Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Matthew 27:32-66 - Jesus' Crucifixion and Burial

(My BSF Notes)

Last week we learned that Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and tried.  He accepted the suffering He did not deserve to save His guilty people.

Matthew 27:32-56 - Jesus' Crucifixion

Jesus suffered shame and disgrace before He was ever nailed to the Cross.  He suffered humiliation, beatings, mocking, and insults.  The soldiers lead Jesus outside the city to be crucified.  That's where they took common criminals.  Jesus loved Jerusalem, wept over it (Ps. 122; 137:1-6; Luke 13:34-35), and died for it, but Jerusalem didn't want Him.  To really study Jesus' crucifixion you should not only look at Matthew, but also to all four gospels which gives many more details. 

They soldiers took Jesus outside the city to be crucified like a common criminal.  It was a long route ad they made Him carry His own cross.  Jesus become exhausted after all the hours of the trials, the mocking, and the beatings.  He was too slow and was holding up the procession.  There was a man on the way from Cyrene whose name was Simon.  The soldiers forced Simon to carry Jesus' cross.  Simon was only a spectator and had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  He was thrown into this situation.  I am sure it was not by his choosing, but it was in God's plan.  He probably came to Jerusalem all excited and looking forward to being in the city and celebrating.  Now forced to carry the cross he was probably fearful and angry, but later he realized what a honor he had helping Jesus carry His cross.  He probably returned home and told his story as well as the details of Jesus' crucifixion to his friends and family.  I am sure this was a day Simon would never forget.  Later his sons Rufus and Alexander were recognized in the Christian church.  Their names are mentioned in Mark 15:21 and in Rom. 16:13.

What part have you taken in Jesus' Cross?
Are you a spectator or a participant?
How have you told others your story?
Do you see your service to God as a privilege or do you complain?

They came to Golgotha and offered Jesus wine to drink which was mixed with gall.  Jesus refused to drink it.  Jesus was working.  He wanted to face the Cross just as God had intended.  Pilate had the words "The King of the Jews" fasted above His head.  It was the third hour when they crucified Him.  With Him they crucified 2 robbers, one on His right and one on His left.  They continued mocking Him and said, "He saved others, 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.  He trust in God.  Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" - Matt. 27:42-44.

It was terrible that they publicly humiliated Jesus with the lowest possible form of execution, crucifixion.  Now they added more insults by dividing up His garments among themselves.  This was spiritually significant because it fulfilled Ps. 22:18 - "They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."  Is. 64:6 - "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rage."  Is. 61:10 - "For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness."  He gave up everything for us even His clothes.  There are no words to describe His suffering yet He speaks, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." - Luke 23:34.

How have you found cleansing and blessing because Christ became unclean for you on the Cross?

Luke 23:39-43 tells us that one of the robbers hanging beside Jesus said, "Aren't you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!"   But the other criminal rebuked him,  'Don't you fear God, since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But his man has done nothing wrong.'  Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you came into your kingdom.'  Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'"  

While in such pain, He still is concerned for others.  He comforted the robber during his suffering and assured him of paradise.  He thought of His mother arranging for His friend, John and care for her. (John 19:25-27).

What opportunities has God given you to comfort others?

It took approximately six hours between 9 a.m. to 12 noon for Jesus' Crucifixion.  Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - Matt. 27:46.  This was a real expression of agony.  He knew the answer to his question, but He wanted to express His agony so we would know what He did for us.  He was completely alone and isolated.  The result of sin is separation from God.  He suffered in His flesh, mind and spirit.  God had forsaken Him, but not left Him.  All of us who don't put ours sins on Jesus will be separated from God for eternity.

The last three hours of the crucifixion we see God's great power.  At noon great darkness covered the whole land because Jesus was holding our sins.  From the sixth to the ninth hour God's judgment poured out on sin.  The Bible describes hell as darkness.  Think about all your sins, the sins of everyone you know, the sins of everyone you don't know, the sins of everyone from the beginning of time, and the sins of everyone in the future.  Jesus bore them all.

