"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Monday, October 2, 2017

The GOSPEL of MATTHEW: Ch. 26 – Part 1 The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE

By James Fire

We all have hopes, dreams, even ambitions that we look to in our future; aspirations for greatness can be a tremendous motivator to ‘give it all we got’ in making our dream a reality.
When these apostles were just fishermen, tax collectors, carpenters and what not, the most they probably hoped for was a fairly prosperous life, being successful at their trade, blessed in their families and friends.

How surprised, shocked even, they must have been when this One, Jesus of Nazareth beckoned them to follow Him. Gradually they came to know Him as a man Who was unique above all others, with remarkable power, wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures; they recognized Him as prophet, but eventually, as the very Messiah of Israel.
From that point on, they realized that they had it made! These twelve were specifically chosen to be leaders in the Messianic Kingdom, the reborn Kingdom of Israel in accordance with the Davidic Covenant! This far exceeded their wildest expectations – but then came the events as we find here in MATTHEW Ch. 26. To say that their dreams and aspirations were crushed would be a horrendous understatement . . .



MATT 26:1-2
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

The LORD Jesus had just finished all of the parables that He illustrated in the previous chapter, and no sooner did He speak of these, that in His next breath He declares that He will crucified in a matter of days!! He spoke of being killed earlier in MATT 16:21, and when He was rebuked by Peter, He rebuked Satan who at that point was using His leading apostle as a mouth-piece, and told the disciples that if they intended on following Him, then they were to pick up their crosses (MATT 16:24).

The response here in Chapter 26 by the disciples is most conspicuous in its absence! They didn’t say a word! Were they thinking that He was still speaking in parables, perhaps? Or were they too afraid to ask what He meant by the statement?
It’s interesting that the religious leadership conspired to kill Jesus, but “not on the [Passover] feast day” (MATT 26:5) for fear of a riot by the people. Yet the LORD plainly stated that He would be crucified at that time – showing that He was in charge of the situation, not the religious establishment! Too many see Jesus as a martyr, dying for His cause – but no one martyred Jesus; He laid down His life of His own accord. No one took His life from Him (JOHN 10:18)!

MATT 26:3-5
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

What amount of subtlety could these men possibly hope to achieve in trapping God-In-The-Flesh?? Of course, they didn’t believe He was Who He said He was, but we who read this passage, and realize what they were up against are reminded of PSALM 2, aren’t we?

PSALM 2:1-3
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

The fulfillment of this passage is yet future, during the time of man’s highest rebellion, under the reign of the Beast (2 THESS 2:8; REV 19:19-20), but there is a certain applicability here as well. The most preposterous word we can ever use is “against” when it concerns our being against, as in a contest, the LORD and His Christ! This is the folly that the Beast will be guilty of, in leading the world’s armies against the Returning Messiah-King. It’s no less a folly for Caiaphas to lead these religious leaders in their endeavor to kill God Incarnate!

MATT 26:6-13
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

In JOHN 12 we read about how Judas criticized this woman, who as it turns out is none other than Mary, the sister of Larazus and Martha, for this “waste” – and other disciples, seeing the practical aspect of this act of love and devotion from a monetary point of view chimed in agreement. This was no mere ‘box of ointment (spikenard)’, but probably something Mary was saving up for a dowry. Its value was estimated in JOHN’s Gospel at “three hundred denarii” – or in today’s dollars, approximately several tens of thousands (about the cost of an Audi A8)! Lazarus’ household was a rather affluent one by all accounts and such a rare commodity, imported from far away India, was affordable but Mary, in an act of worship poured out this costly ointment upon the head (and the feet in JOHN’s account) of her LORD, and then wiped it with her hair.

The fragrance of this ointment filled the house, surrounding the LORD with its aroma, and Mary herself, scented of this exquisite substance. This was most certainly not a waste, for what act of devotion and worship of Jesus could be considered as such? This worship created an atmosphere of wonderful sweet-smelling savor to the LORD and it permeated the LORD’s person, and Mary and was witnessed by others – as is any act of Spirit-led worship! And this extreme of worshipful devotion has been proclaimed throughout the world from the pages of Scripture, read in a multitude of languages by an equal number of nations.

Such a thing could only be an offense to the unspiritual and undiscerning – as was Judas himself, who was a thief and would have put such an exorbitant amount of money to a far more self-interested use than to help the poor, but acquire it from his own sense of avarice (JOHN 12:4-6).

