Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Matthew 26

July 17th, 2011 by Vic

July 17, 2011

“Do you trust your sword or the Lord?

Matthew 26


This chapter mentions 4 people in the story of Jesus.  Caiaphas is called the high priest, but he acts like a politician.  A woman, probably Mary, anoints Jesus for burial.  Peter says one thing and does another.  Judas betrays his friends.


We’ve all heard this part of Jesus’ life story many times.  This story can be like yesterday’s newspaper, it is old news.  We want to hear something new.  Our consumer culture has programmed us to cast off the old and buy the new.  This old story is good news.


In God’s kingdom the oldest is the youngest.  We’ve been born again with an imperishable seed.  Spiritually we grow younger.  The old stories become more and more precious.

26:1-2  Jesus’ public teaching was over.  He reminds the disciples of the significance of the Passover sacrifice and the connection with His coming death.  He now uses the word ‘crucifixion’ to predict His death.  The death of Jesus on the cross is not a surprise, nor does it indicate the failure of Jesus’ mission.  The cross is not an accident.  Death is not defeat, but triumph.  Jesus is trying to prepare His disciples for the evil that was being planned and help them see how God will use tragedy for triumph.  This is the reason He came to earth.


The story is filled with irony.  Though sinful men do their best to thwart the mission of Jesus, they accomplish the very purpose for which He came.  The priests, their clothing, their rituals, their whole purpose of existing was to identify and point to the coming Messiah, but the only correct assessment of Jesus during the crucifixion comes from a Roman centurion and his soldiers.  Another irony is that after Jesus told His disciples about the coming events, the religious leaders met together to plan them.  Another irony is that the Judge of the universe is about to be judged.


26:3-5  Caiaphas was High Priest from A.D. 18-36.  From 37-67, before the Fall of Jerusalem, there were 28 different High Priests appointed.  Caiaphas knew how to please the Romans.  He was the perfect politician and schmoozer.


The Sanhedrin decided at this time that there were too many pilgrims (1-3 million) in the city to have Jesus killed.  It may cause a riot and Rome would not be happy.  The decision was made to wait until after the feast and all the visitors had gone home.  Their motivation was not spiritual.  Jesus was becoming very popular and their influence and income was being threatened.



Alabaster is a precious stone.  The contents of this stone jar were poured out on Jesus so He could go into a stone tomb and come out as a precious, fragrant, anointing on the world.


This woman was the Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet listening to His teaching while the sister was banging around in the kitchen.  Mary is the sister of Lazarus who fell at Jesus’ feet near the tomb of Lazarus and wept.  She was criticized by her neighbors.  Here in Matthew’s story she is criticized by the disciples.


A true worshipper of Jesus will often be criticized and misunderstood.  But because she had a special relationship with Jesus, she knew she had to anoint Him at this time.  She felt compelled to do good from a heart of love, not because the law required an anointing.  This is the only burial anointing Jesus received.  Everyone else only had good intentions.


The disciples failed to sense the significance of the events in Jesus’ life.  They were so practical, but their timing was wrong.  We went to a funeral this week.  During the time of an open mike, a former pastor’s wife shared a couple memories and concluded by asking for prayer for her husband.  Her timing was wrong.  The funeral was not about her and her husband.



Judas did not even negotiate the price.  Money was not his only motivation.  He was ticked off for being criticized and frustrated that Jesus was not becoming a king like he expected.  Judas may have been trying to force Jesus’ hand.  Maybe he was trying to make Jesus fit into his plan.  He was paid to find a time when Jesus could be arrested without causing a public riot.


Contrary to some opinions, God can use a selfish, sinister deed in accomplishing His will, but it does not make it a good deed or justify the person doing it.  God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility is preserved in this betrayal.


Exodus 21:32 says the ransom of a slave is 30 pieces of silver.  Zech 11:12-13 says the shepherds in the house of the Lord will require 30 pieces of silver and it will be paid to the potter.



