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Prayer of Protection

Psalm 91, King James Version (KJV)

A thousand shall fall at thy side – Though a thousand should fall at thy side, or close to thee. This alludes to the manner in which the pestilence often moves among people. A thousand enemies may fall upon thee on one side, and ten thousand may fall upon thee on thy right hand, but they shall not come nigh thee to take away thy life. It is a promise of perfect protection, and the utmost safety.

And ten thousand at thy right hand – Compare Psalm 3:6. The word “myriad” would better represent the exact idea in the original, as the Hebrew word is different from that which is translated “a thousand.” It is put here for any large number. No matter how many fall around thee, on the right hand and the left, you will have nothing to fear.

But it shall not come nigh thee – You will be safe. You may feel assured of the divine protection. Your mind may be calm through a sense of such guardianship, and your very calmness will conduce to your safety. This refers, as remarked above, to a “general” law in regard to the judgments of God. It is true that others, beside the dissipated, vicious, and debased, may be the victims; but the great law is that temperance, soberness, virtue, cleanliness, and that regard to comfort and health to which religion and virtue prompt, constitute a marked security – so marked as to illustrate the “general” law referred to in the psalm before us.

The words of Psalm 91 are some of the most beautiful words in the Bible. Look at them for just a moment:

91 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

These are wonderful words of comfort. They speak of God as the Protector of those who trust in Him. They promise that while many will suffer destruction, the one who has trusted in God, who has fled to Him for safety, will be delivered. Are these words really true? Can we find comfort in them this afternoon? We certain can! Let me show you why they are true, and why they can bring us great comfort as we grieve over the death of one whom we knew and loved or whatever your situation happens to be at this moment.

We have a divinely inspired commentary on these verses in the New Testament, which shed much light on the meaning and application of this psalm to us. In the temptation of our Lord, Psalm 91:11-12 are quoted by Satan to our Lord, at the time of His temptation in wilderness (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11). Satan challenged Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple, and to be divinely delivered from death, to show that He was the Messiah. He tried to convince Jesus that since Psalm 91 promised deliverance from suffering and death, God would deliver Him.

Jesus responded by referring to the Scripture which forbade putting God to the test. There is much more that Jesus could have said, and did not. What Satan would only later learn is that the promise of Psalm 91 was to be fulfilled through the suffering and death of Jesus, on the cross of Calvary. God could promise deliverance to those who trusted in Him because Jesus would suffer in their behalf, and would rise from the dead, the Victor over sin, and death, and Satan. Psalm 91 was not Jesus’ excuse for avoiding the cross, but His reason for going to the cross.

Just as Psalm 91 was no guarantee that Jesus need not suffer. Indeed, the suffering of Jesus was the reason why the saints are protected and removed from suffering. The important question is this: “From what sufferings are the saints delivered? From what dangers and destruction are we delivered?” Psalm 91 does it promise us that the saints will be delivered from all suffering. Many Scriptures, the experience of many saints (biblical and otherwise) and our own experience, make it clear that Christians do suffer. Let us look more carefully at this psalm to determine what suffering we are promised to be delivered from.

The Psalm begins with the strong statement that God is our refuge, our fortress, our place of safety (verses 1-4). There are two kind of people mentioned in this psalm, and they have two very different destinies. The one group is delivered from destruction, and the other group is destroyed. The all-important need here is to determine what it is that some are delivered from, which is also the means by which others are destroyed. Our text cannot mean that those who trust in God are all delivered from suffering and death, and that those who do not trust in God suffer and die prematurely. The psalm which comes immediately before our text speaks of that suffering and short life which the godly experience, as a result of living in a fallen, sin-tainted world:

1 Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born, Or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. 3 Thou dost turn man back into dust, And dost say, “Return, O children of men.” 4 For a thousand years in Thy sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or {as} a watch in the night. 5 Thou hast swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. 6 In the morning it flourishes, and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades, and withers away. 7 For we have been consumed by Thine anger, And by Thy wrath we have been dismayed. 8 Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, Our secret {sins} in the light of Thy presence. 9 For all our days have declined in Thy fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. 10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is {but} labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. 11 Who understands the power of Thine anger, And Thy fury, according to the fear that is due Thee? 12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom. 13 Do return, O Lord; how long {will it be}? And be sorry for Thy servants. 14 O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad according to the days Thou hast afflicted us, {And} the years we have seen evil. 16 Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, And Thy majesty to their children. 17 And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And do confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands (Psalm 90:1-17).

Psalm 90, written by Moses, speaks of the eternal nature of God and the very temporal nature of man. With God, a thousand years is nothing. For man, 70 years is a long life, and even these years are filled with sorrow and labor. This brevity and painfulness of life is explained by Moses as the result of God’s holiness and man’s sin. The solution to this problem of pain, and the hope of the believer is not in this life, but in the next. It will come with the return of the Lord. It will come “in the morning”. It will come in the future. The solution is not to be found in the deliverance from death, but in a deliverance after death. While it is not clearly stated in this psalm, it would be correct to say that death itself is a kind of deliverance for the Christian, for it removes us from the effects of sin, from pain and suffering and sorrow, and it takes us into the eternal joy of the presence of our Lord.

The destruction from which the believer is delivered is not the suffering and pain and even death of this life, but from the judgment of God, from the “second death” of eternal separation from His presence. This deliverance is so clearly described in yet another psalm, Psalm 73.

1 Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! 2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant, {As} I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat. 5 They are not in trouble {as other} men; Nor are they plagued like mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of {their} heart run riot. 8 They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. 9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return to this place; And waters of abundance are drunk by them. 11 And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased {in} wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence; 14 For I have been stricken all day long, And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children. 16 When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight 17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God; {Then} I perceived their end. 18 Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form. 21 When my heart was embittered, And I was pierced within, 22 Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was {like} a beast before Thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. 24 With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven {but Thee}? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. 28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works (Psalm 73:1-28).

Here Asaph, the psalmist, expresses his faith, a faith in God as the Good God, to those who trust in Him. His problem was that while he trusted in God as the One who was “good” to Israel, his experience was that the righteous suffered, while it was the wicked who prospered. He had contemplated giving it up, he confessed, for his piety seemed to be of little profit.

This was until he came to see his life through a different perspective–a heavenly, eternal one (verses 16ff.). He then realized that the prosperity of the wicked was exceedingly short-lived. Their eternal fate was destruction. The righteous, on the other hand, have all of eternity to enjoy the blessings of God’s presence and power.

Prayer of God's Protection!

Prayer of God’s Protection!

In the light of eternity, the sufferings of this life are but a small price to pay when compared to the blessings of eternity. But even the sufferings of this life are not “evil”. They are truly “good” for the saint, for in these times of suffering, God seems even nearer to us, especially as we are drawn nearer to Him. The ultimate “evil” in life is to be separated from God, and if affluence and a life of ease turns us from God, this absence from pain is really an “evil”. The ultimate “good” in life is fellowship with Him, enjoying His presence. If suffering in this life enables us to experience His presence in a deeper way, then it is truly “good” and He is “good” for bringing this adversity into our lives.

This is why we can find comfort in Psalm 91. Not because it promised us a long, trouble-free life on this present earth, but because it assures us that in Christ we would escape the wrath of God. In this life, we do not need to fear danger or even death, for He will raise us from death to eternal life, in His presence, free from pain and sickness and sorrow. That is our hope, and thus we can rejoice in our sufferings and death.

This hope is not for everyone, but only for those who have turned to God for their security and safety. Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of God, and by faith in Him, we may be sheltered from it. If you would share this hope, you must trust in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. May you experience the joy and the hope which we can receive, even in our sickness and pain.

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The Height of Hypocrisy Matthew 23:25-39

25 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too!

27 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have participated with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 By saying this you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up then the measure of your ancestors! 33 You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 “For this reason I am sending you prophets and wise men and experts in the law, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35 so that on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, this generation will be held responsible for all these things!

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Introduction

In the Walt Disney version of the film, “Pollyanna,” Hayley Mills plays Pollyanna Whittier. This young girl has lost both of her missionary parents and has come to stay with her spinster aunt, Polly Herrington, played by Jane Wyman. Karl Malden plays the part of Rev. Paul Ford, the “fire and brimstone” preacher at the church where Polly and Pollyanna attend. At one point, Rev. Ford has a life-changing conversation with Pollyanna. In short, Pollyanna tells Rev. Ford that her father preached only the “happy texts” of the Bible. I feel quite confident that Pollyanna’s father would never have preached Matthew 23, for this could hardly be called a “happy text.”

A number of the commentators are certainly not very “happy” about this chapter. What I found interesting is that while some commentators found much to say against this chapter, some of my most trusted scholarly resources seemed to have too little to say about it. I want to deal with this matter later in this message because I believe the final verses of chapter 24 resolve a number of the issues that trouble some of the critics of this chapter.

Our Text in Context

By His triumphal entry, temple cleansing, possession of the temple, teaching and healing, Jesus had claimed His rightful title as Israel’s Messiah. The Jewish religious and political leaders of Jerusalem understood this and took their best shot at discrediting Jesus and undermining His authority. They failed miserably. Every question they posed proved them to be in error, and Jesus to be in authority. Their final response is stunned silence.

In chapter 23, Jesus now turns the tables, attacking their leadership and authority. He accuses them of usurping the “chair of Moses.” If their assumed role was legitimate, then everything they said should have been followed and preserved. But what they say must be judged by what they do. You might call this the “hypocrisy quotient”: What one says, divided by what one does. Jesus then goes on to show that the scribes and Pharisees are complete hypocrites, and thus they should not be followed.

To begin with, they spend all their energy creating massive burdens to place upon the people, and yet will not lift so much as a finger to help people with these burdens (Matthew 23:4; contrast Matthew 11:28-30). While they do not have any compassion towards those they lead, they delight in the honor and status that these common folks bestow upon them (verses 5-7). They love the places of honor and the titles that set them apart from and above the rest.

Jesus uses the scribes and Pharisees as examples of what not to do. He cautions His disciples not to take titles for themselves that distinguish some above their brethren. He goes even further to warn His disciples of accepting titles which rightly belong only to God the Father (verse 9), or God the Son (verse 10). In His kingdom, it is the humble who are exalted, while those who exalt themselves will be humbled (verse 11).

In verse 13, the “woe’s” begin. In verses 13-15, Jesus reveals the ultimate reason why men should not submit to the leadership and authority of the scribes and Pharisees. They should not follow the scribes and Pharisees because they are headed for hell, and they will lead their followers after them. The masses (who, at this moment, are the only ones who still have respect for our Lord’s authority “ see Matthew 21:45-46), who are somewhat favorable to Jesus, find the scribes and Pharisees barring the door to the kingdom by utilizing the full extent of their influence to keep people from following Jesus. And the very few whom the scribes and Pharisees invite to join their elite group become twice as much a child of hell as their mentors.

Verses 16-24 describe the scribes and Pharisees as playing a game of “Trivial Pursuit.” You will remember that Jesus accused His adversaries as saying one thing, but doing another. Now, our Lord shows just how much of a science they have made of their hypocrisy. Verses 16-22 focus on oaths “ things they not only say, but swear to; verses 23-24 focus on tithing. The scribes and Pharisees make false distinctions, thus providing a way of escape from what they have promised. If one swears by the temple, he is not obligated to keep that vow. But if one swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to keep his vow. Jesus shows that these distinctions are false, and that one is obliged to keep his vow, without distinction. (We know from Matthew 5 that vows should not be necessary at all, for we should be people of our word “ see Matthew 5:33-37.)

In verses 23 and 24, our Lord indicts the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy in regard to tithing. The Law taught tithing. The scribes and Pharisees were meticulous about tithing, when it came to trivial things. They made much of tithing when it came to small things like mint, dill, and cumin. But in making much of small things, they made little of very important things like justice, mercy, and faith. In our Lord’s assessment, they “strained gnats and swallowed camels.” Their attention to little things was a pretext for ignoring the most important things of all.

Inside Out

Matthew 23:25-28

25 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too!

27 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25-28).

This brings us to the first verses in our passage for this lesson. Verses 25-28 have something in common “ they call attention to an undue interest in outward appearances, rather than on what is on the inside. This should come as no great surprise to us. In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus warned about performing our righteous deeds (charitable giving, prayer, and fasting) before men, for their praise. Earlier in chapter 23, Jesus has said that “they do all their deeds to be seen by people” (Matthew 23:5). Since the scribes and Pharisees loved to be esteemed as more spiritual than others, we would expect them to be preoccupied with external appearances, rather than the heart.

In Leviticus, God talked about the defilement of vessels like plates and cups:

31 These are the ones that are unclean to you among all the swarming things. Anyone who touches them when they die will be unclean until evening. 32 Also, anything they fall on when they die will become unclean”any wood vessel or garment or article of leather or sackcloth. Any such vessel with which work is done must be immersed in water and will be unclean until the evening. Then it will become clean. 33 As for any clay vessel they fall into, everything in it will become unclean and you must break it (Leviticus 11:31-33).

Even here, it was what went into the cup that defiled it. Preoccupied as they were with appearances, the scribes and Pharisees were obsessive about the outside of the cup looking clean, so obsessive that the inside could be filled with the most putrid and defiled matter, and it would seemingly be ignored, so long as the outside looked good. These fellows would have been great at selling used cars.

Pharisaism assumed that if the outside looked good, everything else must be good. Hypocrisy is a concerted effort to mask our failures (otherwise known as “sin”) by making appearances look good. Jesus tells us that true cleansing begins on the inside “ in the heart “ and expands to the outside.

The next “woe” continues the theme of a discrepancy between the outside, which looks good, and the inside, which is corrupt. But Jesus changes images from cups and dishes to tombs. I am aware of the Jewish practice of whitewashing tombs just before Passover, so that no unsuspecting person would innocently come into contact with the dead, and thus defile himself. But I am not so sure that this helps us a great deal. Jesus does not seem to be talking about the poorly marked grave of some pauper, a grave that would hardly be noticeable, apart from whitewashing. I understand Him to be speaking of a very elegant tomb, whose beauty is enhanced by whitewashing. It is so beautiful that it attracts attention and invites people to draw near to admire it. This outward adornment distracts from the corruption and defilement contained within.

The scribes and Pharisees are hypocrites because they are like these beautified tombs. They seem so lovely and attractive, if judged solely by outward appearances. But inside there is the greatest measure of defilement. Outside the scribes and Pharisees look so holy, so pious, so zealous for the things of God, but inside they are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Those who would have others believe that they are zealous for the law are those whom Jesus refers to as being full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Grave Error Exposed

Matthew 23:29-36

29 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have participated with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 By saying this you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up then the measure of your ancestors! 33 You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 “For this reason I am sending you prophets and wise men and experts in the law, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35 so that on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, this generation will be held responsible for all these things!” (Matthew 23:29-36)

HypocriteNotice the almost seamless transition from the previous “woe” to this new “woe” in verses 29-36. Jesus had described the scribes and Pharisees as being like a beautiful tomb. Now, tombs are employed to expose yet another form of hypocrisy. Jesus is in Jerusalem, where the tombs of a number of prophets could be found. True to their hypocritical form, the scribes and Pharisees beautified the tombs of the “righteous” (verse 29) “ the prophets (verse 30). By thus honoring the prophets of old (who were regarded as righteous), the scribes and Pharisees gave the impression that they too were righteous. Many of these prophets had been murdered, however, so the scribes and Pharisees made it very clear that they would have had nothing to do with treating the righteous in such a manner.

Jesus says something very interesting about this; indeed, one might say, something very perplexing. It was by saying that they would never have treated the prophets of old in such manner that they, in fact, indicted themselves. They actually prove themselves to be the “sons of their rebellious fathers,” who murdered the prophets by claiming they would never have joined them in their wickedness. How does this work? How does saying you would never have done what your ancestors did make you guilty with them?

The scribes and Pharisees, like their ancestors, felt they were innocent. Did those who murdered the prophets say, “We are guilty sinners, worthy of the judgment the prophets have pronounced against us, but we don’t want to obey God, so we will murder His prophets to silence them”? No! They believed that they were right and that the prophets were wrong. They were innocent, but the prophets were guilty, and worthy of death.

The scribes and Pharisees rejected the words of condemnation of John the Baptist and Jesus because they felt that they were righteous. They found words of condemnation harsh and inappropriate, especially when addressed to them. The people of old maintained their innocence in the same way, even as they were putting the prophets to death. And thus, by insisting on their innocence, they only give more substance to the charges against them.

In contrast to the scribes and Pharisees, consider these texts, in which godly men of old identified themselves with the sins of their forefathers:

5 Then I said, “Please, O Lord God of heaven, great and awesome God, who keeps his loving covenant with those who love him and obey his commandments, 6 may your ear be attentive and your eyes be open to hear the prayer of your servant that I am praying to you today throughout both day and night on behalf of your servants the Israelites. I am confessing the sins of the Israelites that we have committed against you both I myself and my family have sinned. 7 We have behaved corruptly against you, not obeying the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments that you commanded your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:5-7).

We have sinned like our ancestors;

we have done wrong, we have done evil (Psalm 106:6).

25 Let us acknowledge our shame.

Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve.

For we have sinned against the Lord our God,

both we and our ancestors.

From earliest times to this very day

we have not obeyed the Lord our God’ (Jeremiah 3:25; see also 14:20).

