This passage opens with Jesus giving instructions to the disciples about the arrangements for the Passover meal that remind us of His instructions to them in 21:1-3 about the arrangements for His entry into Jerusalem. After everything had been arranged, the scene opens at the meal itself. This narrative is broken into two sections, each beginning with the words “while they were eating”. The first, 26:20-25 is all about the betrayal of Jesus, the second (26:26-30) covers Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper.
Matthew’s account, though it gives these details, omits most of the details that John includes, such as Jesus’ washing their feet, and John’s lengthy account of the final discourses, and in this, Matthew is continuing the choppy pace that began at the beginning of this chapter; he reminds us a little of the way Mark covered most everything. Yet while he is leaving out some of the dramatic discussions of that evening, Matthew is once again focusing our attention on the ultimate mission of Jesus: His appointment with the cross.
In the first part, notice that when Jesus tells them that His betrayer is in their midst, the disciples are “sad” and say “surely you don’t mean me, Lord” (26:22). Matthew gives a direct quote from the denial of Judas in 26:25: “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi”. It may be nothing, but there is a slight difference between the eleven who said “Lord” and the one who said “Rabbi”, for in calling Jesus “teacher”, Judas seems to be expressing respect for Jesus as a teacher, but withholding his obedience to the Lordship of Jesus. Whatever his intent, Judas’ remark was disingenuous at best.
In His reply to Judas, Jesus seems to be revealing that He isn’t buying the denial.
In 26:26-30, we have the institution of the Last Supper, one of the most hotly debated aspects of the Faith traditionally, as disagreements among believers have literally divided the Body multiple times for the past thousand years or so. Ironically, however, everyone agrees that the partaking of the bread and the cup point us to the cross, the one thing that unites all Christians.