He then cried out again and gave up His Spirit.  John 19:30 tells us he asked for a drink in order to quench His thirst and take away His dry mouth.  It also was to give him strength to speak on final time.  He cried, "It in finished."

"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.  The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." - Matt. 27:51-53.

When the centurion and others guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and everything that had happened, they were terrified.  Never before had the centurion experience a crucifixion like this.  Jesus was tortured, yet endured patiently.  Jesus was noble, dignified, devout, and kind.  What kind of man would be lay down His life willingly?  Then when the earth shook and the rocks split, he knew and said, "Surely he was the Son of God." - Matt. 27:54. 

Is Jesus your God and Savior?

The significance of the torn curtain in the temple was that before only the high priest could enter the inter most part of the temple called Most Holy Place.  He would enter once a year with blood of a sacrificial lamb offered for himself and the sins of the people.  A curtain separated the Most Holy Place from the outer part of the temple.  The high priest was the only one who could make atonement to God for the peoples' sins.  Now that the curtain was torn, we all have access to God through Jesus.  Jesus is our High Priest.  Jesus' death alone opened the way for man to be one with God.  Sin is now abolished and we can enter His kingdom and His presence.  The curtain was 60 feet long, 20 feet wide and 4 inches thick.  No one could tear the curtain.  God alone tore it from top to bottom.  This took place at the moment of Jesus' death.

Principle:  Jesus' work on the cross demands a response.

The earth responded with earthquakes.  The temple curtain responded by being torn.  The centurion responded by realizing who Jesus was.  The women followers responded by following Jesus' body.  How are you responding?

Psalm 22:14-17 foretold the sufferings of the Crucifixion.  It describes the horrible physical distress: His arms spread for a prolonged period with unbearable pain, His back that was raw from the scourging, His nervous system in pain from the nails in His hands and feet, His bones out of joint and muscles stretched beyond endurance, His restricted blood flow to heart and lungs, His complete dehydration, the hot sun beating down, insects irritation His bleeding wounds.  We can appreciate the Old Testament, because it makes us know that God is in control and always will be.

Jesus wanted to save people, so He refused to save Himself.  He suffered because of our sins.  He brought two great benefits to all who follow Him.  First we can know God forgives us and second we can now come close to God.  Jesus ended the terrible results of sin.  When people sin God must punish them.  All will die.  Jesus died and came back to life.  God promised us that we like Jesus will come back to life again. (1 Cor. 15:1-23; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Principles: 
Jesus wanted to save people, but refused to save Himself.
Jesus’ death opened the way into God’s presence making Jesus our High Priest.

Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50-3; John 19:38-42 - Jesus' Burial

When evening came a man named Joseph from Arimathea who was a prominent member of the Council went to Pilate as asked for Jesus' body.  John 19:38-41 states that Nicodemus helped him.  They took Jesus' body and wrapped it with spices and in clean linen cloths and placed it in Joseph' own new tomb that he had.  God had planned this:  God provided Joseph with a new tomb, it was nearby, he had new linen and Nicodemus had spices.  Simon then place a large stone to cover the entrance of the tomb.  Simon had given Jesus a legal burial.  He was buried according to the law. 

God prepared Simon and Nicodemus for this moment.  By burying Jesus it led to credibility of Jesus' death.  If the disciples did it, some would claim He really was not dead.  The disciple were not involved nor were they present.  This shows they did not steal the body.  God took care of everything.  God was in control.  We see His sovereignty through it all.

Jesus' enemies remembered what Jesus had said, that He would rise in 3 days.  They didn't want the disciples to come and steal the body and tell people he had risen.  So they sealed the large stone that covered the tomb and posted a guard.