4 I prayed to the LORD my God, confessing in this way: “O Lord, great and awesome God who is faithful to his covenant with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned. We have done what is wrong and wicked; we have rebelled by turning away from your commandments and standards. 6 We have not paid attention to your servants the prophets, who spoke by your authority to our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors, and to all the inhabitants of the land as well. 7 “You are righteous, O Lord, but we are humiliated this day” the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far away in all the countries in which you have scattered them, because they have behaved unfaithfully toward you. 8 O Lord, we have been humiliated”our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors” because we have sinned against you” (Daniel 9:4-8).

This being the case, Jesus has some very strong words of condemnation for the scribes and Pharisees, the strongest so far in this chapter. The scribes and Pharisees share in the guilt of their ancestors for killing the prophets. They actually “fill up” the measure of the sins of their forefathers. They are snakes, the offspring of snakes, and they will not escape being condemned to hell. Strong words indeed!

There is still another way the scribes and Pharisees will demonstrate that they are the sons of those who killed the prophets. They will prove themselves guilty with their ancestors by repeating the sins of their forefathers. Jesus says that He will send them prophets and wise men and scribes, whom they will persecute and kill, just exactly as their forefathers had done. In so doing, they will become guilty for the murders they have committed, and for those of their forefathers. This present generation will be held accountable for the murder of every righteous saint from Abel onward (verses 35-36).

How can this be so? How can one be guilty of crimes that were committed long before you were born? First of all, they will be guilty for rejecting Jesus, and for killing Him. They will also be guilty for murdering some of the righteous of their own generation. Somehow, there must be a connection between the rejection of the prophets of their own day and the rejection of the prophets of old by their forefathers. Here is the way I understand this connection. Matthew, more than any other Gospel writer, goes to great links to prove that the events of our Lord’s birth, ministry, and death are the fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures.

Our Lord Himself has emphasized the connection between His ministry and that of John the Baptist, who was the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Since the scribes and Pharisees are aware of the connection Jesus has made between Himself and the Old Testament prophets, then the rejection and murder of Jesus is, in effect, the rejection and murder of all of our Lord’s predecessors. Has this link not already been made by our Lord?

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey. 34 When the harvest time was near, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his portion of the crop. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first, and they treated them the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him” (Matthew 21:33-39).

How bone chilling it is to read of these words from the lips of those who advocated the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus:

In reply, all the people said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25)

And so it would be! And not only His blood, but the blood of all the righteous martyrs before Him.

Judgment on Jerusalem

Matthew 23:37-39

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39)

It would probably be advisable for us to compare these final words of our Lord in Matthew 23 to our Lord’s words regarding Jerusalem in Luke 19:

41 Now when Jesus approached and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had only known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and surround you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will demolish you” you and your children within your walls”and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God” (Luke 19:41-44, emphasis mine).

I am truly amazed at the amount of whining I find over our Lord’s “woes” in Matthew 23. Frederick Dale Bruner is often a source of real insight, so it was pretty amazing to read his comments at the beginning and at the end of chapter 23:

The pitch of Jesus’ prophetism in this sermon is so high and its attack so bitter that some interpreters have difficulty believing that the historical Jesus ever said much of it … .

In the Foreword his massive third-volume Matthew commentary, Luz, 3:vii, is candid about his own relation to this most problematic of all the Matthean chapters: “In the Woe Speech of chapter 23, I stand as an interpreter next to the text in a state of shock and I sometimes wish that this chapter did not stand in the Bible.”

Most critical commentaries and studies believe that Matthew’s depiction of Jesus’ judgment on Pharisaism in this chapter, in the heat of polemic, was unfair to Pharisaism.

So what do we do with a chapter where Jesus seems to violate his own command to love enemies (5:43-48; cf. 22:34-40; Stanton, Interp., 14)? Increasingly one hears the solution of attributing the chapter’s hateful parts to a surcharged Matthew. For Jesus doesn’t talk this way (e.g., Schnackenburg 2:221; This is not the Jesus we know elsewhere; recently, Hare, 264).

Why is it that the scholars find Jesus’ words so offensive and repulsive? This kind of prophetic condemnation is not new; it is frequently found in the Old Testament prophets. It is likewise found in the preaching of John the Baptist:

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, 9 and don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 10 Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am” I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12).

The scribes and Pharisees are not only going to play a leading role in the arrest and crucifixion of our Lord, they are the “blind guides,” who are responsible for leading others to hell (Matthew 23:13-15). Jesus not only speaks strongly and with severity to the scribes and Pharisees because they are hypocrites; He speaks strongly in the hearing of the masses, because they must know who it is they are inclined to follow. To choose to follow the scribes and Pharisees is to choose to proceed on the path to certain damnation. This is no time for warm, fuzzy talk when judgment is both certain and near.

I still found myself agonizing as to why the scholars (at least a number of them) had so much trouble with our Lord’s indictments in chapter 23. And then it struck me! They come as close to the scribes and Pharisees as anyone can today. The scribes were scholars and teachers. They are a part of an elite, academic community. They have their academic regalia (their robes, tassels, etc.), and they are often given special titles, recognition, and places of honor. They may lay heavy loads (of homework) on their students, and offer little help. They may, in the name of scholarship and precision, make fine distinctions that are not really valid. They may teach one way and live another. Most importantly, they may teach in a way that turns people from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. No wonder they are most uncomfortable hearing strong words of condemnation and the threat of hell. Unsaved Bible scholars may claim to be men of God, but when they do, they are hypocrites.

The severity of our Lord’s words seems appropriate in the light of these words of warning from James:

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. 3 And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies. 4 Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs. 5 So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. 6 And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence” and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. 8 But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. 11 A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings (James 3:1-13).

Now let us consider our Lord’s “hard words” in Matthew 23 in the light of the last three verses of this chapter. Allow me to make several observations concerning these verses.

(1) When Jesus speaks here, He speaks as God. Prophets spoke for God, but Jesus spoke as God. Jesus is not merely prophet, He is the Prophet. He is the One who sends out prophets and wise men (Matthew 23:34). He is the One of whom all the prophets spoke (John 1:451 Peter 1:10-12). He is the One who desires to gather Jerusalem’s children and keep them under His protective “wing” (Matthew 23:37). He is the One who is going to return, and when He does people will say, “‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:39). Jesus speaks as One having authority, and not as their scribes (see Matthew 7:28-29). You expect one with infinite authority to speak in an authoritative way, especially when judgment is needed.

(2) Jesus speaks severely, but with tears in His eyes. I am reminded of the harsh words with which Joseph addressed his brothers and also of the tears he shed in private (Genesis 42:9-24, 30; 43:30). These last verses inform us that our Lord loved Jerusalem and His chosen people deeply. He takes no delight in the eternal destruction of lost sinners:

For I take no delight in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:32)

(3) Jesus speaks as One whose desire it is to lovingly protect His own people, as a mother hen protects her chicks. The imagery here reveals the heart of Jesus, and of His compassion.

(4) Jesus’ words of condemnation, like those of John the Baptist  and other prophets, were strongly stated, but with the goal of calling men to repentance.

6 “I, the Lord, say, ‘O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.’ 7 There are times, Jeremiah, when I threaten to uproot, tear down, and destroy a nation or a kingdom. 8 But if that nation that I threatened stops doing wrong, I will forgo the destruction I intended to do to it (Jeremiah 18:6-8).

Jesus, who was the fulfillment of all the prophets of old foretold, was totally in character with those prophets in condemning sin and warning sinners of the coming wrath of God, unless they repent.

(5) Jesus speaks strongly here of judgment that is actually coming upon those who have rejected Him, and this judgment is coming soon. Is it harsh to tell a cancer patient that they will soon die unless they undergo major surgery? Is it harsh to strongly warn motorists that the road ahead is washed out and that unless they turn around they will plunge to their death? The peril of which our Lord speaks is real. The shocking bluntness of Jesus is a measure of how real and how terrible it is.

Is this hanging on the wall of your Heart?

Is this hanging on the wall of your Heart?

(6) Jesus speaks here of His return and of the blessings that will accompany Him. It will only be a few hours before the people will cry out, “Away with Him!” (John 19:15). These people know that He is coming back, and His return will mean blessing to those who receive Him for who He is.

(7) Jesus speaks more broadly here, and not just to the scribes and Pharisees, but to all Jerusalem. While the scribes and Pharisees must bear their guilt as leaders, the people of Jerusalem will bear their guilt for choosing to follow the wrong leaders, and thus for their participation in the death of Jesus. Until now, it was the favor of the crowds that kept Jesus alive, but that is about to end. Jesus’ words of imminent judgment include the people of Jerusalem, along with their leaders.

Conclusion

Let us remember that Matthew 23 is our Lord’s final public preaching. These are the last words the scribes and Pharisees and people of Jerusalem will hear from the lips of our Lord. As Matthew 5-7 introduced our Lord’s public ministry to Israel, so Matthew 23 concludes it. Would the scribes and Pharisees dare to presume that they can take “the chair of Moses?” Jesus made it clear in His Sermon on the Mount that their religion would not get them there, and the people rightly grasped that Jesus spoke with much greater authority. Why would we be surprised that Jesus would speak with such authority here, in Matthew 23? Why are we surprised that Jesus speaks of their eternal torment in hell? If Jesus is who He claims to be, the Son of God and Israel’s Messiah, then does He not have the right to speak as He does here? If the scribes and Pharisees have resolved to kill Jesus, just as their forefathers killed the prophets of their time, does Jesus not speak rightly here? Who you are determines what you have the right to say. A general can rebuke a private and can certainly order his punishment. A private dare not speak the same way to a general. Matthew 23 is completely consistent with Jesus’ claims (and those of the Old Testament prophets, including John the Baptist) regarding His identity and authority.

Jesus’ words of condemnation reflect reality. Here is how God feels about sin. Here is how God will judge sin. Here is how seriously God takes the sin of religious hypocrisy. Here is how God will judge ungodly leaders, who not only reject Him, but who lead others to their eternal destruction. Are men uncomfortable with these words? They should be! But these words convey the truth about sin and judgment.

These words of Jesus in verses 37-39 speak of the destruction of Jerusalem, which will come upon that generation that rejected and crucified Him. History tells us that this judgment did come, just as Jesus said it would. If history has verified our Lord’s authority and accuracy regarding that generation, it is only right that we acknowledge His authority and accuracy about the judgment which is still future, the judgment that will come upon all men who reject Him as the Messiah, and as God’s only provision for eternal salvation. Do our Lord’s words in Matthew 23 sound severe? They are, and they are true. His severe words should convey to us how serious the rejection of Jesus is. The rejection of Jesus by Israel’s leaders, and by the people of Jerusalem, led to His crucifixion and to the destruction of Jerusalem. Rejecting Jesus as God’s promised Messiah is a most serious matter. It leads to God’s eternal judgment.

The good news of the gospel is that receiving Jesus as the Messiah leads to eternal blessings. Those who can say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” are those who will have their sins forgiven and who will spend eternity enjoying Him, and the blessings He provides. Let the severity of our Lord’s words serve to indicate how serious the decision is to accept Jesus or to reject Him, as Messiah, as God’s only provision for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.

Is it unduly harsh and unloving to tell condemned people that they are under divine condemnation? The reaction that some have to the severity of Jesus in Matthew 23 is also seen by the way Christians are reviled for speaking against sin today. We are told that it is harsh and unloving for us to tell homosexuals that this behavior is sin and that it results in eternal judgment. But this is what God says:

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can have access to the tree of life and can enter into the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral, and the murderers, and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood! (Revelation 22:14-15)

Who are you today?

Who are you today?

26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. 29 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:26-32).

Does God hate homosexuality as sin? Yes! Will God judge homosexuality as sin? Yes! But notice something. It is not just homosexuality that is sin, sin that God will judge. Homosexuality is not the only sin that will keep men from heaven and condemn them to hell; every sin does that. God condemns homosexuality, alongside adultery and (heterosexual) immorality and greed and drunkenness and murder and envy (and a list of other sins, including hypocrisy). God condemns all sin, and its punishment is eternal torment. But God has also provided a remedy for sin. Jesus Christ came to bear our sins, to suffer our punishment, and to give us His righteousness, so that we can spend eternity with Him. The loving thing to do is to imitate Jesus in Matthew 23 and to warn men of the eternal consequences of sin, foremost of which is rejecting Him as our Savior. Turning hell-bent sinners to Jesus, and thus toward heaven (by trusting in Jesus), is the loving thing to do. Let us never forget this.

Let no one leave this text feeling smug and self-righteous. When judged by Him who knows our hearts, we all fail. All of us are guilty of the sin of hypocrisy, in one way or another. Jesus’ words in this chapter remind us of the words of Romans 3:

9 What then? Are we better off? Certainly not, for we have already charged that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin, 10 just as it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one, 11 there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” … 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:9-18, 23).

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The Great Debate: Death and Taxes Matthew 22:15-33

Matthew 22:15-33

15 Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words. 16 They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality. 17 Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?? 18 But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax. So they brought him a denarius. 20 Jesus said to them, Whose image is this, and whose inscription? 21 They replied, Caesar’s. He said to them, Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. 22 Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away.

23 The same day Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to him and asked him, 24 Teacher, Moses said, If a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and father children for his brother. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children he left his wife to his brother. 26 The second did the same, and the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her. 29 Jesus answered them, You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 Now as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, 32 I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living! 33 When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching (Matthew 22:15-33).

Introduction

I am reminded of the battles between Ahab, king of Israel, and Ben Hadad, king of Syria, as described in 1 Kings 20. To make a long story short, Ben Hadad and 32 other kings besieged Samaria, but God miraculously delivered Israel while dealing a devastating blow to Ben Hadad and his allies. What fascinates me is Ben Hadad’s response to his defeat. He is not willing to accept this defeat, but insists on restaging the battle:

23 Now the advisers of the king of Syria said to him, Their God is a god of the mountains. That’s why they overpowered us. But if we fight them in the plains, we will certainly overpower them. 24 So do this, Dismiss the kings from their command, and replace them with military commanders. 25 Muster an army like the one you lost, with the same number of horses and chariots. Then we will fight them in the plains, we will certainly overpower them. He approved their plan and did as they advised. 26 In the spring Ben Hadad mustered the Syrian army and marched to Aphek to fight Israel (1 Kings 20:23-26).

Ben Hadad couldn’t leave it alone. He had to find an excuse for his defeat that fit his theology, and he insisted on another confrontation. That’s the way I read our text in Matthew 22:15-33.  Jesus has boldly claimed authority as Israel’s Messiah by His triumphal entry, His cleansing of the temple, and His possession of the temple for His teaching and healing ministry (Matthew 21:1-17). It is while Jesus is ministering in the temple that His adversaries,  the religious elite of Jerusalem  choose to challenge Him publicly, demanding that He declare the source of His authority for all He has been doing (Matthew 21:23).

Jesus begins by exposing their long-standing opposition to His authority, beginning with their rejection of John the Baptist and his announcement of the arrival of Israel’s Messiah. Jesus would tell them the source of His authority, if they would disclose the source of John the Baptist’s authority. Was John’s authority from heaven (and thus from God), or from men? They dared not say, because they feared the people, who held that John was a true prophet (Matthew 21:23-27).

Jesus then followed up with three parables, all of which indicted the religious leaders for their rejection of His divine authority as the promised Messiah. The parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32) condemned the religious leaders because they did not repent and believe in John’s message (in the Messiah), even after they saw all the confirming evidence of Jesus identity. These elite were horrified to hear Jesus say that tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom ahead of them.

Jesus then told the parable of the vineyard owner who sent his servants to collect the rent he was due. The tenant farmers rejected the first delegation of servants, then a second, larger and more impressive delegation. Some of these two delegations were beaten, others were killed, and yet others were stoned. Finally, the owner sent his son. Surely they would acknowledge his authority and pay him what was due. But instead, the tenants killed the son, supposing that this would make them the owners. When Jesus asked His audience what this owner should do, they obliged Him by saying that he should completely destroy these wicked men and then lease the vineyard to those who would give him his due. Jesus shocked them when He cited Old Testament Scripture to show that the rejection of Israel’s Messiah (stone) was prophesied, and that this stone would become the cornerstone. He then went on to tell them that this stone would be the destruction of Israel’s builders (leaders). Indeed, the kingdom of God would be taken from them and handed over to another nation that would produce fruit.

Our Lord’s adversaries most certainly got the point. They knew Jesus was speaking about them with His parables. They wanted to arrest Him on the spot, but they dared not. Jesus was there in the temple, and the people not only loved to hear Him, they regarded Him as a prophet (Matthew 21:45-46). But Jesus was not done with them yet. He went on to tell them yet another parable about a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son (Matthew 22:1-14). When the time for the banquet arrived, the king sent out his servants to call the guests. The guests did not come, however. So the king sent even more servants, explaining the culinary benefits of this banquet. Once again the invitation was rejected. Some merely ignored it, going about their own business; others actively rejected the invitation by mistreating and even killing some of the king’s servants.

The next men the king sent out were soldiers, not servants. Those murderers were put to death, and their city was set on fire. Finally servants were sent out to invite those who were far from the elite. People were gathered from the streets, both good and bad. No one declined this invitation, though one gate crasher tried to attend without the required attire. He was condemned to outer darkness.

