Matthew 26:1-16 - Jesus nears the cross
Our title this week is Jesus nears the cross, and in our reading, we are in the days leading to the day that Jesus is to be crucified. Only two days to go before Passover and therefore only three to go before Jesus is to be crucified on the cross.
So, what do we have in the first part of our reading is a pretty cool Jesus who knows he is to be handed over to the authorities to be crucified, just kicking back and talking about it like He was going to have a hair cut for the first time in ten years, something worth noting but nothing to worry about?
Jesus is trusting in Gods plan.
And then in verse 3 we have a pretty agitated bunch of chief priests and elders making there plans to have Jesus arrested and killed, but they are worried about the people’s reaction to Jesus arrest verse 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.
So, in those five verses we have the good and the bad, the good, Jesus trusting in God plan knowing he is doing the right thing and being pretty chilled out about, and the bad who are worried even scared of what the outcome might be of their plan. Can you relate to this do you get worried when you plan to do something that you know may not be right or that is defiantly wrong?
But feel a peace when what you are going to do is right no matter that it may cause problems but sure that it is the right thing to do. We know when we are doing wrong in the eyes of the only one who matters, displeasing our Lord and saviour no matter who we are upsets us and that is everyone, even the worst criminal, that is why they are always looking for something to make them happy, we can try to suppress it but it always comes out in some negative way and this applies to those know and love the Lord Jesus as well.
And this epically applies to forgiveness as Gemma-Louise was saying last week, if we are not being forgiving, we are not honouring God and we certainly will never see His joy and peace in our lives. And forgiveness starts in the heart, it does not have to be a two-way street, we can forgive someone and not expect or get back forgiveness, it is personal, if we hold on to unforgiveness then the only person hurt is us.
The person who forgives not expecting or wanting anything back is the person who is freed from the bondage of hate. Nobody ever gives a thought to how hatred can harm your inner self more than the other person. But it does. Hatred is directly related to your emotions, which ultimately influences the body and its functions. It can cause high blood pressure, sleepless nights, heart disease, and many more. The more you hate people, the more you are causing harm to yourself. While the other person is just not aware of what you are thinking and is at peace.
You can try to fool yourself into thinking life is fine you can smile and laugh as much as you want but you will miss out on the true peace of the Lord, and that unforgiveness will pollute our whole body and our lives and will consume us, I know I have watched it happen to people and have also been that person, and it will be the thing on that persons mind the most, if they hate someone they see often it will consume them every time they see that person, it will be at the front of their minds.
Do you want the peace that Jesus is showing in our reading, Jesus knows that the chief priests and elders hate Him, but he forgives them, Jesus does not want anything back? But He gets peace.
And our second thing is Forgiveness.
The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:32, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Then the focus changes and we read in verse 6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper,
Did you pick on that, Jesus was in the home of Simon the Leper, a Leper, there was nothing worse in that society than being a Leper. And it must have been something to see a leper heal, and still something more to sit and eat with a heal leaper, what happens if it comes back what happens if he can still give it to me, Jesus shows love to Simon not only by healing him but by sitting and eating with him and by doing so ensures that loads of others do the same,
God’s love showed by actions that count by being with someone when they are in need.
And we read in verse 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, [a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
The disciples reveal to us that the perfume used was expensive, but we do not know its exact cost. What makes the perfume so special and why is it so valuable? The perfume came for Northern India and was made of pure nard. Scholars reckon that the perfume cost about a two years wages for many people in this country today. Nard is made from a plant that grows in the Himalayas and is used as an ointment or perfume. The cost of the perfume was worth about 300 denarii, about £40,000 or so today. The disciples where not only shocked by the cost of the perfume she was using, but of the amount that she was using. This act of devotion was seen as waste to the disciples. If I was there, I am sure I would find it shocking as well.
It takes devotion and selflessness to do something like that. She probably did not think twice about using it. The money that she used to buy the perfume what was it for, to save that much money it must have been for something very important. She probably spent her life savings for it. This act shows her trust, devotion, and love that she had for Jesus. I think it would be difficult for people today to do something like that. In the world we live in today, the value or cost of something can often overshadow or distort an act. The Bible tells us to give 10% of our income to the God, it is easier to give 10% of a little than 10% of a larger amount.