Where do you need to exercise trust that God's plan will be fulfilled?
Will you ask God to show you specific sins for which Jesus died to save you?
When you fail, will  you come to Him for forgiveness and cleansing He won for you at the cross?

Principle:  God's plan will always be accomplished regardless of how certain defeat appears.

This is true at the Cross and it's true in life.  Just because it's God's plan does not mean it is not hard.  Will you ask God to give you renewed strength?

There is good news in next week's study - Jesus Is Risen!  We will study the resurrection in Matthew 28.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Matthew 26:47-27:1-31

(My BSF Notes)

Last week we learned about Mary's unselfish worship of Jesus, Judas' betrayal, Jesus' final meal, Peter's denial, and Jesus praying in Gethsemane before His arrest.  This week we learn of Jesus' betrayal, arrest and the trials that fulfilled Scripture.

Matthew 26:47-68 - Jesus Betrayed, Arrested, and Tried Before Caiaphas

While Jesus was praying with some of the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, Judas came with a large crowd who were armed with swords.  This crowd was sent by the chief priest and elders who plotted against Jesus.  Remember they had already given Judas 30 pieces of silver to hand Jesus over to them.  Judas was to kiss Jesus indicating whom they were to arrest.  Jesus said to Judas, "Friend, do what you came for." - Matt. 26:50.  After Judas kissed Jesus, they arrested Him.  John 18:5-6 says Jesus asked, "Who is it you want?'  'Jesus of Nazareth, they replied.'  'I am he,' Jesus said."  Then the mob staggered backward and fell to the ground as though struck by lightning.  God then permitted Him to be arrested.

Peter drew his sword to stop them and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest.  Jesus said, "Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" - Matt. 26:52-54.  Peter's reaction might have caused them all to be arrested or even killed on the spot.  If Jesus had not been arrested and crucified and raised on the 3rd day, Scriptures would not have been fulfilled and it would not be God's will or plan.  Peter acted emotionally and just wanted to stop them from taking Jesus.  He loved Jesus and tried to protect Him.  Jesus then touched the servant's ear and healed the wound  This probably saved Peter's life (Luke 22:51).  The disciples then fled.  Jesus was left alone without one friend.

Then they took Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest.  Peter followed at a distance and sat with the guards to see the outcome.  The Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so they could put Him to death.  Of course they could not find any.  Then they found two who said, "This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days." - Matt. 26:61.  They question Jesus, but He was silent.  The high priest said, "I charge you under oath by the living God:  Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Matt. 26:63.  Jesus answered, "Yes, it is as you say, but I say to all of you:  In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." - Matt. 26:64.  This is prophesied by Daniel in Dan. 7:13-14. 

In the quest to find evidence of guilt against Jesus only proved His innocence and His majesty.

Jesus stood on trial more than five times.  Even those who tried Him were on trial.  Their actions were judged as well.  Even those who watched were judged.  They were watching with emptiness and detachment.  They brought the blood of Jesus upon themselves.  They followed their leaders like sheep.  They had the same guilt for their attitudes toward Christ, which determined their eternal life of eternal condemnation.

What is your attitude toward Christ?
How are you indifferent toward Him?

Jesus was humiliated and treated like a criminal.  His friend Judas betrayed Him.  Jesus all this would happen.  He knew He would fulfill the prophecy in Scriptures. (Matt. 27:56)

Jesus is our substitute.  He died for our sins and we do not have to face God's wrath. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 cor. 5:21.  "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." - Heb. 2:17.  As a result of Jesus being our substitute, we can stand before God sinless.  His substitution is for our weakness and failures and sin.

What sins has Jesus freed you of?