Many are called, but few are chosen, Jesus said. And the few who were chosen were not the elite, but the riff raff, the lowest element of society. The elite rejected the king’s invitation and were punished. Their city (representing Jerusalem, no doubt) was burned with fire. The unworthy were compelled to come and were provided the necessary attire.

Tribute

Tribute

Those who questioned Jesus authority had been utterly humiliated. This would be a good time to retreat, permanently, but they would not allow it to end this way. They wanted to restage the confrontation. Matthew puts it this way:

Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words (Matthew 22:15).

Luke gives us a more complete picture of the nature of the opposition to Jesus after His triumphal entry:

47 Jesus was teaching daily in the temple courts. The chief priests and the experts in the law and the prominent leaders among the people were seeking to assassinate him, 48 but they could not find a way to do it, for all the people hung on his words (Luke 19:47-48).

19 Then the experts in the law and the chief priests wanted to arrest him that very hour, because they realized he had told this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. 20 Then they watched him carefully and sent spies who pretended to be sincere. They wanted to take advantage of what he might say so that they could deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor (Luke 20:19-20).

They had entered into a war of words, and they had lost badly. Jesus had humiliated them publicly, and they were determined to humiliate Him publicly. They were trying, as Matthew put it, to entrap Him with His own words (Matthew 22:15). Luke tells us that their intention was to trick Jesus into saying something that was illegal against Rome. Jesus had issued a challenge to their religious authority by His triumphal entry and cleansing of the temple. They had sought to discredit Jesus with regard to His spiritual authority, but had failed miserably. So if Jesus had such great authority, let Him dare to speak against Rome. In their minds, Jesus had talked big about His authority to them, so let Him talk big in terms of His authority in relation to Rome. If they could entice Him to speak against Rome (and if He was indeed the King of Israel, why should He not do so?), then they could simply turn Jesus over to Rome and let the political authorities deal with Him.

There is yet another element to this confrontation. It was not Rome that kept the religious elite from seizing Jesus, it was the crowds, who loved hearing Jesus and who also regarded Him as a prophet (Matthew 21:46; see also 22:23). If the religious and political elite were ever to arrest Jesus and eliminate Him, they would have to discredit Him publicly before the crowds. After their first round of opposition (By what authority? Matthew 21:23, 24, 27), they crawled off to lick their wounds. But this time they had time to put their heads together and to think up strategies that Jesus would not expect and would not be able to handle or so they supposed. And so begins the second round of The Great Debate between Jesus and His religious adversaries.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

Matthew 22:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words. 16 They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality. 17 Tell us then, what do you think, Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 18 But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax. So they brought him a denarius. 20 Jesus said to them, Whose image is this, and whose inscription? 21 They replied, Caesar’s. He said to them, Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. 22 Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away (Matthew 22:15-22).

Let us begin by noting who it is who has come to oppose Jesus here. We find an alliance of some kind between the Pharisees and the Herodians. In some ways, it seems an unlikely alliance. The Pharisees were a strict, legalistic, arrogant separatist group. They held firmly to the Law of Moses and, at least theoretically, to the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament as a whole. The Herodians, on the other hand, were those who endorsed and supported Roman rule over Israel. We see very little of the Herodians in the New Testament (they are mentioned only 3 times; here in Matthew 22:15 and its parallel in Mark 12:13, and in Mark 3:6). The Herodians may not have been a religious lot, being more political in their beliefs and practices. While it is sometimes said that they are arch enemies of the Pharisees, it seems that they all too quickly sided with the Pharisees, intent on killing Jesus early in His ministry (Mark 3:6). What would seem obvious is that the Pharisees would carefully scrutinize our Lord’s remarks in the light of their understanding of the Law of Moses (see Matthew 23:1), while the Herodians would listen carefully for any hint of infraction of Roman law. It was as though they had Jesus in a vice, or so it seemed.

Let us now consider the motivation of this delegation of Pharisees and Herodians. We have already noted (above) the comments of Matthew 22:15 and Luke 19:47-48; 20:19-20. We know that this is a carefully contrived trap designed to lure Jesus into a statement that will alarm Rome enough to remove Him as a threat to Rome and (more importantly) to the Jewish establishment (compare John 11:47-53). When the question about taxes is posed, Jesus first exposes the malice and wickedness which prompted it, not to mention the hypocrisy of the question:

But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? (Matthew 22:18)

Their compliments certainly are truthful on one level. Jesus did teach truthfully, and He did not mince His words or show any kind of partiality in what He taught. Jesus told it like it was. Sadly, those who questioned Him did not live up to this standard themselves. When Jesus challenged the religious leaders to declare the source of John the Baptist’s authority, they hedged, not because they had no opinion, but because their opinion was unpopular and they were not willing to pay the price for speaking the truth (see Matthew 21:23-27). Worst of all, perhaps, was that they commended Jesus for a virtue (His truthfulness) that they hoped to turn to a vice, by saying something against Rome.

Let us make a few more observations regarding the question put to Jesus about paying taxes.

(1) The question was a legal one, seeking from Jesus, the teacher (verse 17), an authoritative statement about paying taxes to Caesar, based upon the Old Testament Law. I differ with the translation right (or its equivalents) cited earlier (and in some other translations, including the New Living Translation and the New International Version). I believe this is clearly a reference to the legality of taxation (consistent with the Law of Moses), and not a more general, ethical question. Jesus, the One who authoritatively taught the correct interpretation of the Law (see Matthew 5:17-48; 7:28-29), is now challenged to speak plainly as to whether or not the law required or allowed the payment of taxes to Caesar.

(2) On the surface, this question is about the payment of taxes, but at a deeper level it is a question regarding the acknowledgment of Israel’s subject status to Roman rule and the obligations which flow from this status. In effect, the taxes which are in view are a form of tribute paid to Rome, a tribute which acknowledges the legitimacy of Rome’s authority and control, and thus their right to collect taxes from a subject people. When nations rebelled against their captors, they ceased to pay tribute (see2 Kings 17:1-6). To pay taxes to Rome was to admit one’s subject status to Rome, something which many Jews were unwilling to do:

We are descendants of Abraham, they replied, and have never been anyone’s slaves! How can you say, You will become free? (John 8:33)

(3) The question is illegitimate because it is unfairly restrictive. It allows only two possible answers, and both are wrong. It is like asking, Have you stopped beating your wife? Either answer condemns you as a wife-beater. Jesus gave only two options for the answer to His question to the chief priests and elders of the people (Matthew 21:23-25), but one of the two answers (from heaven? or from men?) was right. They were unwilling to grant the right answer (because they didn’t believe it), and also unwilling to say the wrong answer, but only because of the political repercussions for doing so. It would appear that Jesus was trapped. He could do as the chief priests and elders had done refuse to answer but in that case Jesus would have been no more authoritative than they had been. They would have won with their question because they would have appeared to stump Jesus. No answer was only slightly better than one answer or the other.

Our Lord’s response to this unanswerable question is a masterpiece. Jesus first points out the hypocrisy of the question and the wicked motivation that prompted it. Let no one think Jesus had failed to recognize the question for what it was. But then He goes on to give an answer which leaves everyone in awe, and His interrogators speechless.

Jesus asks them to show Him one of the coins used to pay the tax. He did not ask to see just any coin, but the tax coin, the one which would be used to pay taxes to Caesar. They produced such a coin a denarius which may have been self-incriminating. Someone possessed a coin that was used to pay taxes. This would imply that they did pay their taxes, whether they were Pharisees or Herodians. Jesus then asked whose image was on the coin and whose inscription. They replied, Caesar’s.

Our Lord’s response is simple, elegant, and devastating to those who had sought to incriminate Him. Had Herod himself been present, he could not have challenged this answer (which I will paraphrase):

What belongs to Caesar you should give back to Caesar, what belongs to God you should give back to God. (paraphrase of Matthew 22:21, emphasis mine).

Jesus is very deliberate here in His choice of words, but few translations make this distinction clear to the reader. The word translated pay in their question (Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? (verse 17) is slightly, but significantly, modified by our Lord in His response. He adds a prefix to this Greek word so that now it should rightly be translated, pay back. Thus we have, Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and (give back) to God what belongs to God. What can be wrong with giving back something that belongs to that person in the first place?

The coin was minted and issued by Caesar. It belongs to him. He can require that it be given back any time he wants, and men are obliged to give it back. But Caesar does not own everything. Ultimately, God does. And so we are to give back to God that which rightly belongs to Him. In general terms, we should give ourselves back to God. At this point in time, Jesus teaches that there are at least two realms of authority (God and government), and that each has its own proper sphere and obligations. Our Lord does not spell out what these spheres are. There are several New Testament texts which later will further clarify this matter (Acts 5:29Romans 13:1-7Titus 3:11 Peter 2:13-17), but there is no need for our Lord to do so now. His questioners are not sincerely seeking guidance, they are seeking a pretext in order to accuse Jesus of a crime against Rome.

Those who asked Jesus this question did so because it seemed to suit their purposes, but in the providence of God, this matter of one’s obligations to God and country is raised. Little did any of these challengers realize how soon they would have to make a choice between God and government, indeed between God and Caesar.

14 (Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon.) Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, Look, here is your king! 15 Then they shouted out, Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him! Pilate asked, Shall I crucify your king? The high priests replied, We have no king except Caesar! (John 19:14-15)

There were deeper lessons to be learned concerning God and government, but for the moment, our Lord’s purposes were realized. He had, once again, stunned and silenced those who had purposed to silence His teaching. They were stupefied by how quickly and easily Jesus had turned the tables on them, making His answer the source of their shame and silence.

There is one more thing about our Lord’s answer which we need to observe. Jesus is asked to authoritatively pronounce on the legitimacy (legality) of paying taxes to Caesar. One would surely have expected Jesus to have buttressed His answer with scriptural support (as He will do in answer to the next question), but He does not answer from Scripture. Why not? It is not because there was no answer to be found in Scripture. Jesus could have cited Leviticus 26 or Deuteronomy 28-30 to show that God would subject His people to foreign rulers because of Israel’s sin. He could also have called their attention to men like Joseph (who submitted himself to Pharaoh, Egypt’s king), or Daniel (who submitted himself to Babylonian and Persian kings). He could have cited texts like Jeremiah 29:4-7. There was plenty of scriptural support for Jesus answer, but He chose not to use it.

There are other possible answers, but this answer seemed to stand out among the options Jesus demonstrated His authority by not citing Scripture. Remember that it is Jesus authority that is being called into question. The best that His opponents could say is, Moses said. (see Matthew 22:24). But Jesus could do better, because He was God. Thus repeatedly in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, You have heard it said, but I say to you  (see Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44.). It was by this kind of teaching that Jesus impressed the crowds with His authority (Matthew 7:28-29). Second class authorities cite others with more authority than themselves, first class authorities speak for themselves. That is what Jesus did, and thus He need not cite Scripture, even though His answer was scriptural (consistent with Scripture).

Stunned and silent, these challengers left Jesus alone, no doubt shaking their heads as they retreated (verse 22), wondering, What just happened?

One Bride for Seven Brothers

Matthew 22:23-33

23 The same day Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to him and asked him, 24 Teacher, Moses said, If a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and father children for his brother. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children he left his wife to his brother. 26 The second did the same, and the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her. 29 Jesus answered them, You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 Now as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, 32 I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living! 33 When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching (Matthew 22:23-33).

Until now, the Sadducees have not played a very prominent role in Matthew (the term occurs only five times before appearing in our text, while Pharisee or Pharisees occurs over three times as often in the same chapters). The Sadducees will take on a much larger role in the Book of Acts, after the resurrection. The Sadducees, Matthew informs us, did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23). Luke confirms this, adding that neither did they believe in angels nor spirits (Acts 23:8). The Sadducees were generally part of the wealthy aristocracy. They were anti-supernatural, the power they embraced was more earthly political clout. The Sadducees were lovers of the Greek culture, and they collaborated with Rome. They accepted only the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) as authoritative. The rest was merely commentary, at best.

Like me, you may have jumped to the conclusion that the question of the Sadducees is hypocritical, like that of the Pharisees and Herodians, earlier. But this is not the case. Jesus does not call the Sadducees hypocrites. Jesus told these Sadducees that they were deceived (Mark 12:24), ignorant, and mistaken (Mark 12:27). In Matthew, He calls them deceived and ignorant (Matthew 22:29). They were not being underhanded, but were openly challenging Jesus position on the resurrection of the dead. It is quite clear that the Sadducees, like the chief priests and the Pharisees (Matthew 27:62-66), understood Jesus to teach that there would be a resurrection of the dead.

Thanks to Matthew’s account of the confrontation between the Sadducees and Jesus, we can understand the argument the Sadducees confidently set forth. I believe they sincerely thought that their scriptural proof would demonstrate the fallacy of the doctrine of the resurrection. If this were the case, then Jesus would be discredited because they understood the resurrection to not only be a part of His teaching, but foundational to it. Disprove the resurrection and the Sadducees would discredit Jesus.

Their argument was logical, even if it was fatally flawed. They begin by addressing Jesus as teacher, and then they cite the instruction of Moses regarding levirate marriage from Deuteronomy 25:5. Levirate marriage was designed to insure that a deceased Israelite would have offspring (begotten through his brother).

Citing a text in Deuteronomy concerning levirate marriage accomplished several things. First, it was a proof text from the Pentateuch. Secondly, it established the biblical basis for levirate marriage. Thirdly, it underscored the importance of preserving a line of physical descendants. Finally, it provided the Sadducees the occasion (or so they foolishly assumed) to discredit a belief in the afterlife, and thus the resurrection of the dead.

Here’s how the argument seems to flow. The Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection. Jesus knew this, and the Sadducees made no pretense about who they were and what they did, or didn’t, believe. Matthew informs his readers, because they might not know this. They cited the basis for levirate marriage in the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 25:5), and then proceeded to apply this law in the context of a literal resurrection of the dead (as they knew Jesus believed and taught). The fact that there were seven brothers makes this a pretty fantastic (or should I say fanciful) situation. Surely it was hypothetical and extreme, but that’s what the Sadducees felt they needed to prove their point. Eventually all seven brothers died, but without producing an heir for their deceased brother. Now, in the resurrection, what was to be done with these seven brothers and this one wife? To the Sadducees, it was an impossible situation. And thus, they concluded, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead must be false. (How could one believe a doctrine that led to such an impossible outcome?)

The Sadducees were in no way challenging the legitimacy of the law of levirate marriage. Indeed, they embraced this law because it tended, in their thinking, to support their rejection of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Why was levirate marriage necessary and thus a part of the law? It is because it was essential for an Israelite man to have descendants. And why was it essential for an Israelite to have descendants? Because (the Sadducees reasoned) there is no afterlife, there is only this life. One’s immortality is to be accomplished by preserving his family line of descendants. To the Sadducees, the kingdom of heaven is something earthly and physical. To them, the existence of the law of levirate marriage was itself proof that there was no resurrection. And to more forcefully make their point, they devised this hypothetical situation, which seemed to make bodily resurrection seem impractical.

What I want you to see is that the Sadducees were open and above board in their attempt to discredit our Lord’s teaching concerning the resurrection. They were not hypocritical, as were the Pharisees in the previous challenge (Matthew 22:15-22). Jesus therefore does not rebuke them for hypocrisy. This is not to say that our Lord let them off easily. He did not. His words in response to their challenge must have stung. The Sadducees were people who were used to power and prestige. Their fascination with Greek culture made them think of themselves as the intellectual elite. They were people in the know. They were used to winning arguments and debates, and used to being respected. Jesus told them they were wrong, and that they were wrong because they were both ignorant and deceived.

While they had quoted Scripture, they were not well read in the Scriptures (verse 29). They were ignorant and deceived in two main ways. First of all, they were ignorant concerning the nature of the resurrection. They rejected a stereotype of the resurrection that was not really biblical. I am indebted to Frederick Dale Bruner for his suggestion that the concept of the resurrection the Sadducees rejected was probably that of the Pharisees. To the Pharisees (and others), heaven was life as they knew it, only better and longer. Thus, they assumed that sex and marriage were to be a heavenly experience. And they were wrong.

Jesus corrected their flawed view of the resurrected state by responding that heaven is vastly different than what we experience in this life. Specifically, men will be like the angels in heaven, and thus there will be no marriage. This hypothetical woman would not be anyone’s wife in the resurrection. Both Jesus (Matthew 19:10-12) and Paul (1 Corinthians 7:25-35) speak positively about those who may choose to live on earth as though they were in heaven. In neither case is the single life commanded, but for those who can deal with it, it is commended, especially in particularly difficult times (1 Corinthians 7:26).

If what Jesus says is true ? and it most certainly is then the Sadducees whole argument against the resurrection collapses. There remains only one reason why the resurrection would be denied, men must lack faith in the power of God to accomplish it. That is precisely the indictment Jesus makes against the Sadducees. In the first place, they had misread the Scriptures, concluding that heaven would have marriage, just like we have it on earth. In the second place, they did not know the power of God. They had not experienced God’s mighty power, either intellectually or experientially. They did not believe God was so powerful as to raise the dead.

Render unto Caesar...