And once again, the LORD mentions His approaching death – for “she did it for [His] burial”; let’s pay attention to this: those who are intimate worshipers of the LORD are shown great and wondrous things: they know the LORD in ways far deeper and greater than those who follow Him “afar off” or not at all. Mary knew something, that prompted her to perform this deed!

MATT 26:14-16
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Why did Judas betray Jesus? There are a lot of possibilities – the obvious reason is, “it was prophesied” and to this we agree. It wasn’t that the prophecy coerced Judas into this heinous act, but that the Eternal Word Who knows all things saw this deed well before he committed it.
Some suggest that because Judas was quite likely, like Simon Zealotus, a member of the Zealots and when the ministry of Jesus didn’t go the way Judas thought it would: with war against the Gentile nations that oppressed the nation – as the Messiah was foretold to do according to Scripture – his allegiance no doubt changed. Of course, Judas, or any of His apostles really, just like the Sanhedrin, didn’t understand that His first and primary mission as to rescue Israel AND the Gentile nations from their sin (MATT 1:21; ACTS 10:34-35; ROM 3:29; 11:17-19) and the impending judgment of God!

Some think that Judas was trying to force Jesus to rise up and lead the charge against Rome; if He was arrested and brought before a Roman procurator who would, with enough pressure from the Sanhedrin, condemn Him to death, as Messiah, He would then fulfill His obligation to liberate Israel. But if that was in fact his intention, it ‘back-fired’ on him – but not according to the plan of God.

However it does say that Satan entered into Judas (LUKE 22:3) and certainly he had every intention of ruining Jesus – whether by disobeying the Father and going His own way by saving His own life, or by killing Him off via Judas, the Sanhedrin and Roman government by crucifixion.
What Judas didn’t realize, nor did the Sanhedrin, is that their agreed upon price of betrayal of the Messiah of Israel was also prophesied in Scripture:

ZECH 11:11-13
11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord.
12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

Not only did the prophecy in ZECHARIAH predict the price of betrayal, but also where the money would be cast down and where it would end up – from the house of the LORD (the Temple) to the potter (the potter’s field; see MATT 27:6-8). Incidentally, whenever a slave was slain in Hebrew society, the master of the slave was compensated by how many pieces of silver? You guessed it; thirty!

The servant of the LORD was slain, and the offered price speaks to the LORD’s dedicated will to obey the Father in all things (See ISAIAH 42; MATT 26:39).

MATT 26:17-23
17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

The LORD apparently had pre-arranged the place where He and His disciples would share in the Passover with “such a man” whose house would be blessed by the presence of the LORD.
While we may wonder where provisions will come into our lives, the LORD has ‘pre-arranged’ everything, inspecting and supervising with His eternal eyes all that we will ever encounter, every and all needs, struggles, heartaches and opportunities and matches perfectly His perfect supply, according to His riches in grace and mercy (EPH 1:7; 3:16; PHIL 4:19).

The Passover of course is all about the deliverance from Egypt, where God liberated His people Israel from bondage, and with tremendous signs and wonders (10 of them, which demonstrated His supremacy over the gods of Egypt) led them from that place where pagan idols (with demonic powers behind them) were worshiped. 

Likewise, the LORD Jesus, Who is our Passover (1 COR 5:7) delivered us from ‘the angel of death’ that passed through Egypt – a type of the judgment to come upon all the world that rejects the Gospel – and were “saved by the blood”: just as those in Egypt that applied the blood to the door posts and lintels, likewise we are saved by Christ crucified, whose blood was shed for the remission of our sins (ACTS 2:38; 10:43; ROM 3:25).

Yet here in this house, the LORD and His disciples are about to partake of the Passover meal and He tells them that one of them will betray Him! What a bomb shell to drop on the ones that express such love and devotion! And they all asked, “LORD, is it I?” It is a humble heart that would ask such a question, not supposing that such a thing could never be true (of oneself). Yet, it’s interesting that Judas didn’t ask the same question . . . exactly:
Master, is it I?” Note that; not LORD, but merely “master” or teacher. That is a very telling remark I think (Consider 1 COR 12:3). The LORD in His foreknowledge knew who it was that would betray Him; and He even gave His disciples a clue: the one that would dip (the bread) into the sop, the same would betray Him.