Matthew 26:68-75- 27:1-10 - Peter Disowns Jesus and Judas Hangs Himself

Just as Jesus predicted, Peter disowns Jesus three times.  Once when a servant girl said to Peter, "you were with Jesus", but Peter said "I don't know what you are talking about."  - Matt. 26:70.  Then again when another girl saw him and said "the fellow was with Jesus".  Peter said with an oath, "I don't know the man!" - Matt. 26:72.  Later some came up to Peter and said "surely you are tone of them, for your accent give you away."  Peter said again, "I don't know the man!" - Matt. 26:74.  Immediately the rooster crowed and Peter remember what Jesus had said.  Peter went outside and wept bitterly.  Peter sinned because he was fearful, tired, over confident, boastful, emotional, and confused.

Judas and Peter handled their sin differently.  Peter never wanted to betray Jesus, but did it out of fear and just got caught up in it.  Peter was overconfident.  We can all fall into sin the same way as Peter.  We get caught up in our emotions and a small lie and the lie seems to grow and grow into a bigger one.  We can even begin to believe our lies.  Peter went on to become a bold preacher and witness for Jesus.  He helped to start the church.  He wrote the books of 1st and 2nd Peter in the Bible.  Judas sinned out of greed.  He was sorry, but never repented.  Instead he threw the money into the temple and went and hanged himself.  

Peter's sin was just a temporary emotional reaction.  Judas' sin was one of bitterness and premeditation.  Judas had no hope.  Peter had hope.  Judas had a choice, but made the wrong one.  He chose to sin and turn from God.  Jesus gave Judas an opportunity to repent, when He said to him, "Friend, do what you came for." - Matt. 26:50.

To simply be sorry is to have temporary regret, but never making a change in your life.  To repent is also having regrets, but then you change your ways of living.  Judas had a choice, but made the wrong one.  He chose to sin and turned from God.

Have you repented from a sin?
How are you choosing to turn to God?

Matthew 27:11-31; Luke 23:1-12 - Jesus Tried Before Pilate

Jesus was taken before the governor, Pilate.  Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?" - Matt. 27:11a.  Jesus answered, "Yes, it is as you say." - Matt. 27:11b.  Then Pilate asked the crowd, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" - Matt. 27:17.  Then Pilate's wife sent him a message to not do anything to this innocent man because of a dream she had about Him.  The chief priests and elder persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and have Jesus executed.  They shouted, "Crucify him!" - Matt. 27:22b.  Pilate said He had not committed a crime, but still they shouted to crucify Him.  Pilate then washed his hands and said, "I am innocent of this man's blood.  It is your responsibility!" - Matt. 27:24.

Pilate then send Jesus before Herod.  Matthew does not mention the trial before Herod.  This is mentioned in Luke 23.  Herod wanted Jesus to be entertained by Jesus and wanted Him to do miracles like he did of John the Baptist.  When Herod questioned Jesus, He didn't answer.  Probably because He had killed John the Baptist and He knew He could not change his mind anyway so why waste time.  Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked Jesus.  They dressed Him in a elegant robe and sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate realized Jesus was innocent.  He said he found no basis to charge Jesus and repeats this several times.  He knew it was out of envy that the crowd had handed Jesus over to him.  Pilate was worried what the people thought and didn't want to go against them.  We are sometimes like Pilate and try to please people and worry about what people think of us.  We need to stand up for what is true and right.  We need to stand up for truth and our beliefs.  We need to ask God to help us not be fearful, but the trust in Him and His protection.  We have a choice to make as to who Jesus is. 

Is He your King or do you crucify Him?
Have you repented and made changes in your life?
How are you depending on God to give you strength in your situation?

Principles:
Jesus' faithfulness to God's purpose saved His people form God's judgment.
Jesus forgives repentant sinners.
Every person who rejects Jesus must pay the penalty for his sin.

Ask God to help you never forget what He did for you, for His strength, for His provision, and for His protection.

These last few lessons have been sad ones and there is more sadness to come next week as we study about Jesus' crucifixion.  Even though it's sad, there is thankfulness and hope.  Don't miss it.  See you next time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Matthew 26:1-46 - The Evening Before the Cross

(My BSF Notes)

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.