Render unto Caesar…

The Sadducees had taken the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 25 and twisted them to disprove the resurrection. Jesus could have gone to Abraham’s offering of Isaac to establish the fact that his faith was a resurrection faith, just as Paul and the writer to the Hebrews would do later in the New Testament (Romans 4:16-25Hebrews 11:17-19). But instead, Jesus went to the very core of Israel’s faith in the Pentateuch:

I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, He is not the God of the dead but of the living! (Matthew 22:32, citing Exodus 3:6)

God’s very name I am tells it all. He is the eternal, ever living God. But He is more than that, He is the God of those who have died. God spoke these words in Exodus 3:6 to Moses several hundred years after the deaths of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God spoke of Himself as the God of those who had trusted in Him, and yet had died. There is but one explanation for Him doing so these men did exist in some sense presently (as we have seen Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2-3), and they will exist in glorious form at the resurrection. That is why the writer to the Hebrews can say,

13 These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. 14 For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Jesus has won hands down. He has destroyed their arguments against the resurrection, and He has shown biblical proof of the resurrection in one of the texts they most revered. We are not told how the Sadducees reacted, but Matthew does tell us how the crowds responded:

When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching (Matthew 22:33).

Were the Sadducees seeking to publicly embarrass and discredit Jesus? It didn’t work. They were shown to be wrong, and with their own Scriptures. They were exposed as poor students of Scripture and as those who had been deceived concerning the resurrection.

Conclusion

Awhile back, Dr. Condoleeza Rice went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the process of becoming Secretary of State. It seemed quite obvious that some of the administration’s opponents wanted the chance to grill this brilliant and capable woman and to be able to voice their opposition to the President’s policy in Iraq. Even though it was apparent that her appointment would be approved, the process was delayed so that more opposition could be voiced.

What a contrast we find in the grilling that the Sadducees intended to give Jesus. They fully intended to show that Jesus was beating a dead horse (pardon the pun) when He taught that all men would be raised from the dead, some to eternal life and others to eternal doom (hell). Jesus exposed His adversaries as poor students of Scripture and those who were greatly deceived, and buttressed His teaching on the resurrection with texts they themselves esteemed. Trust me, they did not wish to prolong this conversation one second longer. Their silence is deafening.

The intent of these questions was to undermine or nullify our Lord’s authority. His opponents wanted to discredit Jesus before the crowds and pit Jesus against Rome. In seeking to challenge our Lord’s authority, the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees only served to enhance it. It was they who were silenced, not Jesus. It was they who had been made to look foolish. The crowds, if they were laughing, were laughing at them, not Jesus.

The questions that were raised dealt with matters of great significance. Notice that both questions pertain to the future. The Sadducees asked Jesus about the resurrection of the dead, while the Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus about the relationship between His kingdom and that of Rome. Both groups and both questions made it clear that our Lord’s opponents were far more interested in the present than in the future. But our Lord’s kingdom was not an earthly one, one that He would establish at that moment by casting aside Roman rule. Jesus made this very clear to Pilate,

Jesus replied, My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here. (John 18:36).

A proper view of heaven is the basis for godly living on earth (2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10; Philippians 1:18-26). No wonder false teachers distort the doctrine of future things (2 Timothy 2:16-182 Peter 3). Who better to speak to us about heaven than the One who came down from heaven (John 6:41, 51).

In the resurrection...

In the resurrection…

Our text is one of several that, by inference, warns us concerning the danger of what I call binary thinking. It is the kind of thinking which believes that it is either one way or the other, but not both. The Pharisees and Herodians pressed Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar. Should one pay taxes to Caesar or not? Yes or no? Jesus said that it was not that simple. One must give back to Caesar what is rightfully his, but he must also give back to God what is His. Is God sovereign, or is man responsible? God is sovereign, and man is responsible. Is Jesus human or divine? He is both. Living the Christian life is living in such a way as to keep certain truths and principles in tension, rather than holding to one and rejecting the other. Living in this way requires guidance and wisdom that comes from God, and He has promised to give us such wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5-8). Let us be careful not to make every issue binary.

In our text, men were questioning the Son of God. It is not wrong to have questions about God and His Word, so long as we seek the answers from His Word and are content about those things He chooses to reveal to us in heaven, rather than on earth. But let us remember that rebellion often surfaces as a question (see, for example, Genesis 4:9). Repentance begins with our agreeing with God, and then acting accordingly.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about authority. Once we grant the authority of the Bible as God’s Word, and the authority of Jesus Christ as the living Word of God, then we have already set our course. When we reject Jesus Christ as God’s provision for our sin, and His only way to heaven, we deny the authority of God, and we establish ourselves as the ultimate authority. I would suggest to you that when men who have rejected Jesus stand before God in heaven, they will be as silent as those who sought to oppose Jesus in our text. We will have no excuse, and no argument will justify our rebellion against Jesus. Jesus alone is God’s way of salvation. Trust in Him and live.

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Why Study the Tabernacle?

Why Study the Tabernacle?

The Tabernacle of Ancient Israel was a sanctuary which was given in a vision to Moses as a pattern and constructed by the children of Israel. God’s promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

A) 50 Chapters Mention The Tabernacle

Because at least 50 chapters (13-Ex, 18-Lev, 13-Num, 2-Deut, 4-Heb) in the Bible tell of the construction, the ritual, the priesthood, the carrying of the tabernacle, and the meaning of it all. Also many other places in Scripture speak in figurative language concerning the tabernacle. In many Bible studies this subject is overlooked and considered insignificant.

 

 

Tearing of the Veil

Tearing of the Veil

B) The Tearing of the Veil

God Himself thought so much of the importance of the type, as shown by the tearing of the veil:

Matt 27:50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

If we don’t understand the meaning in Scripture of the holy of holies and the veil we miss out on extremely significant information concerning exactly what Christ’s death meant to sinful mankind.

 

 

Tabernacle

Tabernacle

C) The Tabernacle is a Type of Christ:

Remember what the Word says, “all Scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed) of God…” When we look at the Bible we must remember that it is completely God-breathed. When we look at each Word we must remember that every Word is specifically God-breathed. That was the view of Christ when it came to the Scriptures, that was the view of the apostles, and that must be our view. This is the very Word of God. It doesn’t just contain the Word of God, or just point to religious experience, this is the Word of God.

Is it any wonder then that each and every detail and Word about the tabernacle has spiritual significance? As we look to the tabernacle structure itself and its unique pieces of redemptive furniture there is great symbolism and typology found in them. Remember, everything was a finger pointing to the Messiah. The tabernacle, as a type, designed specifically and in detail by God, would point to the character and aspects of the ministry of Christ. The more we become familiar with the tabernacle the more we become familiar with Christ and all that He means to us. What a great reason to become familiar with the Scriptures concerning the tabernacle.

Heb 10:20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

Col 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

 

Temple Resemblance of Man

Temple Resemblance of Man

D) It is a Representation of the True Tabernacle in Heaven:

The Lord wants us to be aware of His nature and character. Even the angels don’t fully understand the nature and character of God but they learn from watching His dealings with His church (Eph 3). Things are really happening in the heavenly dimension and the Lord wants to reveal to us what took place in heaven after the resurrection of Christ. There is a real tabernacle in the heavenlies and Christ really appeared before the throne of heaven as the Lamb of God (Rev 5). There is no doubt that some of these things are a mystery but the more we draw close to God and His Word the more He draws close to us.

Heb 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.

 

 

Furnishing the Tabernacle

Furnishing the Tabernacle

E) The Presence Within the Holy of Holies Dwells Within the Believer in Jesus:

Jesus said I am the temple (Mishkan) of God. When the glory (Heb. Sh’chinah) would come down like a tornado or funnel right through the roof of the holy of holies and the Presence would manifest on the mercy seat between the cherubim after the blood was sprinkled, that was the mishkan. That Presence was what Jesus said dwelt within Him. And in fact Paul said about the church, “Know ye not that you are the temple (Mishkan) of God?” We, as the body of Christ, have the same Presence dwelling within us. God doesn’t dwell in buildings now but within His people.

1 Cor 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

 

Inside The Tabernacle

Inside The Tabernacle

F) Its teaching covers in type almost all of New Testament truth.

The study of the tabernacle is so rich in meaning to the Christian and so pregnant with Messianic significance that we can spend a lifetime in the study of it and only begin to understand the riches and the depth of truth that lies within the study of the tabernacle.

Rom 15:4 “Whatever things that were written before were written for our learning.”

 

G) Studying the Tabernacle will absolutely strengthen our faith in the Bible.

Be assured that anyone who has delved into the wonderful details of the tabernacle will confess that the Bible is more than just a book. No man could have thought of this. The Bible is the Word of God.

“all Scripture is given by inspiration of God…”

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THE FIVE LEVITICAL OFFERINGS

THE FIVE LEVITICAL OFFERINGS

The Sacrifices

images/T9.gifThe sacrificial system was ordained by God and placed at the very center and heart of Jewish national life. Whatever the Jews may have thought of it at the time, the unceasing sacrifice of animals, and the never-ending glow of fire at the altar of sacrifice, there is no doubt that god was burning into the hearts of every man, an awareness of their own sin. An object lesson that would make your skin crawl was to be an age long picture of the coming sacrifice of Messiah. The sacrifices pointed to Him and they were fulfilled in Him.

There are many instructions for sacrifice throughout the Pentateuch, but Leviticus chapters 1-7 is completely dedicated to the 5 Levitical offerings which were the main sacrifices used in the rituals. They describe 5 kinds of sacrifices: The burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. Each of the sacrifices were uniquely fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
The Burnt Offerings

The burnt offering was a sacrifice that was completely burnt. None of it was to be eaten at all, and therefore the fire consumed the whole sacrifice. It is also important to note that the fire on the altar was never to go out:

Lev 6:13 ‘A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.

The common Israelite worshipper brought a male animal (a bull, lamb, goat, pigeon, or turtledove depending on the wealth of the worshipper) to the door of the tabernacle.

Lev 1:3 ‘Let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.

The animal had to be without blemish. The worshipper then placed his hands upon the head of the animal and in awareness that this innocent animal was standing in for the sinner he would seek the Lord for forgiveness and then killed the animal immediately.

Lev 1:4-9 ‘Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. ‘He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting . . . and the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

The priests were also responsible to wash various parts of the animal before putting it on the altar:

Lev 1:6-9 ‘And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. ‘The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. ‘Then the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; ‘but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water.

Later In Israel’s history there were burnt offerings made twice per day, one at morning and one at evening (when the first star appeared:

Num 28:3-4 “And you shall say to them, ‘This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to the LORD: two male lambs in their first year without blemish, day by day, as a regular burnt offering. ‘The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening”

The Burnt offering was performed to atone for the peoples sins against the Lord and was a dedication offering of ones life before the Lord continually.


The Meal Offerings

The Israelites offered meal (cereals) or vegetables in addition to the animals. Leviticus chapter 2 mentions 4 kinds of cereal offerings and gives cooking instructions for each. The sinner could offer dough from wheat flour baked in an oven, cooked on a griddle, fried in a pan, or roasted to make bread (as in the offering of the first fruits). All meal offerings were made with oil and salt and no honey and leaven were to be used (oil and salt preserved while honey and leaven would spoil). The worshipper was also to bring a portion of incense (frankincense).

The meal offerings were brought to one of the priests, who took it to the altar and cast a “memorial portion” on the fire and he did this also with the incense. The priest ate the remainder unless he was bringing the meal offering for himself where he would burn the whole thing.

The purpose of the meal offering was an offering of gifts and speaks of a life that is dedicated to generosity and giving.


The Peace Offerings

The peace offering was a meal that was shared with the Lord, the priests, and sometimes the common Israelites. The worshipper was to bring a male or female oxen, sheep, or a goat. The ritual was closely compared to the burnt offering up to the point of the actual burning where the animals blood was poured around the edges of the altar. The fat and entrails were burned and the remainder was eaten by the priests and (if it was a free-will offering) by the worshippers themselves. This sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving was most of the time a voluntary act.

The Peace offerings included unleavened cakes. The priests ate all except the memorial portion of the cakes and certain parts of the animal on the same day the sacrifice was made, and when the worshipper joined in and the offering was free-will the worshipper could eat for 2 days of the whole animal except the breast and the right thigh which were eaten by the priests.

Jacob and Laban offered a peace offering when they made their treaty (Gen 31:43 ff). It was required to make offerings while making a vow of ones life to God and thanking Him with praise while free-will offerings were voluntary.


The Sin Offerings

The sin offering expiated (paid the debt in full) the worshippers unintentional weaknesses and failures before the Lord.

Lev 4:1-4 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them, ‘if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. ‘He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, lay his hand on the bull’s head, and kill the bull before the LORD.

Each class of people had various ordinances to perform:

Sins of the high priest required the offering of a bull and the blood was not poured on the altar but sprinkled from the finger of the high priest 7 times on the altar. Then the fat was burnt, and the remainder was burned (never eaten) outside the camp “unto a clean place” where the sacrifice was made and the ashes were poured out.

Lev 4:12 ‘the whole bull he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.

Sins of the leaders required the offering of a male goat. the blood was sprinkled only once and the remainder was poured around the altar as with the burnt offering.

Sins of the common Israelites required female animals, goats, lambs, turtle doves, or pigeons and in the case of the very poor an offering of grain was acceptable just like a meal offering.

Unintentional sins were difficult to identify and could happen at any time and therefore the priests worked closely as mediators with God and the people and were there to instruct the people as they sought the Lord. In case any sins were not brought before the Lord there were offerings for the nation and for the high priest which covered them all in a collective way. On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat for his own sins and the sins of the nation.


The Trespass Offerings

The trespass offering was very similar to that of the sin offering but the main difference was that the trespass offering was an offering of money for sins of ignorance connected with fraud. For example if someone unintentionally cheated another out of money or property, his sacrifice was to be equal to the amount taken, plus one-fifth to the priest and to the one offended. Therefore he repaid twice the amount taken plus 40 %.

Lev 6:5-7 “He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any one of these things that he may have done in which he trespasses.”

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Jewish Tradition – The Treatment of Animals

Even though the Lord prescribed the slaughtering of animals for sacrifice and for food, the treatment of animals is of the utmost importance in Judaism. The Talmud describes with minute care and detail how an animal is to be slaughtered for food, and the regulations are given mainly because of the desire to inflict as painless a death as possible. The slaughterer could not be a deaf-mute, or a minor, and he must be of sound mind (Chul. 1. 1). The knife must be perfectly smooth without the slightest perceptible notch and “the knife must be tested as to its three sides upon the flesh of the finger and upon the nail” (ibid. 17b).

 

You shall present a burnt offering for an appeasing fragrance to God, one young bull, one ram, and seven yearling sheep

You shall present a burnt offering for an appeasing fragrance to God, one young bull, one ram, and seven yearling sheep

There are five causes of disqualification (ibid. 9a). [1] Delay (Heb. shehiyah), there must be a continuous forward and backward motion of the knife without any interruption. [2] Pressure (Heb. derasah), the cut must be made gently, without the exercise of any force. [3] Digging (Heb. chaladah), the knife must not be inserted into the flesh instead of drawn across the throat. [4] Slipping (Heb. hagramah), the cut must not be made except through a prescribed section of the neck. [5] Tearing (Heb. ikkur), the cut must be done without dislocating the windpipe or gullet. Any one of these actions would render the animal unfit for consumption, because it would have inflicted pain upon the animal.

Judaism teaches proper care of animals and a love and respect for them. They were to be properly fed (p. Jeb. 14d), and “a man must not eat his meal before giving food to his cattle (Ber. 40a). This was taken from the Scripture:

Deut 11:15 “And He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and then you shall eat and be satisfied.”

Judaism teaches man to praise the animals because they are models for humans to imitate.“Had the Torah not been given to us for our guidance, we could not have learnt modesty from the cat, honesty from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners from the cock” (Erub. 100b). The Lord taught Moses to care for sheep before he would care for and lead his fellow man (Exod. R 11.2)

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The Passover Plan: Man Proposes, God Disposes (Matthew 26:1-29)

Matthew 26:1-29

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he told his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people met together in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. 4 They planned to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, so that there won’t be a riot among the people.”

6 Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of expensive perfumed oil, and she poured it on his head as he was at the table. 8 When the disciples saw this, they became indignant and said, “Why this waste? 9 It could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor!” 10 When Jesus learned of this, he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a good service for me. 11 For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me! 12 When she poured this oil on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me to betray him into your hands?” So they set out thirty silver coins for him. 16 From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him.

17 Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. I will observe the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had instructed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he took his place at the table with the twelve. 21 And while they were eating he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 They became greatly distressed and each one began to say to him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” 27 And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:1-29). 

Introduction

There are all too many people who look upon the death of Jesus Christ as a tragic accident, and upon our Lord Himself as the victim. I don’t know where this idea comes from, but it is not from the Gospels themselves. The Gospel writers are careful to demonstrate that the death of Jesus Christ is not only the purpose of God, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, but it was also His doing, in spite of significant opposition. I urge you to consider our text with this in mind. Our text is not an unrelated conglomeration of stories; it is a carefully laid out demonstration of the sovereignty of our Lord in bringing about His death as prophecy indicated and the purposes of God required.

Matthew 26:1-5

The Tension in This Text: Something, or Someone, Has to Give

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he told his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people met together in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. 4 They planned to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, so that there won’t be a riot among the people” (Matthew 26:1-5).