In the prayer that we say over our offering we say all that we have comes from you Lord and we give back, do we, or do we just give back only a tiny little bit. This act by this woman shows generosity and generosity comes from love, the generosity that God shows us is repaid by this woman, how long would it have taken to save two years of wages. And she with that generosity had not witnessed yet what Jesus was going to do for her for you and for me, Jesus was going to give he’s life for us all, such generosity and what have we done to deserve that, nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Such was her generosity and Jesus generosity.
Then our reading changes again and we read in verse 14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So, they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
I have got to ask the question what is wrong with Judas, he has seen the miracles up close he has seen all that Jesus has done and yet it is not enough, he wants things to be how he thinks they should be, Judas at this time is worshiping the god of I.
I want it like this, I want it my way, I, I, I.
So far, we have looked at Trust, forgiveness and generosity.
Now what can we learn from Judas.
Now our hope in Jesus Christ our Lord and our God, is that even for people those whose lives seemed to all human appearances to be mired in sin, the Church holds out hope that they repented and accepted God’s mercy in the final moments of their lives.
Judas Iscariot stands as the lone example of a soul that — by all indications — seems to be in hell. Jesus said in a prayer to the Father in John 17:12 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
And speaking of the one who would betray Him, Jesus said, in Matthew 26:24, 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’.
Judas’ sin was a great one; betraying Jesus for what turned out to be 30 pieces of silver. Yet there is no sin that is stronger than God’s love. Christ prayed for the forgiveness of those who were nailing Him to the cross. The only sin that God cannot forgive is the sin of which we don’t repent. If we have no true remorse for our sins, then when you can say the prayer of confession, you will just be going through the motions. Repentance is essential. We must turn away (literally “change our minds”) about our sin.
But the story of Judas shows us that is not enough just to say the words or do an action.
The Bible tells us that Judas repented of his sin. And it didn’t save him.
In Matthew 27:3–4 it tells us ‘When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’
‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’
Then Judas ran off to hang himself.
Judas realized the evil of his actions. He “deeply regretted” his sin. He changed his mind. Now you may be thinking that this the very nature of repentance, to change our minds about our sin? Judas even attempts to make amends, by returning his ill-begotten gains the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests. He admits to them, “I have sinned.”
If Judas repented, why was he condemned? It is because repentance is only one part of the equation. It is not enough to simply repent; we must ask God for forgiveness. This is the one thing Judas did not do. Judas didn’t go to Christ. Instead, he runs to his co-conspirators, the chief priests and elders. He confesses to them, “I have sinned,” and they reply, coldly but accurately, “What is that to us?” They cannot help him; only God can forgive sins (Mk 2:7).
We don’t know why Judas did not run to Christ in his moment of regret. Perhaps he was ashamed — to ashamed to go to the one Person who could help him. What about us does our own shame keep us from doing the same? From turning to Jesus.
There is a lesson here for us. Feeling remorse for our sins is good and necessary. Turning away from them, and seeking to make amends, is good and necessary. Admitting our sinfulness and owning up to our actions is good and necessary. But if that’s as far as our repentance goes, we are no better off than Judas.
We have to take our sins to Christ. We have to do what Judas should have done, which is to carry the burden of our guilt to the cross of Jesus and lay it at the feet of Jesus; and then carry it no more. I find it useful when I have something like this to prayer about, to picture the cross of Jesus and I imagine myself praying at the cross and laying that thing at the foot of the cross. We have to confess our sins not to those who have no authority to forgive them they might say as the chief priest and elders did “What is that to us?” but to Jesus Christ, to God the Son, who has authority on earth to forgive sins, Jesus said in Luke 5:24, But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’
So, Judas teaches us that we need to be truly repentant.
So, in our reading we have
Jesus trusting in God’s plan.
We have that we are to forgive each other, just as God forgave us.
We have God’s love showed by actions.
We have generosity, of Jesus for us and also the question what should be our generosity to Jesus
And we have the need to be truly repentant.
Now hopefully we all understand that God loves us and that is why he wants as to do these things because it is good for our wellbeing it is good for our souls and it is what will get us to spending time with God the Farther, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son.
God loves each one of us what is our response to that love?