The LORD Jesus however made that betrayer an apostle; Judas was loved by Jesus, no less than any of His other followers. How would we respond if we knew in advance someone that we love, who would betray us, and to such a level of treachery as Judas displayed in his betrayal of the LORD? This is a testament to the unconditional love and grace of God the Son; He loved His enemies (MATT 5:44; COL 1:21). Judas could have received forgiveness from the LORD had he repented after a godly sort; he did not however, but he sorrowed with an ungodly, worldly sort (and hung himself):

2 COR 7:10
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death
.

May we the children of God hold fast the blessed promise of:

1 JOHN 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Let us continue examining these last remaining verse of Part One of this study;

MATT 26:24-25
24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

Here the LORD point-blank identifies the betrayer – but none of the other disciples react, which to me suggests this was a quiet, one-on-one conversation between LORD and false-disciple. The whole view of predestination and free-will are here displayed:

It was Judas who of his own volition, decided to go to the Sanhedrin and promise to turn Jesus in to them; yet the Scripture clearly states – “. . . it is written of him . . .” Again, God in His foreknowledge, Who knows all things, understood what Judas would choose to do, and in His sovereignty used that choice to accomplish what He intended all along. Pilate in just a little while, when the LORD is brought before Him, says,

JOHN 19:10
10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

To which the LORD responds:

JOHN 19:11
11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin
.

I believe He was speaking of Judas, whom He previously referred to as “the son of perdition” (JOHN 17:12). There are some that equate the verses of 2 THESS 2:3 and REV 17:10-11 with this phrase of ‘son of perdition’ and conclude that Judas Iscariot will be the Beast of Revelation. This notion, in my mind is rather outlandish, and holds a very flimsy argument. It’s been said that ‘the simplest explanation is often the correct one” and I think this holds true here.

The “son of perdition” used in both verses of JOHN 17:12 and 2 THESS 2:3 is a literary device to denote the “son” as being identified with its source, so that the one is very much the same as the other. The same device is used of the LORD when He talks about the scribes and Pharisees being “the child of hell”.

Perdition in the Greek is apolea, meaning, “ruin, loss (physically or spiritually), destruction, waste, damnable, to die, perish, pernicious, the loss of well-being “son of perdition” signifies the proper destiny of the person mentioned.” That could certainly be applied of Judas as well as and even more so of the Beast (and frankly any and all who reject Christ), without these two being the one and the same individual.

MATT 26:26-29
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

How many Passover meals did these men share together during their time together? The ministry of Jesus is typically thought to be about three and a half years, so they could have celebrated a few of these together. However, something is different on this occasion. What Jesus says this time is that the bread “is [His] body” and that the wine “is [His] blood” – what could He possibly mean?

Were the doctrine of transubstantiation as taught in the doctrine of Roman Catholicism true, then the disciples would be guilty of cannibalism, something against the Old Testament teaching. The LORD in His humanity was a Jew, not only a Law-abiding Jew, but one Who fulfilled the Law perfectly: He would never endorse the consumption of His own flesh!

So, what did the LORD mean by this statement? He explains Himself in

JOHN 6:53-63
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Just as bread and wine were staples that sustained life in biblical days, so likewise the spiritual aspect of the blood of Christ, and the spiritual aspect of His flesh (the life is in the blood; LEV 17:11) brought spiritual life to all who ‘consume’ Christ in exactly the same kind of spiritual aspect (the flesh itself profits nothing at all (vs. 63). When one is born again, Christ indwells the repentant sinner, transformed into saint, and this is what the LORD was referring to, and in this manner, there is communion and fellowship between the LORD and His beloved (vs. 56-57). And He will raise them up in resurrection power! This is the life which is eternal (vs. 57).

MATT 26:30-35
30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Here we read of Peter’s boast – and we who have read this before, wince, knowing what’s going to happen. The LORD plainly told them that they will all be offended because of Him, quoting the prophecy (ZECH 13:7), but Peter denies the assertion and when the LORD confirms the future event as a certainty, Peter is all the more emphatic, and the other disciples chime in as well.
However, we know where this leads, and the utter tragedy of Peter’s denial of the LORD; this should encourage us to know, that the LORD knows us through and through, and yet as His children, He loves us wholly, faithfully and eternally.

On our worst day, He understood before He ever said, “Let there be light” (GEN 1:3) what deeds we would commit; what words we would utter; what thoughts we would think; and yet for all of that, He still chose us from before the foundation of the Earth (EPH 1:4)! That is grace of the utmost amazing kind! While we may fail the LORD, He will never fail us; He abides faithful as our High Priest and Head of the church – as our LORD, Savior, Redeemer and Friend!

May we pray that the LORD instills in us the same faithfulness and fidelity, passion and love for Him as He has for us (LUKE 10:27), and that we would love one another as He loves us (JOHN 13:34-35)!

As this chapter has seventy-five verses, we will end Part One here, and continue next time, picking up on vs. 36 to the conclusion of this chapter.

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