Our Lord’s Declaration Regarding His Death

The first two verses of Matthew 26 contain our Lord’s declarations regarding His imminent death. Note that Matthew wants us to recognize that these words follow the completion of the Olivet Discourse in chapters 24 and 25. I believe our Lord wanted us to view His impending crucifixion in the light of the larger plan, as He has just outlined it. The cross is part of God’s all-encompassing plan of redeeming fallen man, and thereby to glorify Himself.

Note further that when Jesus speaks of His death, He does so as something His disciples already know: “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for crucifixion” (verse 2). The possibility of our Lord’s death had probably haunted His disciples for some time. Think of all the attempts on His life. For example, Herod sought to kill Him while just an infant (Matthew 2). After Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, the Pharisees plotted to kill Him (Matthew 12:14). When Jesus introduced Himself as the Messiah in the synagogue at Nazareth, He then spoke of His bringing salvation to the Gentiles, as well as to Jews. Hearing this, the crowd sought to throw Jesus over a cliff (Luke 4:28-29). Jesus spent a good bit of His time in Galilee because the Jews in Judea were seeking to kill Him (John 7:1). When Jesus determined to go to Bethany, where Lazarus already had died, His disciples realized the danger that this posed:

So Thomas (called Didymus) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us go too, so that we may die with him” (John 11:16).

Jesus was referring to more than just these attempts when He told His disciples that they knew He was to die. On several earlier occasions in Matthew, Jesus specifically foretold His coming death:

From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Matthew 16:21).

When they gathered together in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men (Matthew 17:22).

18 “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the experts in the law. They will condemn him to death, 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged severely and crucified. Yet on the third day, he will be raised” (Matthew 20:18-19).

In Matthew 16:21, our Lord informed His disciples that He would suffer and die in Jerusalem, and then be raised from the dead on the third day. He also indicated that He would suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes. In Matthew 17:22, Jesus added that He would be betrayed. In Matthew 20:18-19, our Lord added that He would be handed over to the Gentiles, and that He would be crucified. All these things the disciples “knew,” or should have known, because Jesus told them so.

Now, in Matthew 26:1-2, Jesus underscores two very important details regarding His death. The first is not new – He will be crucified. The second detail is new – He will be crucified during Passover. The death of our Lord will be soon, just a couple of days away. And His death will be by crucifixion, a very public death.

The Conspiracy of the Jewish Leaders

Matthew 26:3-5

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was opposed by the scribes and Pharisees. But now the most powerful Jews in Israel have taken up the cause. We know why from John’s Gospel. Not long before (after the raising of Lazarus), they met to discuss how to deal with Jesus and His popularity among the people:

47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees called the council together and said, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” 51 (Now he did not say this on his own, but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not for the Jewish nation only, but to gather together into one the children of God who are scattered.) 53 So from that day they planned together to kill him (John 11:47-53).

Jesus was becoming so popular and powerful among the people that the religious leaders realized if He were not stopped, everyone would believe in Him. What a testimony to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. The religious leaders knew that if Jesus won the crowds over, they would lose their positions of prominence, power, and prestige. The Romans were willing to let them rule so long as they maintained law and order, and Jesus appeared to be a threat to the status quo.

It was none other than Caiaphas, the high priest, who proposed that Jesus must be killed. After our Lord’s triumphal entry and taking possession of Jerusalem and the temple, the Jewish elite were terrified by the threat Jesus posed. And so they conspired to put Jesus to death. They weren’t quite sure how they would do this, but they did agree on one thing: it could not be done in a way that incited the crowds. They were resolved to arrest Jesus “by stealth,” that is, they would do it in a very secretive (and likely underhanded) manner. They wished to do it in a way that did not attract attention, especially the attention of the masses. Thus, they would not dare to kill Him during the Passover, or they would have a riot on their hands, or so they feared. They would seize Jesus after the Passover celebration (including the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread) was over.

I believe Matthew is laying out our Lord’s prophecy regarding His death in a way that sets it in direct opposition to the plan of the Jewish leaders. At their meeting in the palace of Caiaphas, they agreed that they would kill Jesus, but it must be done in a way that did not incite the masses to riot. They did not have all the particulars worked out. They did not determine how they would gain access to Jesus, nor precisely how they would kill him. They did resolve that they would kill Jesus by stealth, that is by treachery that was secretly executed. What they did to Jesus would be done in secret, as much as possible. This meant that Jesus would most certainly not be killed by crucifixion. That was far too public. Their method of choice was generally “stoning” because that was what the law prescribed in the case of blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16Matthew 26:65-66), as well as many other offenses. It was what some of the Jews had attempted on several occasions (John 8:59; 10:31; 11:8). Crucifixion just wouldn’t accomplish what they had in mind.

A second restriction that the Jewish leaders agreed upon was that they did not dare to kill Jesus during the feast (Matthew 26:5). That would surely provoke the people to riot. Since the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted for a week, the entire feast period (plus the two days leading up to the feast) would be nearly two weeks.

And so here is the dilemma. Jesus told His disciples He would die during Passover, in just two days. The Jewish leaders agreed that He must not be killed for nearly two weeks. Jesus said that He would die by crucifixion, and (earlier) that the Romans would be involved. In other words, Jesus indicated that His death would be brought about in a very public matter, and it would involve much suffering and persecution. The Jewish leaders purposed to wait until after the feast; Jesus said He must die during the feast, as the Passover Lamb.

No two plans for His death could be more diametrically opposed. What Jesus told His disciples would happen was exactly what the Jewish leaders determined would not happen. Somebody is not going to get their way. Someone is going to have to give way to the other. This is the tension Matthew sets up at the beginning of the events leading to the cross. It is a tension Matthew wants us to feel. Matthew wants his readers to pay attention to whose plans are fulfilled, and whose plans are not. If Jesus is to die as He has said (and as prophecy has required), He must do so against the plans and efforts of the most powerful Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. I am reminded here of the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, or of the “battle of the gods” at the exodus.

At the Table With Jesus: Worship and Whining

Matthew 26:6-13

6 Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of expensive perfumed oil, and she poured it on his head as he was at the table. 8 When the disciples saw this, they became indignant and said, “Why this waste? 9 It could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor!” 10 When Jesus learned of this, he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a good service for me. 11 For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me! 12 When she poured this oil on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:6-13).

Those of us who live in the West are predisposed to think chronologically, and thus we would assume that verses 6-13 took place shortly after Jesus’ words in verses 1-2. But in fact this is not the case. Matthew gives us no clear indication regarding the timing of this event, but John’s account makes a number of things clear to us:

1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 So they prepared a dinner for Jesus there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus was among those present at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took three quarters of a pound of expensive aromatic oil from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus. She then wiped his feet dry with her hair. (Now the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.) 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was going to betray him) said, 5 “Why wasn’t this oil sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” 6 (Now Judas said this not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money box, he used to steal what was put into it.) 7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept it for the day of my burial. 8 For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me!” (John 12:1-8)

This meal took place six days before the Passover, while Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:1-2 were spoken two days before Passover. Matthew tells us about an unnamed woman who anoints Jesus with precious perfumed oil; John tells us that this woman was none other than Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. We are not really surprised because this dinner was served in Bethany, where Lazarus and his sisters lived. Matthew names only one person in his account, Simon the leper (Matthew 26:6), a man whose name we don’t really recognize. All others are nameless in Matthew’s account. Not so with the Gospel of John. He names Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, but he does not mention Simon the leper. He also names Judas. John informs us that it was Judas who protested, apparently stirring up his fellow disciples. John also provides the motive for Judas’ protest. Judas was the treasurer of the group, and he was accustomed to helping himself to some of the funds in his possession.

Let us consider the relationship between Matthew 26:1-5 and verses 6-13, first from Matthew’s perspective, and then from John’s.

In Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples that He will be crucified in just two days, during Passover. No reaction from the disciples is recorded (either by Matthew, or by any other Gospel writer). The disciples seem oblivious to what lies ahead. But then we read in the following verses about a meal that occurred several days earlier, a meal which Jesus and His disciples attended. A woman takes this occasion to worship and adore her Lord by anointing Him with an expensive fragrance. The disciples are incensed, protesting that this money could have been put to better use. Better use? What better use could this fragrance have? Who is more worthy of this extravagance than Jesus? And yet the disciples are angry with her for being wasteful.

Jesus sees more than just an act of adoration in what this woman has done; He sees preparation for His burial. Four days before He speaks to His disciples concerning His death, this woman (Mary) seems to know what is ahead. She sees this, perhaps, as her final act of devotion to Jesus.

Matthew’s account provides us with one connection between verses 1-5 and verses 6-13; John’s account provides us with yet another. Matthew’s focus is on Mary (although unnamed) at this moment. Jesus’ prediction of the manner and timing of His death (just two days away) seemed to have little impact on the disciples. Perhaps it just went over their heads. Mary, however, seems to have been listening more intently. She was preparing Him for His burial, and Jesus commended her worship as such.

When we come to the account of this anointing in John’s Gospel, we find that it was Judas who protested regarding this “waste” of the precious substance. How fitting that it was Judas who objected. He believed that Jesus was not worthy of such extravagant worship; Mary believed that He was worthy. The disciples seem to have foolishly joined with Judas in his protest. We now see that money was more important to Judas than Jesus was (what Mary did to Jesus, Judas objected, was a waste of money). To Mary, Jesus was worthy of her most precious possession. Mary was right.

A Deal with the Devil

A Deal with the Devil

A Deal with the Devil

Matthew 26:14-16

14 Then one of the twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me to betray him into your hands?” So they set out thirty silver coins for him. 16 From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him (Matthew 26:14-16).

Reading only Matthew, we might wonder what the connection is between verses 1-13 and verses 14-16. Thanks to John’s Gospel, we know what the connection is. Judas and Mary are the keys to this text. Mary represents the godly response to Jesus and to His predictions regarding His death. She, unlike Peter (Matthew 16:21-23), does not resist His death; she prepares Him for His death and burial. Judas does not consider Jesus worthy to follow any longer, and so for a few silver coins, he will betray Him. And this he does by means of a kiss, a mock act of love and devotion.

After reading verses 3-5 of Matthew 26, we can see how Judas would appear to be the perfect solution to the Jewish leaders’ dilemma. Judas was one of the intimate followers of Jesus. He could provide them with the ideal place and time to seize Jesus privately, by stealth, and kill Him. Or so it would seem. The meal described in verses 6-13 provided the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for Judas. He was angered by the waste of the precious perfume, or rather the money it could have produced if sold. He would have been able to steal some of that money unnoticed. Jesus’ rebuke must have been the icing on the cake. That was it for Judas! If he could not get money the way he normally did (by stealing some from the bag he kept as the treasurer), then he would get it from the enemies of Jesus, who would pay well for his betrayal.

And so the deal was struck, a deal with the devil himself. John put it this way:

1 Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end. 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus (John 13:1-2).

For thirty silver coins Judas would give these leaders the inside information which would facilitate the private seizure of Jesus. It was a bargain made in hell.

Matthew began this chapter by establishing the tension between our Lord’s prophecy regarding His death (in two days, on Passover, by crucifixion) and the plans of the Jewish leaders (secret arrest and killing, not during the feast). It would seem that the Jewish leaders now have the upper hand. They now appear to have the solution to their problem of gaining access to Jesus secretly, and at the right time.

Can you imagine the relief and the joy that the Jewish leaders felt when Judas came to them with his offer of betraying Jesus? I can almost see the smiles on their faces. Now, it would seem, they have the means to accomplish their plans and to achieve their goal of removing Jesus and thus the threat He posed. They should not count their chickens before they are hatched. The following verses show how our Lord turns all of this to His advantage, so that His prophecy (not to mention many other Old Testament prophecies) is fulfilled.

The Perfect Private Opportunity for Betrayal – Or Was it?

Matthew 26:17-19

17 Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. I will observe the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had instructed them, and they prepared the Passover (Matthew 26:17-19).

Without further revelation, we might think that the end is near for Jesus, nearer than He prophesied. According to Matthew’s bare-bones account, the disciples know it is time for them to observe the Passover with their Lord, and they don’t know where that will be. Surely they will need to make the necessary preparations. All Jesus needs to do, it would seem, is to tell them where He wishes to observe Passover and they will take care of these preparations.

Matthew simply tells us that Jesus instructed them to go to the city “to a certain man” and tell him that the Master’s time is near, and that He will observe Passover at his house. What man? What house? Which disciples? Matthew withholds this information from his readers. He merely tells us that the disciples did as Jesus instructed. Knowing what we do from verses 14-16, we might easily conclude that Jesus is walking straight into a trap. If Judas knew where this private celebration would be held, all he had to do was to inform the Jewish leaders and Jesus could be arrested privately.

Matthew leaves us holding our breath, wondering if Jesus will be arrested. From his abbreviated and somewhat vague description of events, we might conclude that Jesus informed all of His disciples where the Passover would be observed. Thankfully, we are given a much more detailed account by Mark:

12 Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and told them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16 So the disciples left, went into the city, and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover (Mark 14:12-16).

As always, Jesus had carefully made the necessary preparations to assure that His purposes would be accomplished. Mark informs us that Jesus told only two of His disciples how to prepare for the Passover, and thanks to Luke (Luke 22:8), we know that one of these was not Judas. The two disciples were Peter and John, presumably the most trustworthy of the bunch, the two who would become prominent leaders in the church after Pentecost.

Jesus had carefully prearranged for the Passover with an unnamed person, who would appear to be a follower of Jesus as Messiah. Even if overheard by the other disciples (something I am inclined to assume), the instructions our Lord gave to Peter and John would not have given the specific information Judas would have required. Even Peter and John did not know where they were going ahead of time. They would be met by a man carrying water. Was this by previous arrangement, or by providence? We are not told. Did this man know to meet the disciples, or did they providentially come upon him? The two disciples were told to follow this man to the place where he was taking the water. Was this the water for the disciples’ feet to be washed? We do not know. But inside they would meet the owner of the house. They were to indicate to him that they were looking for the room where “the Teacher” would observe Passover. He will then show them the room he has already prepared. Presumably the disciples would make any remaining preparations, and then at the last moment Jesus would arrive with the rest of His disciples. That would prevent Judas from slipping out and revealing the place where they would privately gather. Judas may have been willing to betray Jesus at this point, but he was not able, because Jesus had prevented him from doing so. Jesus is in control, not Judas, and not the other disciples, and not the Jewish leaders who were determined to kill Him. Indeed, this meal would not be the occasion for them to get the best of Jesus; it would be the occasion that Jesus would set in motion the events which would lead to the fulfillment of His prophecies regarding His death, during Passover.

Another Shocking Revelation

Matthew 26:20-25

20 When it was evening, he took his place at the table with the twelve. 21 And while they were eating he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 They became greatly distressed and each one began to say to him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself” (Matthew 26:20-25).

In the Book of Proverbs, we are told, “The wicked person flees when there is no one pursuing, but the righteous person is as confident as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). How could Judas be anything but uneasy about His relationship with Jesus and His disciples? And He had good reason, for Jesus knew from eternity who would betray Him:

“But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) (John 6:64)

70 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is the devil?” 71 (Now he said this about Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for Judas, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.) (John 6:70-71)

How Judas must have dreaded looking Jesus and his fellow disciples in the eye, knowing he had agreed to betray them all. But he must hold out until he could discern a favorable time to hand Jesus over to His enemies, and this could only be done by remaining among them.

Unlike Mark, Matthew has kept his readers in suspense, wondering what will come of all these things. Had we not known the outcome, we should be wondering if Judas would have known and revealed the time and place of their gathering for Passover. In the midst of the meal, Jesus drops a bomb that shakes all of His disciples: One of them is going to betray Him. All of the disciples are shocked, so much so that they are not thinking of others, but only of themselves: “Surely not I, Lord?” (Matthew 26:22)

Judas knows he is the betrayer, and now he seeks to learn whether Jesus knows it or not: “Surely not I, Rabbi?” (Matthew 26:25)

Note the subtle change from the disciples’ “Surely not I, Lord” to Judas’ “Surely not I, Rabbi.” In a conversation that the others somehow did not hear, or at least did not grasp, Jesus clearly indicated to Judas that He knew he would betray Him. Jesus did more than reveal to Judas that his treachery was known; He issued a warning to Him regarding the eternal consequences of his actions:

“The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born” (Matthew 26:24).

Once again, Matthew keeps us in suspense. He does not tell us how Judas responded. He simply goes on to describe the significance of our Lord’s death at Passover. But John gives us some important additional details:

26 Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread after I have dipped it in the dish.” Then he dipped the piece of bread in the dish and gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son. 27 And after Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 (Now none of those present at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him to buy whatever they needed for the feast, or to give something to the poor.) 30 Judas took the piece of bread and went out immediately. (Now it was night.) (John 13:26-30)

From Matthew’s suspenseful account, we are left in doubt as to what became of Judas after our Lord’s shocking revelation to him that he was the betrayer. Jesus knew exactly what Judas was about to do. Did the disciples, sitting there when the private words were exchanged between Jesus and Judas (which informed Judas that Jesus knew it was him), hear? Did they understand what Jesus had just said? If they did Judas was in grave danger. You will recall that at least Peter was armed with a sword (see Luke 22:38John 18:10-11). I doubt that had he known what Judas was up to he would have hesitated to use his sword to defend his Lord, and to eliminate the threat Judas posed.

