Last week we learned only a real relationship with Jesus prepares us for His return. This week we study the events on the evening before the cross.
Matthew 26:1-16; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-11 - The Plot Against Jesus
Jesus told His disciples that He would be arrested and handed over to be crucified at Passover in 2 days. Jesus had told them this over and over to prepare them. Meanwhile the chief priest and elders who were the enemies of Jesus plotted to kill Him. They planned to do it after the Passover so the people would not riot, but that was not God's plan. God's plan was that Jesus was to be crucified at the Passover Feast. So they plotted. (Matt. 26:1-5)
The Passover was one of the most holy celebrations. It marked the time when God delivered the Israelites from God's judgment on Egypt. The Israelites were told to put the blood of the sacrificed lamb on their door frame and so God's angel would pass over their houses while killing the first born in every house of the Egyptians. The Israelites were to eat the meat of the lamb for strength. Then they were lead out of Egypt. (Exodus 12)
While Jesus was in Bethany at Simon the Leper's home, a woman named Mary came with very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus' head. She did this out of love for Jesus. She was thankful for him and acted on her faith. She sacrificed the most expensive thing she had for Jesus. Then Judas asked, "This perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor?" - Matt. 26:9. Jesus said to leave her alone. She was preparing Him for burial. Then He said, "I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." - Matt. 26:13.
The world doesn't understand sacrifices made for Jesus. The world's value system doesn't recognize service to God. The disciples had no spiritual eyesight into God's will. They had not listened to Jesus concerning His upcoming crucifixion. Jesus knew her heart motive and He knows ours. He knows what we are thinking.
Now Judas was the keeper of the money bag for Jesus and the disciples. This money was used to help the poor. Judas was annoyed with Jesus, because Jesus had rebuked him. Judas was greedy and a thief. He would steal small amounts for himself (John 12:6). Luke 22:3 tells us at that time Satan entered Judas. Then Judas went to the priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" - Matt. 26:14. This was just the opportunity the chief priests needed to get rid of Jesus. They agreed to give him 30 silver coins. 30 pieces of silver was the cost of a slave in Ex. 21:23 and was the amount paid to God's special servant in Zech. 11:12. The 30 pieces of silver was an insult.
What are you giving to Jesus that others might think is wasteful?How do you express you love for Jesus?
Are you angry with the ways He is working in your life?
Or are you thankful and an extravagant lover of Jesus?
Principles:Jesus' people never lose by giving everything for Him.
Jesus knows our heart motives.
Matthew 26:17-35 - The Lord's Last Supper
While Jesus was eating His last meal before His death, He told the disciples, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me." - Matt. 26:21. Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus knew ever since He called Judas that he was the betrayer. Jesus told this to the disciples so they would know He was allowing it to happen, that He was in control and not Judas. Jesus gave Judas a chance to repent and confess. Judas thought he was able to cover his evil and looked as if he was as confused as the others. Judas said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" - Matt. 26:25a. At first Jesus didn't tell the disciples who the betrayer was. He wanted them to search their hearts, because they needed to learn to rely on Him especially after they all would run away after His arrest. Then he answered Judas, "Yes, it is you." - Matt. 26:25b. Judas now fully understood what he was doing. We can't always tell a person by the outside, but we can tell about a person by their actions.
"While they were eating, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom.'" - Matt. 26:26-29.
The sacrament of the Lord's Supper today is also called Holy Communion, the Breaking of Bread, or the Eucharist. In the Old Testament the sharing of bread was the sealing of a covenant. The bread symbolizes Christ's human body and the wine His blood that He shed for us on the cross. Jesus intended that each time the disciples celebrated this Last Supper, it would cause them to remember His sacrifice and to anticipate His return. When we take the bread and the wine, our thoughts should be the same. We are to give thanks to God for Jesus and how He shed His blood for us. Before we drink, we are to consider our sins, even the sin of indifference.
Jesus knew His disciples would lose their courage and they would say they did not know Him. In Matt. 26:31 He quoted Zech. 13:7. A shepherd takes care of his sheep and when the shepherd is gone the sheep scatter. He is their Shepherd. He told them that they would fall away on account of Him, but tried to give them hope and comfort that He would rise again and meet them in Galilee. Of course they all said they would not fall away. Peter said, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." - Matt. 26:33. Peter loved Jesus and wanted to be loyal to Him. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three time." - Matt. 26:34. Jesus was clear to Judas and to Peter. The difference was Peter's repentance and Judas' suicide.
Do you think about the sacrifice Jesus made for you each time you take Communion?
Do you consider your spiritual condition?
Do you thank Jesus for what He did for you?
Principle: The Lord's Supper is a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice for us as we wait for His return.
Matthew 26:36-46 - Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
Jesus left with His disciples and went to the garden of Gethsemane for rest and prayer. He told the disciples to sit there and wait while He prays. Then He took Peter, James and John along with Him and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. He said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." - Matt. 26:38. When we are full of sorrow and are troubled, we need go to God in prayer. He will give us comfort and strength to carry on. Jesus was very lonely. He knew the great pain that would await Him. His own had betrayed Him. The disciples were all confused and preoccupied with themselves. He needed them more than ever before for support and prayer. His Father was the only One He could turn to. He endured extreme loneliness so you and I would never be lonely again.
How are you experiencing extreme loneliness?Will you ask God to give you comfort and strength?
The cup of the Cross was revealed to Jesus and He was to drink the cup of the wrath of God to save the wicked world. Jesus fell on 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." - Matt. 26:39. He was aware of all the world's sins that would be laid on Him at the cross. He had never known sin, but would bear the guilt of sin and the punishment for sins of the world. He desired the will of His Father more than anything. The cup was not forced on Him. He chose to drink it.
Do you desire the will of God more than anything?What words can you use to thank Jesus for His great sacrifice for you?
Jesus returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." - Matt. 26:40-41. Jesus was disappointed 3 times that His friends had not stayed awake with Him. Then He said, "Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" - Matt. 26:46. The time had come and He would complete His work for the Father. Judas was going to hand Jesus over to His enemies.
Principles:Jesus embraced God's will for His death so His people could have life.
Jesus suffered great agony to provide an Atonement for all mankind.
Jesus' time is here. In the next study we will see Him arrested and tried. See you next week for the rest of Matthew 26.