 14–16.) But there was Mary’s good example. (Read verses 6–13.)

There was Caiaphas. He was the chief priest of the Jews. Writers of history in the first century described him. They said that he wanted power more than anything else. So, he did not like someone whose authority was greater than his authority. He felt that Jesus was a danger to him. His reactions were like those of some people today.

Matthew recorded a complete contrast. He gave a lovely example of real love for Jesus. (Read verses 6–13.) We can be grateful for Mary’s example. Like her, we can all show our love for Jesus in some way. Mary seemed to listen to Jesus better than most other people did. (Read Luke 10:38–42.)

Mary seemed to know that Jesus would die soon. The book of Mark records the name of the perfume. (This is a substance with its own special good smell.) Its name was spikenard. People used it to rub into dead bodies. Mary may not have realized the real meaning of her action. But Matthew gives the main reason why he recorded the story. It was because of her great act of love. In John 12:5, we learn that the perfume was worth 300 dinars. This was nearly a year’s wages.

The last case that Matthew recorded is in verses 14–16. We cannot be sure why Judas acted as he did. But Judas seemed to be disappointed with Jesus. Perhaps he thought that Jesus should have given him more. He was a disciple. Surely, he deserved some rewards. We cannot be sure about this. But there are people like that today.


1. Are you a person like Mary? Should we still show our love for Jesus in public?

2. We might copy Mary’s act when we are in church. But what would be wrong with that act today? It would be hard for it to be a natural act. It would be hard for it to have any reality. Could we really show our love like this? But we want to show our love for Jesus. So, what similar things could we do?

3. A person who is not loyal is sometimes called ‘a Judas’. Even people who do not know the Bible at all will sometimes use the words. Why did Judas behave like this to Jesus? Do we sometimes think as he did?

Bible Study Matthew

Matthew: Serve God Daily

Matthew 25:31–46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Serve God in ordinary activities

Real service for God is humble service just where we are.

Jesus appealed to his disciples:

•           to be ready (24:42)

•           to be expecting him to come (25:1–13)

•           to serve him (25:14–30).

This shows the sort of service that Jesus wants from his disciples.

Jesus used the same ideas that Daniel had used. (Read Daniel 7:13–14.) Jesus described a throne. (This is a king’s special chair.) Jesus will judge everyone (verses 31–32). This judgement will divide all people into two groups. It will depend on what they have done in their lives.

This story did not mention sins. God did not condemn one group of people because of their sins. He condemned them because of duties that they had neglected. (Read verses 41–43.)

Experts in the study of the Bible have an idea. A person can obey God by avoiding acts of sin. Or, that person can obey God in a definite way. He or she can try to do all the things that would please God. This was what Jesus seemed to be saying here. All Jesus’ real disciples should love people who are in need. Jesus still expects this (verses 37–39).

In ancient Israel, it was hard to tell the difference between sheep and goats. It is the same with Jesus’ disciples. They may seem to be very like each other. But on the Judgement Day he will show the truth. Some people have really served him. Other people have just said that they serve him. Look carefully at sheep and goats. They are very different. It is the same with the real disciple and the false disciple. Look carefully at them. They are very different too.

Jesus spoke about normal things, like when people are hungry and thirsty. He did this for a good reason. He did not talk about the very great problems of the world. He knew that most of his disciples could not solve them. So he spoke about things that happen every day. We must serve him in the way that we live every day.

People who live like this are special to Jesus. Jesus emphasized this. Small things that people do for him get big rewards (verse 34). We may only do a very small thing to help other people. But it is the same as if we did it for Jesus. That is what Jesus said (verse 40). But there was more. Only this sort of behavior will please him. This does not mean that God saves us because of what we do. But, when we serve God humbly, it proves our salvation. The opposite is true for those who fail to serve God humbly. It proves their sad end (verse 46).


1. What can you do today to serve Jesus? Do you need to change your plans because of what you answer? Explain why you would need to change your plans. Or explain why you would not need to change them.

2. In this parable, the master judged his slaves by their actions. He judged them by what they did. Or he judged them by what they did not do. The Bible teaches that our salvation is not because of what we do. It is because of what Jesus has done for us. (Read Ephesians 2:8–9.) How do these two things match?

3. Who does Jesus say are his ‘brothers’? (Read verses 40 and 45.) Are they all those people who are in need? Or are they all Christians? Think about what your answer means in a practical way.