From John’s Gospel, we know that our Lord gave Judas permission to leave, and, indeed, to get on with his mission: “What you are about to do, do quickly” (John 18:27).

Judas could not get out of that room fast enough. He could never go back. Jesus knew him to be His betrayer, and he could not be certain that the disciples might not figure it out. Whatever he did, he must do it quickly. And so Judas left the room and went immediately to the Jewish leaders to betray the Lord Jesus. And so we now know, thanks to John, that the last verses of our text are an account of what took place after the departure of Judas. The bread and the cup would be shared only among those who believed.

We dare not miss the significance of what we have just read. Our Lord’s revelation (to Judas at least) of the identity of His betrayer forced him and the Jewish leaders to revise their plans. They had earlier resolved that the arrest and murder of Jesus would not be during the feast. Now, if Judas were to enable them to achieve their goal of arresting Jesus, it would have to be now, during the feast. Judas could never return to our Lord’s inner circle of disciples. Judas must act now or never, and act he did. But that is the subject of our next study. For now we will go back to that private room, back to our Lord and His true disciples, and to the meaning of His death.

The Meaning of Passover

Matthew 26:26-29

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” 27 And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29).

Jesus was the Passover Lamb:

4 But he lifted up our illnesses,

he carried our pain;

even though we thought he was being punished,

attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.

5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,

crushed because of our sins;

he endured punishment that made us well;

because of his wounds we have been healed.

6 All of us had wandered off like sheep;

each of us had strayed off on his own path,

but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.

7 He was treated harshly and afflicted,

but he did not even open his mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,

like a sheep silent before her shearers,

he did not even open his mouth (Isaiah 53:4-7).

On the next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

32 Now the passage of scripture the man was reading was this:

“He was led like a sheep to slaughter,

and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

33 In humiliation justice was taken from him.

Who can describe his posterity?

For his life was taken away from the earth.”

34 Then the eunuch said to Philip, “Please tell me, who is the prophet saying this about himself or someone else?” 35 So Philip started speaking, and beginning with this scripture proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him (Acts 8:32-35).

7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough—you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

14 So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb! 15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They will never go hungry or be thirsty again, and the sun will not beat down on them, nor any burning heat, 17 because the Lamb in the middle of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:14-17).

Verses 26-29 of our text explain the significance of our Lord’s death, at just the right time – Passover. Leaving Judas behind, Matthew turns to our Lord, who is the true focus of this text. Jesus is the Passover Lamb, the One symbolized by the lamb sacrificed at the first Passover, just before the Israelites left Egypt (Exodus 12). He is the One foretold by Isaiah (Isaiah 52:13—53:12, etc.). His death must take place during Passover, because He is the true Passover Lamb.

Matthew does not go into great detail in our text, but he does give us the essentials. Our Lord gave the disciples bread, which symbolized His sinless body. He alone was without sin, and thus qualified to die for the sins of others, rather than for His own sins:

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21; see John 8:46).

18 You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, you were ransomed—not by perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Minutes after I had delivered this message in our church, we were observing communion. The relevance of this text came to me as we were partaking of the bread. The bread does not symbolize the death of our Lord; the cup does, symbolizing Christ’s shed blood. The bread symbolizes the perfection of our Lord’s body. He is the only One who has ever been without sin. He is the unblemished, spotless Sacrificial Lamb. The bread is unleavened, symbolizing the sinlessness of our Lord. It is only because of His sinless perfection that He could die for the sins of others. The sinlessness of our Lord is the reason why His shed blood is precious and effective for us.

Mary’s act of selfless, sacrificial worship now comes into even sharper focus. Mary’s fragrance was to be used for the purpose of anointing and enhancing someone’s body. What better body to use it on than the perfect body of our Lord, Jesus Christ? Her act of worship is a testimony to the perfection of our Lord, in a human body. Her sacrificial act not only prepared our Lord’s body for burial, it declared the perfection of His body as a suitable sacrifice.

Jesus then passed the cup, symbolizing His blood, which would be shed on the cross of Calvary. The meaning and significance of His shed blood is further explained as being “the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Jesus’ death on the cross instituted the New Covenant, fulfilling Old Testament texts like this:

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

As the true Passover Lamb, Jesus fulfilled the New Covenant, and delivered repentant sinners from the guilt of the Old. In so doing, He accomplished the forgiveness of sins, once for all, for all who believe (“for many,” Matthew 26:28). His words looked forward, not only to His death at Calvary, but also to His resurrection:

29 I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).

We can now look back and see the hand of God in every portion of our Scripture text. Jesus revealed His plan to die by crucifixion at the time of the Passover. The Jewish leaders resolved that He would die, but in a different way and at a different time. The anointing of Jesus by an unknown woman (unknown so far as Matthew is concerned, but we know her to be Mary) was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Judas. He could not stand to see such extravagance, such waste! And the disciples bought into this argument. Only Mary, it would seem, had a grasp of what was about to happen, and acted appropriately.

Judas then went to the Jewish leaders and struck a deal. He would provide them with just what they needed – an inside track to be able to find the right time and place to seize Jesus. He would betray the Lord Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It looked as though this could happen at our Lord’s observance of the Passover with His disciples. But Jesus carefully eliminated this possibility by sending only Peter and John, and in such a way as to not reveal the whereabouts of the meal ahead of time.

When they were all gathered at the table, Jesus shocked Judas and the others by revealing that one of them would betray Him. Judas alone received word from Jesus that it was he who would betray Him. This sent Judas into a panic, and thus while the others celebrated the Passover (and the first communion service) with Jesus, Judas was collaborating with the Jewish leaders to bring about the arrest of Jesus. But it would still be at the time and place of our Lord’s choosing, as our next lesson will show.

Passover Fully Fufilled

Passover Fully Fufilled

Conclusion

My friend, reminded me of these words in Psalm 2:

1 Why do the nations cause a commotion?

Why are the countries devising plots that will fail?

2 The kings of the earth form a united front;

the rulers collaborate against the Lord and his chosen king.

3 They say, “Let’s tear off the shackles they’ve put on us!

Let’s free ourselves from their ropes!”

4 The one enthroned in heaven laughs in disgust;

the sovereign Master taunts them.

5 Then he angrily speaks to them

and terrifies them in his rage.

6 He says, “I myself have installed my king

on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalm 2:1-6).

How foolish of men – no matter how powerful to set themselves against the Lord God and His Anointed, Jesus Christ. Their schemes and opposition will come to nothing.

It was this very psalm that the early church cited when the same people who determined to kill the Lord Jesus in our text set out to oppose the apostles and the preaching of the gospel of the resurrected Christ. Peter and John were arrested and jailed after the healing of the lame man at the temple (Acts 3and 4). After being released, Peter and John went to the church to report what had happened. Here is the response of the church:

23 When they were released, Peter and John went to their fellow believers and reported everything the high priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices to God with one mind and said, “Master of all, you who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, 25 who said by the Holy Spirit through your servant David our forefather,

‘Why do the nations rage,

and the peoples plot foolish things?

26 The kings of the earth stood together,

and the rulers assembled together,

against the Lord and against his Christ.’

27 “For indeed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 28 to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. 29 And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage, 30 while you extend your hand to heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously (Acts 4:23-31).

What a joy for Christians to recognize that they serve the sovereign God of the universe, the Creator of heaven and earth. Let the mighty men of this world set themselves against Him. They will someday learn, as Paul did, that he was “kicking against the goads” (Acts 26:14). They will learn …

10 … that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

Even the great and powerful Nebuchadnezzar was brought to his knees before the sovereign God, acknowledging His sovereignty:

34 But at the end of the appointed time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven, and my sanity returned to me.

I extolled the Most High,

and I praised and glorified the one who lives forever.

For his authority is an everlasting authority,

and his kingdom extends from one generation to the next.

35 All the inhabitants of the earth are regarded as nothing.

He does as he wishes with the army of heaven

and with those who inhabit the earth.

No one slaps his hand

and says to him, ‘What have you done?’ (Daniel 4:34-35)

Matthew began our text by setting the Lord’s prophecy about His death during Passover in conflict with the Jewish leaders’ plan that Jesus would be arrested privately and killed later, after the feast. Jesus won! And so He will always.

Matthew gives his account without connecting all the dots. At first, we are tempted to think that this is just a sequence of interesting, but unrelated, events. But when studied after the death and resurrection of our Lord, and in the light of the other Gospels, we learn that each of these seemingly incidental accounts is a part of God’s marvelous plan. We now see that all the dots connect.

The story of our lives is not complete, and thus we may be tempted to see the various episodes and chapters of our lives as somewhat random or haphazard. Some events may even appear to be contrary to God’s purposes for our lives. The dots don’t seem to connect. But I assure you that there will be a day when we (if we are true believers in Jesus) will see that Romans 8:28 is true, and that the dots really do connect. We will see that God has carefully orchestrated the events of our lives to draw us near to Him, and to sanctify us to Himself. That is something that Joseph came to see, although not until he had suffered greatly (see Genesis 41:50-52; 50:20). I believe that it is something that every believer will see as well.

In Matthew, Judas is not granted the spotlight; it is our Lord, and also the woman (in this text), who makes the right choice to worship Him as worthy, bestowing on Him her finest gifts. To Judas (and even the foolish disciples), anointing the perfect body of our Lord with a precious fragrance was a criminal waste. Why is it that we hold back our finest gifts and possessions, thinking somehow that there is a better use for them than the worship of our Lord? Let us not be like Judas in this regard, seeking only gain from our Lord, and holding back our finest from Him.

Let me suggest another application of our text. We live in a day when even Evangelical Christians have bought into the feminist agenda. They demand that women be granted the same leadership roles and positions that are given to men. They feel somehow cheated and short-changed by God’s “restrictions” concerning leadership in the church (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:9-151 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:33b-38). In our text, who would you rather be, one of the disciples, or Mary, worshipping at the feet of Jesus? Who had the greater insight into our Lord’s words, and our Lord’s death? Who enjoyed greater intimacy with the Savior? Leadership does not make one more spiritual, nor does it necessarily grant one greater intimacy with our Lord. If our goal and desire is to know Christ, and to enjoy Him, then let us hasten to His feet, and not agonize about who is the greatest.

Finally, our text provides a wonderful example, both of the unity and the inspiration of Scripture. The Bible is a divinely inspired book, not merely a collection of writings. We cannot read any one passage or book in isolation; we must read the Bible as a whole. This is why Matthew can deliberately omit some incidents, or merely a detail. All the necessary details are there, but they need not all be found in any one book. It is only with the assistance of Mark, Luke, and John, that we gain a complete account of the life and death of our Lord. What a joy it is to study His Word, as an authoritative and sufficient revelation from God Himself.

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Filed under Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul Text, Studies in the Gospel of Matthew

Jesus Arrested, Mankind on Trial (Matthew 26:30-75)

Matthew 26:30-75

30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

31 Then Jesus said to them, “This night you will all fall away because of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 33 Peter said to him, “If they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away!” 34 Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, on this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you.” And all the disciples said the same thing.

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and became anguished and distressed. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray 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 this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done.” 43 He came again and found them sleeping; they could not keep their eyes open. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is approaching, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer is approaching!”

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 (Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him!”) 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and took hold of Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of those with Jesus grabbed his sword, drew it out, and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place! For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now? 54 How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?” 55 At that moment Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. 56 But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

57 Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered. 58 But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard. After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find anything, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Have you no answer? What is this that they are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Now you have heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your verdict?” They answered, “He is guilty and deserves death.” 67 Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy for us, you Christ! Who hit you?”

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A slave girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it in front of them all: “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” 71 When he went out to the gateway, another slave girl saw him and said to the people there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.” 72 He denied it again with an oath, “I do not know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there came up to Peter and said, “You really are one of them too—even your accent gives you away!” 74 At that he began to curse, and he swore with an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Introduction

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So wrote Charles Dickens in the first line of his book, The Tale of Two Cities. The book was about the time of the French Revolution. Thinking of our text in Matthew 26, I would title this message, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.” The arrest, trials, and crucifixion of our Lord are, without a doubt, the most horrible events in human history. And yet, for Christians, this was also the “best of times.” It is by our Lord’s arrest, trials, crucifixion, and resurrection that God provided a way of salvation for guilty sinners.

For most of us, the events of our text are familiar territory. Yet it is my conviction that it will take all of eternity to begin to comprehend all that took place here. Let us listen carefully to these words of Scripture, and let us consider the perfections of our Lord, and the pitiful condition of mankind, whom He came to save.

Reviewing the Context

Jesus has recently delivered the Olivet Discourse, in which He outlined the future course of history (Matthew 24-25). With this backdrop in mind, Jesus now outlines the course of the next few hours:

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he told his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified” (Matthew 26:1-2).

In short, Jesus will die in two days, during Passover, as the Passover Lamb. He will die by crucifixion. This divine plan is countered in our text by the plan of the top Jewish religious leaders of Jerusalem:

3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people met together in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. 4 They planned to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, so that there won’t be a riot among the people” (Matthew 26:3-5).

Their plan is to kill Jesus, but to do so in a way that is secretive and cunning, so that the crowds who have been following Jesus will not riot in protest. For them, this excluded crucifixion as an option, and it also meant waiting until after the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The divine plan, which requires Jesus to be crucified as the Passover Lamb, is in direct conflict with the devious plans of the Jewish leaders. Someone’s plans will have to give way, for they can’t both be fulfilled.

In verses 6-13, we find that Jesus has already been prepared for His burial (since this event took place four days earlier). The adoring worship of the woman who anointed Jesus with her precious ointment served as preparation for His death. As we learn from John’s Gospel, it also served to provoke Judas to betray His Master, for a mere 30 pieces of silver. The agreement Judas reached with the Jewish religious leaders is recorded in verses 14-16.

Verses 17-19 provide an account of how the Lord instructed His disciples to prepare for them to celebrate Passover together. This was surely the perfect occasion for Judas to betray His Lord. However, it is the other Gospel accounts that explain to us how our Lord arranged these Passover preparations in such a way as to prevent Judas from passing on to the Jewish leaders the location of this private gathering with His disciples.

Verses 20-25 describe a crucial event that enabled our Lord to overturn the plans of His adversaries, and to bring about His death at the right time (Passover), and in the correct manner (crucifixion), which He had already indicated. As they were seated at the table, Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him (Matthew 26:21). This led to an apparently private interchange between Jesus and Judas (either not overheard, or not understood, by the other disciples):

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself” (Matthew 26:25).

This must have sent Judas into a panic. Did the others hear this? Did they know that he was the betrayer? If Peter knew, he could be expected to end it for Judas on the spot, helped no doubt, by the two “sons of thunder,” James and John (see Mark 3:17). If these fellows wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan village (Luke 9:54), they would surely want to “dispatch” anyone who would betray Jesus and hand Him over to die. When Jesus gave Judas the opportunity to leave, he readily took it (John 13:27-30), although Matthew actually doesn’t record his exit. While Judas was making arrangements for handing Jesus over to the Jewish leaders, Jesus and His disciples continued with the Passover Meal.

It may be that the disciples were unaware of the Lord’s private interaction with Judas because they were too engaged in their own conversation, one they would rather Jesus not hear:

21 “But look, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man is to go just as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 So they began to question one another as to which of them it could possibly be who would do this. 24 A dispute also started among them over which of them was to be regarded as the greatest (Luke 22:21-24).

Luke’s account provides more information concerning the conversation of the other disciples, while Jesus seems to be speaking with Judas. The revelation that one of them would betray Him first brought about, “Surely not I, Lord?” (See Mark 14:19Luke 22:23) This deteriorated to questioning each other as to who it might be: “Could it be you?” Then, sadly, the conversation ended up in an argument over which of them was the greatest. The greatest among them, whoever that might be, would surely not do such a thing.

It is with this self-asserting group of men that our Lord chose to share this Passover. In verses 27-29, our Lord briefly conveys the meaning of His death as the Passover Lamb. His death and resurrection will inaugurate the New Covenant, by which guilty sinners will be forgiven, once for all. His sinless body will bear the punishment guilty sinners deserve, and thus His shed blood will provide eternal salvation. His death was not the end of their relationship, for He would once again share the cup with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom.

All of You Will Forsake Me

Matthew 26:30-35

30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “This night you will all fall away because of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 33 Peter said to him, “If they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away!” 34 Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, on this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you.” And all the disciples said the same thing.

I suspect that just as Jesus and His disciples were making their way to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, Judas was leading those who would arrest Jesus to the upper room, only to find the Master gone. Seeing they had missed this opportunity, they may have concluded that a bigger force was required. Something delayed the arrival of the arresting party, which gave our Lord the needed time with His disciples, and also for His prayer in Gethsemane.

While Jesus had prevented Judas from handing Him over during their private celebration of Passover, He now provides Judas with the perfect opportunity to betray Him by going to the Mount of Olives. This is where Judas would expect to find Jesus at this time of night:

So every day Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, but at night he went and stayed on the Mount of Olives (Luke 21:37).

Then Jesus went out and made his way, as he customarily did, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him (Luke 22:39).

1 When he had said these things, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley. There was an orchard there, and he and his disciples went into it. 2 (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, knew the place too, because Jesus had met there many times with his disciples.) (John 18:1-2)

It must have been as they were walking on their way to Gethsemane that Jesus broke the news to them that they would all fall away because of Him. One of them was a betrayer, and they were all pointing the finger at someone else, not only affirming their loyalty to Jesus, but even debating about their superiority to the others. They had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. Jesus shocked them all by informing them that every one of them would become a deserter this very night.

Jesus is not seeking to shame them, nor is He attempting to prevent this from happening. I believe He is telling them this as an encouragement. This must happen because the Scriptures (Zechariah 13:7, cited by our Lord verse 31) foretell it, and the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Furthermore, the desertion of the disciples will spare their lives, in fulfillment of Jesus’ words:

4 Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” 5 They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) 6 So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. 7 Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me” (John 18:4-9).

The disciples were to remain behind and carry on the work Jesus had begun and would continue through them. If they had remained with Jesus, they would have been executed as well. Finally, the disciples had to forsake Jesus because the work of Calvary was a work He must do alone. They could share in the benefits of Calvary, but they could not share in the work of Christ at Calvary. It was His work alone that provided salvation for lost sinners.

I have sometimes wondered why Matthew did not identify Peter as the one who would deny Him, even though we know that it is he of whom Matthew speaks. For example, in this chapter, Matthew will tell us that one of His disciples drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave. He names neither the slave (Malchus), nor Peter, although John names both (John 18:10-11).

I believe we have a hint as to how Matthew refers to Peter in verses 31-35 of Matthew 26. Peter did not speak these words alone; everyone affirmed his words as their own sentiment:

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you.” And all the disciples said the same thing (Matthew 26:35, emphasis mine).

Peter’s insistence that he would be loyal to his Lord was little different from that of his fellow disciples.

Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-46

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and became anguished and distressed. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray 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 this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done.” 43 He came again and found them sleeping; they could not keep their eyes open. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is approaching, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer is approaching!” (Matthew 26:36-46)

You will recall that all of the disciples had just recently assured Jesus that they would never forsake Him, but would be faithful even unto death (Matthew 26:35). The fact is, they couldn’t even stay awake with Jesus, even when it was His darkest hour yet. Jesus had already told them He would die at Passover. Now, He tells Peter, James, and John that His “soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death,” and urges them to stay awake with Him (verse 38). Going a little distance beyond the three our Lord threw Himself down to the ground and began to pray. His prayer was a simple expression of His grief, and of His submission to the Father’s will that He die. I wonder if the three overheard any of His groanings.

Jesus returned to find His faithful disciples (who had just insisted that they would die before forsaking Him) sound asleep. We should not be too harsh with them. In the first place, they were tired, and could not keep their eyes open (verse 43). Luke tells us that they were exhausted from grief (Luke 22:45). Jesus Himself said that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). They truly wanted to stay awake, and could not. I’ve seen it myself in church. I’ve even done it myself in church (while others were speaking, of course).

When Jesus went off to pray the second time, He urged His disciples to stay awake for their own benefit, praying that they “will not fall into temptation” (verse 41). They could not stay awake to pray for themselves, and they did fall into temptation. Jesus prayed the same prayer, only to return and find His disciples asleep once again (verse 43). This time, Jesus left them asleep, and returned to pray once again.

I find it somewhat interesting to note that while Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, and remained true to His calling, the disciples did not watch and pray, and thus Peter denied His Lord three times. I do not know for certain whether Matthew intends for us to make much of the same number (three) or not, but it does seem worthy of note.

The third time Jesus returned He awakened His disciples, informing them that the hour (of His betrayal and death) was approaching (verse 45). He summons His disciples to their feet, informing them that His betrayer is approaching (verse 46). The time has come.

What I see emphasized in this scene in Gethsemane is the frailty and failures of the disciples, as a backdrop to the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus. They assured Jesus that they would not forsake Him, but they couldn’t even stay awake with Him in His most difficult hour yet. Jesus assured them that He would die as the Passover Lamb, bringing about the New Covenant. He remained faithful to His calling, even when His disciples were weak and failing.

The Arrest

Matthew 26:47-56

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 (Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him!”) 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and took hold of Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of those with Jesus grabbed his sword, drew it out, and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place! For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now? 54 How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?” 55 At that moment Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. 56 But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled (Matthew 26:47-56).

Jesus was not “overtaken;” our Lord came from the garden (or orchard) to meet Judas and the multitude who accompanied him. Taking all the Gospels into account, we see that a very large group – a multitude – had come out to arrest Him. This group included Judas, the high priest and his servants, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the Jews, the temple police, and a cohort of Roman soldiers. These folks came prepared for the worst. Not only were they armed with swords and clubs (verse 47), they also had lanterns and torches. They seemed to expect Jesus to resist arrest, and they were ready for it, or so they thought.

4 Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” 5 They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) 6 So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. 7 Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me” (John 18:4-9, emphasis mine).

John’s account makes it clear that Jesus is still in control. He went out to meet those who sought Him. He asked who they were looking for. When they told Him they were seeking Jesus, He responded, “I am.” Now it is likely that they understood this to mean, “I am He; I am the one you seek.” But it is difficult for the reader not to understand this response in the light of John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14:

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am!” (John 8:58)

Those who came so prepared to overpower Jesus find themselves backing away from His presence, and falling all over themselves. They are so disarmed by this confrontation of Jesus that they let Jesus’ disciples walk (run?) away, untouched. In this way, Jesus fulfills His promise to keep them (John 18:9).

Matthew provides a somewhat more abridged account. A large crowd arrives at the garden (or orchard), and Judas steps forward to kiss Jesus. This is the sign he had prearranged with the soldiers so that they would know who it was they were to arrest. How ironic that Judas would choose a kiss, a token of love and affection, to identify Jesus. Remarkably, Jesus finds it possible to refer to Judas as “friend” (verse 50). No words of malice or even rebuke are spoken to Judas here, something that may have later haunted Judas. As the soldiers stepped forward to arrest Jesus, “one of the disciples” (we all know it is Peter, thanks to John 18:10) pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus (again, we have his name thanks to John), the slave of the high priest. It is clear from Luke’s account that some of the other disciples were thinking the same thing:

When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?” (Luke 22:49)

Peter was already taking action, which comes as no surprise to the reader. Jesus rebuked His over-zealous, sword-swinging, disciple. Peter’s response was wrong for several reasons. First, he was wrong because violence begets violence. “All who take hold of the sword will die by the sword” (verse 52). The kingdom of God will not be achieved by the use of force or violence. The disciples were to “take up their cross” and not their swords. Secondly, Peter’s hasty use of the sword betrayed a lack of faith in the Messiah’s ability to defend Himself, and in God’s ability to come to His defense, should He wish to do so. At any point in time, Jesus could have called upon the host of heaven at His disposal and annihilated His enemies. This was indeed the challenge put to Jesus while on the cross:

41 In the same way even the chief priests—together with the experts in the law and elders—were mocking him: 42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the king of Israel! If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him! 43 He trusts in God—let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!” (Matthew 27:41-43)

The wonder of wonders is that Jesus chose to remain on that cross, to die for those who hated Him.

Thirdly, Jesus must be arrested, tried, and executed in this manner because the Scriptures must be fulfilled (verse 54). Jesus had indicated earlier that He must be arrested, persecuted, and crucified. He was to be opposed by unbelieving Jews, and also by Gentiles. Peter and the disciples saw what was coming and reached for their swords. Jesus knew everything that was about to happen to Him (John 18:4), but since this is what God had purposed to take place, Jesus would not allow any of the disciples to defend Him by force. It must happen this way.

After rebuking His disciples for attempting to defend Him by force, Jesus then turned to those who had come to arrest Him. Why were they seeking to take Him by force? What was the need for this great “posse” (to use a term from the old Western movies – a large party of folks authorized to assist in the arrest of Jesus)? Why did they have to arrest Him at night? Jesus had not been in hiding, as if He were a wanted felon. He had publicly taught in the temple. He was never more accessible for arrest than during the previous week. If the disciples’ (threatened) use of force revealed some wrong thinking, so did the show of force by those who came to arrest Jesus in the garden.

Let us leave these verses by taking note that Peter surely was willing to die for His Lord, just as he had claimed earlier. No one would start swinging his sword against an armed force this large without expecting to die (or at least expecting our Lord to intervene with some “heavenly firepower”). Our Lord was indicating to Peter and the rest that if He needed heaven’s intervention, He could do so without His disciples precipitating violence.

Jesus’ Great Confession; Peter’s Great Denial

Matthew 26:57-68

57 Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered. 58 But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard. After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find anything, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Have you no answer? What is this that they are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Now you have heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your verdict?” They answered, “He is guilty and deserves death.” 67 Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy for us, you Christ! Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:57-68)

Two events are being described simultaneously by Matthew in this paragraph and the next, so as to set them in contrast to each other. The first is our Lord’s interrogation by Caiaphas, the high priest, and the Sanhedrin. The second is Peter’s “interrogation” by those around him. At the very moments Peter is denying His Lord, our Lord Jesus is affirming His identity as the Messiah – His “great confession.”

It is the middle of the night, and Jesus has been sent from Annas to stand before Caiaphas. The whole Sanhedrin is present (see also Mark 14:55), including the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Matthew 26:57-59). This is far from a legal gathering. In our terms, Jesus is not getting “due process of the law” here. These “judges” are far from neutral. They seek any testimony that will justify their resolve to kill Jesus (verse 59), but they can’t do it.

These are horrible and shameful moments in Israel’s history, but at times the account comes close to being amusing. Here is this pompous group of Israel’s “cream of the crop.” It is something like the convening of the Supreme Court in our day. These are the top religious and legal experts, and they are determined to execute Jesus. They resolved that they would not arrest or kill Jesus until “after the feast” (Matthew 26:5), but Jesus forced their hand when He informed Judas and the disciples that He would be betrayed by one of them (Matthew 26:21). Jesus even let Judas know that he was the one who would betray Him (Matthew 26:25). Judas no longer had the luxury of time. He had to act now to earn his fee, whether the Jewish leaders liked it or not.

The religious leaders were in a real bind. They seem compelled to include the Romans (Pilate, Herod, and the Roman soldiers). They were forced to crucify Jesus, a very public death. And they must complete this matter before Passover, lest they be defiled, and thus would have been prevented from participating in Passover (see John 18:28; 19:14Mark 15:42-43). A few hours earlier, it would have appeared that they had almost two weeks to prepare for the execution of Jesus. They have not had any time to acquire and “coach” witnesses, and this was very obvious. Imagine these fellows attempting to give an air of sobriety and propriety, while things are in total chaos. Their witnesses disagree so badly that even with their disposition to accept any charge, it is evident this testimony won’t suffice. A parade of witnesses pass by, and all fail to meet minimum requirements. No two witnesses agree, and when two finally agree, the charges were not viable. It was, at best, a corruption of what Jesus had said (“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” – John 2:19). Even if their words were true, it isn’t a crime to say that you are able to do such a thing; it would be a crime if you attempted it. This case would have been thrown out of any court in our land.

You can imagine how frustrated these fellows must have been. Their case was stalling, and there seemed to be nothing they could do about it. The high priest sought to induce Jesus to violate His Fifth Amendment rights (in today’s terms) by giving testimony against Himself. “What did Jesus have to say to this charge?” Jesus had nothing to say. He need not have spoken. The charges were not worthy of comment or of defense. It was not His duty to provide them with evidence; it was their duty to produce evidence of a crime.

Then the high priest had an inspiration. He would charge Jesus under oath to answer this question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” (Matthew 26:63). This was a question Jesus was not legally obliged to answer. And yet Jesus chose to answer. I used to think that this was because the high priest put Him under oath. I now look at it differently. This was a question Jesus must answer. To refuse to answer would imply that He was not the Messiah, the Son of God. If He were the Messiah, the Son of God, then why would He not answer to this effect? This was the crux of the coming of our Lord – to reveal Himself as the Messiah, and as the Son of God.

Our Lord’s answer was far from tentative. Not only did He identify Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God, He also referred to Himself as the Son of Man:

Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:67).

This is an incredibly powerful statement. Jesus affirms His identity. He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man, which means that He will return to the earth in power, to deal with His enemies and to establish justice.

These words, if believed, should have struck terror into the hearts of the Jewish religious leaders. Instead, they were taken as blasphemy, a capital offense by Jewish law (see Leviticus 24:10-16Numbers 15:30). No one in that group paused to reflect on the implications of Jesus’ claim. No one gave serious thought as to whether this claim might be true. In their minds, this was all they needed to condemn Jesus to death. And so the high priest musters all the righteous indignation he can produce, and calls for the death of Jesus:

Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Now you have heard the blasphemy!” (Matthew 26:65)

His colleagues heartily agreed, and they pronounced sentence on our Lord.

What follows is particularly significant. Once the guilty verdict is pronounced, there is a disproportionate outpouring of wrath and contempt on our Lord. They spit in His face – they spit in God’s face! They strike Him with their fists, pouring out their wrath on God incarnate. They slap Him, and challenge Him to prophesy who hit Him (26:67-68). Here is the highest court in the land, and look at its conduct. Here is God, in the hands of angry sinners.

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A slave girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it in front of them all: “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” 71 When he went out to the gateway, another slave girl saw him and said to the people there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.” 72 He denied it again with an oath, “I do not know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there came up to Peter and said, “You really are one of them too—even your accent gives you away!” 74 At that he began to curse, and he swore with an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75).

Meanwhile, Peter is sitting in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, warming himself by the fire. A mere slave girl identifies him as one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies it. Initially, Peter does not pointedly deny knowing Jesus; he simply responds that he doesn’t know what she is talking about. Apparently this is sufficient to silence this first slave girl. But then another slave girl confronts Peter. She does not just question Peter; she speaks to those standing around: “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene” (Matthew 26:71). From Peter’s point of view, this is much more threatening. He denies his association with Jesus, underscoring his denial with an oath. Finally, a third person – one standing nearby – came up to Peter, and this time with an even more persuasive accusation: “You really are one of them too—even your accent gives you away!” (verse 73). Peter more pointedly denied even knowing Jesus, let alone associating with Him. This time he felt it necessary to punctuate his denial with cursing.

At that moment, a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered Jesus’ words indicating that he would deny Him. Peter went outside and wept bitterly. Strangely, this is the last time Matthew refers to Peter by name in this Gospel. While Matthew does provide an account of the final outcome for Judas (Matthew 27:3-10), he does not do so for Peter. Is this because he knows that such an account will take a great deal more time and information? Is this because he knows that a subsequent history of the church (including Peter) will be written? For whatever reason, Matthew does not feel compelled to give us the “rest of the story” regarding Peter.

Conclusion

If our text demonstrates anything, it is that all mankind, without exception, is desperately sinful and, apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus, hopelessly lost:

“There is no one righteous, not even one,

11 there is no one who understands,

there is no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away,

together they have become worthless;

there is no one who shows kindness,

not even one” (Romans 3:10b-12).

Whether at his finest, or at his worst, every human being is a sinner, desperately wicked in heart and often in deed. There is no way that we can ever earn our own righteousness, that we can attain God’s favor by our efforts. We need salvation from some source outside of ourselves. We need Jesus, for He alone can save.

Our text dramatically demonstrates the sinfulness of man and the perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our text, no one comes out looking good, no one except Jesus, that is. Everything Jesus predicted happened just as He said it would. Under more stress and pressure than we will ever know, Jesus never failed. His words and His deeds are amazing to us. Though men (like Peter, or Judas, or the religious leaders) failed, Jesus did not. Though His closest friends forsook Him, He will not forsake His own – those who have trusted in Him for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Jesus Never Fails; He is always faithful, even when we fail:

Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end (John 13:1).

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).

In mankind’s darkest hour, the perfections of our Lord shine ever so bright. He alone is worthy of our trust, and of our worship, obedience, and service. Do not let the horrors of these events in our Lord’s last hours distract your attention from Jesus. He deserves center stage. His perfections deserve our praise.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

We should probably say a word about Peter’s denials. Let us not fail to read this text, describing Peter’s worst moments, without bearing in mind “the rest of the story.” We may have seen the last of Peter (by name) in Matthew, but we find a very different Peter in the Book of Acts. With the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we find a transformed Peter. We find a man who now boldly proclaims the gospel, in spite of the opposition and the risks:

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today for a good deed done to a sick man—by what means this man was healed— 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” 13 When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus. 14 And because they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say against this (Acts 4:8-14).

As a result of the work of Jesus Christ at Calvary, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, Peter not only boldly identifies with His Lord, He instructs us to do so as well:

13 For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil (1 Peter 3:13-17).

The events of our text underscore for us the trustworthiness and authority of the Scriptures. Just as at the birth of our Lord, so also here we find that Matthew repeatedly points out to us that the Scriptures are being fulfilled at every point of this procession to the cross. God’s Word is true. It never fails. Even when men try their hardest to resist God and to rebel against His purposes, they end up unwittingly fulfilling His purposes and promises. We can trust His Word.

Let me end with one more observation and application. Our text describes the darkest hour in all of human history, and yet we gather every Sunday to remember the death of Jesus. More than that, we come every Sunday to celebrate His death. This is due to the fact that His suffering and His death is the only means by which sinful men may be saved, and have eternal life. It is also due to the fact that the resurrection of Jesus enables us to view these events in a whole new way. At the cross, Jesus took the curse (death) and made it the cure (His atoning work on our behalf). God used the most cruel and wicked actions of men to accomplish His eternal plan of salvation.

Surely this is an example of the truth that is proclaimed in Romans 8:

28 And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, 29 because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8:28-30).

God was able to make the horrid events of our Lord’s rejection and crucifixion into a salvation so blessed that it will take all eternity to fathom it. If our Lord can transform this kind of apparent tragedy into a triumphant work of redemption, then is it not reasonable for us to believe that God will cause every event in our lives to work out for His glory, and for our good?

Now if you have not found Salvation click this link to find out more!

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Here are a few Amazing Statistics for https://whatshotn.wordpress.com/ :

There has been 728 Posts thus far (Not including Pages) and growing! 813 amazing people are following this Website so far, over 35,000 people from all walks of life and almost every corner of the earth have visited thus far, and have read over 45,000 views in only a little over a year! And have left 777 comments, What a wonderful way this has been to spread the Gospel to the four corners of the earth, God has used me as a conduit and this website as a vehicle to spread His love around the world! And so far it has completely been a labor of love, By the Grace and Mercy of God and to Him deserves ALL the Glory! Amen!

Here are a few comments that I have received from amazing people, I do appreciate them and every so often will update this post! So if you would like your comments to make this page, Please keep them coming!

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I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more
of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

Comment: God never instituted any religion, and i dnt think that a loving God will destroy the most precious of his creation simply becus he belongs to one religion or the orther, its we humans that formed religion simply becus of our emotion, pride and ego, the way some religion describe God is the pure description of a dictator who does not care about others but just himself

Comment: Thank you very much for this inspirational and encouraging message,which reminds us the characteristic of a soldier for Christ. However,I find this in the Prophet Joel’s book chapter 2:2-11,where Joel is talking about the end time army of God.
These are the kind of messages we need in this hour of great temptations,to keep us afloat and moving on.
Thank you and May God increase His anointing upon your life forever and ever in Jesus name. Philippians 1:9

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Comments : good work that you are doing please keep it up amen.can you visit our community with your team?

Comment: Great Bible study it touched me.God bless you and the listener Amen.

Comment: You are clearly a man dedicated to learning about our Creator, and His Revelation. I therefore offer you a field of knowledge that you may not be aware of, or might easily dismiss — just as most learned rabbis dismiss your work.

You ask for contribution to “foward” your work. You probably mean FORWARD. I add this to shock you into considering that you may not be infallible. Among errors are the Paleo-Hebrew you use. Do you really think that curved letters (from ink + pen) came BEFORE the straight Torah letters (for caring in wood)?

Comment: Praise our Lord Jesus,I’ve been so much inspired by your insight and spiritual value on this story of Noah and the Ark,along the way you brought up the issue of Enoch,I’ve never had the opportunity to come across any writtings about Enoch except what I’ve read from the Bible, which brings me to my point there is a lot of myth and heresies about the story of Enoch with my little understanding,I believe the Mystrey of creation is seen when we encounter a coversation btwn GOD and Moses His servant Exodus 33:12-19 and onwards we see GOD showing His servant His Glory by allowing moses to see his back(past) and I have this strong believe Moses was given a clear picture of Enoch and his life on earth so where is the conflict whenever this subject abounds? Enlighten please.

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Comment: Thanks for well-researched works

Comment: I like you, always was tempted to skip over genealogies, after all, how is it relevant now, and who on earth can pronounce half the names! Then it became clear to me as I read it with my eyes opened by the Holy Spirit. First, to the Jews, it was intended to prove to them that Jesus fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament, that the Messiah would come down thru, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, David, etc. Then to the “gentiles’ and Jews, that in the most unlikely ways, and through the some of the last people we would have chosen, if it had been our choice, ex., a female, non-Jew, only one mentioned in the genealogy, despite what man may or may not do, God’s sovereignty, and majesty will prevail and His will, will be done. And that He came for ALL mankind.

Comment: Timely, Prophetic, Powerful, Effective and Restraining.
Calvary Greetings!

Comment: Reminding and inspirational to me.
All Glory to GOD!!!!!!!

Comment: But what about women committing adultery? All we hear about is how men do it and what the bible says about that. But a lot of women do it to.

Comment: Amen!!!

Comment: Hallelujah! Glory to God! We as witnesses of Jesus share the word of God no matter! Thank you for sharing with me in Jesus name Amen.

Comment: May GOD continue to enlighten, empower, and bless us, and through HIS Word and SPIRIT, in JESUS’ Name… Amen!!!
Love & Cares!

Comment: I have been a Christian for many decades.
I have a number of questions about this article. Not by the content but for what audience. Believers or non-believers.
As a believer you you befuddled me with too much theology and Christian terminology.
If I have confusion, what about a non-believer understanding your message

Comment: it was an expository and bless teaching keep it up

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Comment: Looking for information to teach the Sunday school lesson on June 1st 2014 this site was very helpful in giving an image to help me understand how important this lesson is and to convey the message to the class. Thank You!!!

Many Thanks to You my Avid Readers all over the World!

Many Thanks to You my Avid Readers all over the World!

Comment: AWESOME!!!!!!!We keep watching and waiting with the hope its in our lifetime!!PRAISE GOD AND JESUS TO COME

Comment: Very good Bill, a much needed read, while it is not important for a person to believe our stance on Pre-trib rapture…it is important to know Jesus told us we would not experience Gods wrath

Comment: This is a wonderful job, I shall be glad to have it

Comment: I happy there are other positive things I can read and learn about I really enjoy learning about Gods word.

Comment: Please more info /history of bible

Comment: It is good reading. Any book I can get my hands on. Is new knowledge of the Bible

Comment: That’s an excellent compilation – thank you. Jesus is in the Bible from the get-go; even Adam was a type of Christ. He was not deceived (1 Tim. 2:4), therefore he knew what he was doing when he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He knew it would separate him from God, yet he chose to identify and be with his bride and endure that separation.

Comment: Is it possible to get copies of your books of enoch? I am seriously interested in reading them
Thank you so very much and GOD bless you always

Comment: it will help me….good
pray for my good study

Comment: Ahostorical non-denominationalism is a hippies dream. A dream of indifference and promiscuity. Wanting Christ as superstar of a postmodern orgy.

Comment: This is one of my favorite Bible stories. There are emotional/relational issues everywhere and God is in the midst of them.
I like how you laid out God’s participation in His own plan for Joseph’s and his family’s future.

Comment: I need help. I need prayer and protection for me and my family. Keeping us united..and away from harm..

Comment: wish to go on mission

Comment: We wil go by step to step until we see him face to face,for He is holy.hear our praise and bless our land oh lord God almighty!

Comment: Is good to worship tho Lord, by the way, who even knows himself for the first time?

Comment: It amazing what you can read from untold scriptures or prophets of the lord. History and untold secrets need to be taught to humankind.

Comment: The Message of Christmas is more important than the date. We have a message to deliver to the world that Jesus the son of God is the Saviour of the world who saves the world from its sin.

Comment: Cry loud and spare not! The devil is looking to make a sweep of the younger generation right into hell. You have to be so sold out for God that you will be willing to get up and leave any ministry that is participating in false doctrines and all their paraphenalia ! Wake up church!

Church leaders are accountable for what they bring before God’s people. Somebody start shouting loud at the leaders! This is no joke! Parents! Grab your family out of these places that feast on enemy food! Don’t trust the pastors and leaders that are drinking the koolaid from hell to guide you or your family down the right road. Act now or watch your loved ones slip into hell!

Comment: Can I get this copy through the email I want to print it for other christians.i will serve no foreign God I better die

Comment: It is a shocking news to me.wish to now more about the end of the world.

Comment: I am called and I wish I could reach the whole within shortest time with the gospel.

Comment: oh my GOD HEAR ME,FORGIVE ME, I PRAY YOU WILL DELIVER PEOPLE FROM SATAN,HELP ME TO BR WISE,KEEPING U INSIGHT,KEEP MY FAMILY SAFE FROM THIS SIN. IN THE NAME OF JESUS.

Comment: Good comments! God leaving nothing to chance gave us the Person of Christ Jesus to be the “system” of wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30) that offers the Divine Philosophy we must have to guide our daily lives, developing Godly motivation, purpose and direction in our walk with Him. I checked to follow you. Thanks.

Comment: GREAT THING TO KNOW AL TRUTH FROM BIBLE YOUR RESEARCH ,GOD BLESS YOU.

Comment: Excellent Explanation!!! Thank you so Much!! Very informative!! Helped me so much to understand this Better!!

Comment: This is the Truth, I went before the Throne of God not understanding how wrong I was, I have always Loved the Truth, didn’t walk in it, I Believe God Has Blotted my Name from the Lambs book of Life, what followed was very delusional, and Now I have evil voices telling me I am going to Hell, I am truly repenting, my Heart feels so Condemned, I know Jesus is coming soon, I am now suffering from anxiety and Condemnation, it truly is torture, and I truly understand how wrong I was in my thinking, I am praying that Jesus will forgive me, my Heart is in agony knowing how I did pleased God, I had no idea really, I knew I was a sinner, was very I’ll prior to this, I know there is so many Christians out there that does not truly understand The Truth, this really hits home for me, and I pray for all those that are not truly living by the Truth that they will turn from there ways before its to Late , I have been suffer ring for over a year, and so praying that God will give me another chance, and that my seed will not be punished for my actions,,Please pray for me and my seed, That God will forgive me and for the Salvation of my seed, that they would be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, I feel in my Heart I am going to Hell for my walk with the Lord, I am praying and repenting, and seeking the Truth Praying that God will reinstate my name, Thank you for your post and God Bless you….

Comment: Nice one,but I have a question.Will this mark be given after the rapture or before the rapture.Thanks.

Comment: God Bless you too! I really enjoyed this very informative & light-hearted read! It reminds us to have compassion & patience with ourselves as well as others in the LOVE of Christ.

Comment: Thanks for a wonderful and insightful article. Blessings to you and yours.

Comment: thanks alot for this gift you shear with on the face book , may God always bless you in his noble and devined ways in Jesus name.

Comment: Thanks brother, yes true the word of God Holy Spirit have the gifts to give to His children

Please more Questions and read for more Answers!

Please more Questions and read for more Answers!

Comment: Servant of God,i surely agree with you in this teaching.God bless you and fill you with more of His wisdom that His saints may recieve more revelations of His word through you.
Many people stick only to speaking in tongues as the only proof of one having being filled with the Holy spirit.But they forget that the Bible is speaking about ”The Fruits of The Holy Spirit”and not ”The Fruit of the Holy Spirit”Fruits are many, but fruit is ONLY ‘ONE’.Here the bible is very clear.Thankyou and God bless you so much.

Comment: Thanks for the write up. Please put me in your list for onward posting.

Comment: I enjoied the sermon and I want to learn more please.

Comment: Very useful learning remain blessed

Comment: Thank you Man of God, your message has touch my heart and I ill never forget this message in my life.
And as I said it take’s those who ‘re deep in the Spirit to get it.
Bless you Sir.

Comment: AWESOME!!!! VERY GOOD TEACHING. GOD INSTRUCTED ME TO STUDY THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL THIS YEAR. THIS TEACHING HAS PROPELLED ME INTO MY STUDIES LIKE NEVER BEFORE. THANK YOU MINISTER DEDUAL

Well there you have it! The good and the bad, The prayer requests and the blessings, The questions and the sharing for others, The requests for more Knowledge and the willingness to do more! I didn’t hold anything back, Thank you so much for all your feedback I really do appreciate all of them! God Bless you! Bill DeDual


			

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2 Corinthians 10-13

2 Corinthians 10-13

2 Corinthians 10

10:1-18 Paul speaks of his spiritual authority

1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence [am] base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: 2 But I beseech [you], that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he [is] Christ’s, even so [are] we Christ’s. 8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: 9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. 10 For [his] letters, say they, [are] weighty and powerful; but [his] bodily presence [is] weak, and [his] speech contemptible. 11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such [will we be] also in deed when we are present.

12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 But we will not boast of things without [our] measure, but according to

We Pastors are not always popular, Paul noticed that

We Pastors are not always popular, Paul noticed that

the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. 14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond [our measure], as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in [preaching] the gospel of Christ: 15 Not boasting of things without [our] measure, [that is], of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, 16 To preach the gospel in the [regions] beyond you, [and] not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand. 17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. (2 Corinthians 10:1-18 AV)

2 Corinthians 11

11:1-15 Paul warns of false leaders

1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me. 2 For I am

Paul warns of false leaders

Paul warns of false leaders

jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].

5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 6 But though [I be] rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. 7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages [of them], to do you service. 9 And when I was present with you, and

Some Pastors have to raise their family on No pay (wages), Paul noticed this and it still happens today!

Some Pastors have to raise their family on No pay (wages), Paul noticed this and it still happens today!

wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all [things] I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and [so] will I keep [myself]. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God

for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light

for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light

knoweth. 12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. 13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

11:16-33 Paul’s suffering as an apostle

16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. 17 That which I speak, I speak [it] not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. 19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye [yourselves] are wise. 20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour [you], if a man take [of you], if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. 21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

22 Are they Hebrews? so [am] I. Are they Israelites? so [am] I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so [am] I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. (2 Corinthians 11:1-33 AV)

2 Corinthians 12

12:1-10 Paul’s thorn in the flesh

1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but [now] I forbear, lest any man should think of me

Paul's thorn in the flesh

Paul’s thorn in the flesh

above that which he seeth me [to be], or [that] he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

12:11-13 Paul demonstrates his apostleship

11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except [it be] that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

12:14-18 Paul plans a third visit

14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. 16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? 18 I desired Titus, and with [him] I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? [walked we] not in the same steps?

12:19-21 Paul seeks repentance from the Corinthians

19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but [we do] all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. 20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and [that] I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest [there be] debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21 [And] lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and [that] I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. (2 Corinthians 12:1-21 AV)

2 Corinthians 13

13:1-10 Paul speaks of his coming and warns of sin

1 This [is] the third [time] I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine

Paul speaks of his coming and warns of sin

Paul speaks of his coming and warns of sin

yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are

Greet one another with an holy kiss

Greet one another with an holy kiss

strong: and this also we wish, [even] your perfection. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

13:11-14 Conclusion and benediction

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. 12 Greet one another with an holy kiss. 13 All the saints salute you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, [be] with you all. Amen. <<[The second [epistle] to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, [a city] of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.]>> (2 Corinthians 13:1-14 AV)

This is the End of 2 Corinthians

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2 Corinthians 5-9

2 Corinthians 5-9

2 Corinthians 5

5:1-21 Ministers of reconciliation

1 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,

Before

Before

an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to

them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. 13 For whether we be beside ourselves, [it is] to God: or whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause. 14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And [that]

After!

After!

he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. 17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:1-21 AV)

2 Corinthians 6

6:1-10 Paul’s summary of the ministry

1 We then, [as] workers together [with him], beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all [things] approving ourselves as the ministers of

Paul's summary of the ministry

Paul’s summary of the ministry

God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and [yet] true; 9 As unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things.

6:11-18 Paul pleads for separation from unbelievers

11 O [ye] Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. 12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. 13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto [my] children,) be ye also enlarged. 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what

Paul pleads for separation from unbelievers

Paul pleads for separation from unbelievers

fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:1-18 AV)

2 Corinthians 7

7:1-16 Paul’s joy at the Corinthians’ repentance

1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. 3 I speak not [this] to condemn [you]: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with [you]. 4 Great [is] my boldness of speech toward you, great [is] my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without [were] fightings, within [were] fears. 6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though [it were] but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it

Paul's joy at the Corinthians' repentance

Paul’s joy at the Corinthians’ repentance

wrought in you, yea, [what] clearing of yourselves, yea, [what] indignation, yea, [what] fear, yea, [what] vehement desire, yea, [what] zeal, yea, [what] revenge! In all [things] ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, [I did it] not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you. 13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. 14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which [I made] before Titus, is found a truth. 15 And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. 16 I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all [things]. (2 Corinthians 7:1-16 AV)

2 Corinthians 8

8:1-24 The collection for the other Christians

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to [their] power, I bear record, yea, and beyond [their] power [they were] willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and [take upon us] the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And [this they did], not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every [thing, in] faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and [in] all diligence, and [in] your love to us, [see] that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 10 And herein I give [my] advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing [of it]; that as [there was] a readiness to will, so [there may be] a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, [it is] accepted according to that a man hath, [and] not according to that he hath not. 13 For [I mean] not that other

The collection for the other Christians

The collection for the other Christians

men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, [that] now at this time your abundance [may be a supply] for their want, that their abundance also may be [a supply] for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that [had gathered] much had nothing over; and he that [had gathered] little had no lack.

16 But thanks [be] to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. 18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise [is] in the gospel throughout all the churches; 19 And not [that] only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and [declaration of] your ready mind: 20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: 21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which [I have] in you. 23 Whether [any do enquire] of Titus, [he is] my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren [be enquired of, they are] the messengers of the churches, [and] the glory of Christ. 24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf. (2 Corinthians 8:1-24 AV)

2 Corinthians 9

9:1-15 God loves a cheerful giver

1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: 2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. 3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: 4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go

God loves a cheerful giver

God loves a cheerful giver

before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as [a matter of] bounty, and not as [of] covetousness.

6 But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men]; 14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:1-15 AV)

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