Jesus had already made arrangements with a friend in Jerusalem.  The disciples did as Jesus instructed them.


Jesus made the shocking disclosure that one of them would betray Him.  They all dipped bread in the same bowl that was filled with an herb, fruit and nut mixture to represent the mortar used in building with bricks.  Eating together was a sign of solidarity and fellowship.  A disciple, a friend who eats with us and walks with us would never be a betrayer.  But he was!  Now the 12 question their own personal loyalty to Jesus.  How much more must we prayerfully ask, “Lord, is it I?”  The line between commitment and betrayal can be a thin one.


We are all capable of sinning.  We are just one stupid decision away from jail time.  The disciples are gripped with fear knowing they are capable of sinning.


Jesus could have paralyzed Judas and made him helpless.  But the only weapon He used was the appeal of love.  He confronted him with his sin.


This scripture balances divine sovereignty and human responsibility.  Judas had a choice.  Jesus had a choice.  When we get to heaven God’s sovereignty will probably make more sense.



The Passover feast was a celebration of freedom.  The blood of the lamb provided protection and symbolized forgiveness.  This is a real meal that provided many reminders of God’s love and faithfulness.  Jesus is Lord of our dinner tables.  As often as you eat and drink, remember…


Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it.  That should remind you of the feeding of the 5000.  Jesus is offering His life to feed the spiritual hunger of the world.  Why did He not use lamb meat to represent His body?  I don’t know.  But my guess is because lamb was not eaten at every meal and Jesus wants us to remember Him regularly.  As often as you eat or drink remember that Jesus died for you, whether you are a vegetarian or not.


Jesus said, “This is my body”, but He was still alive.  He was literally there with them.  The bread was not a slab of His physical body.  But the symbolism is visible to those with eyes to see.


He took the cup of juice and did not pour it out on the door posts.  When the lambs were sacrificed in the OT the blood was poured out around the altar.  Why are we told to drink it?  Maybe because it represented the whole atonement, the whole covenant.  We need to be cleansed and purified on the inside.  We need to be forgiven of our sins by faith in Jesus.  It is a new covenant and always getting newer.  Our bodies are now the forgiven and cleansed temple of God.



Jesus gives them a heads up about what is about to happen that night.  He confirms the reliability of Scripture, but the disciples denied their potential failure.  Peter was not so sure of the others, but he knew he would fight to the death.  He would never be disloyal.


Do you trust your sword or the Lord?  Will you die for Jesus if you can go out in a blaze of glory and sword fighting?  But if God wants you to humbly submit to His will, are you willing to die in a dark garden without anyone knowing how valiant you were?


Peter really believed he would be faithful.  He did not think he would ever disgrace Jesus.  He was overconfident in the flesh.  Do we often think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think?


Though we are weak and irresponsible, we are not outside the plan of God.  The sheep that are scattered can be gathered.  Forgiveness and restoration are available.  Jesus gives them hope.  The smitten shepherd and scattered sheep will be reunited.



Gethsemane means ‘oil press’.  Jesus is pressed with sorrow and anxiety.  He had never experienced the wrath of God against sin before.  He dreaded it.  Shouldn’t we?  Now He was to bear the sin of the world.  He saw the overconfidence of His friends and warned them an hour of temptation and stress was coming for them.  They needed to be praying for themselves.  Jesus had predicted their defection that very night, but they slept.  When you are troubled and distressed who should you go to?  The scripture says there is safety in the abundance of counselors but it also says seek first the kingdom of God.


In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve said, “Not Your will but mine.”  That brought temporary pleasure and changed their Paradise into a weed patch.  Now the Son of Man is in Gethsemane.  “Not My will but Yours” brings anguish to the one who prays it but transforms the weed patch of man into God’s garden.


Jesus would like to have avoided the trouble ahead but “if it is not possible (42) may Your will be done.”  Jesus is tempted to think of an alternative plan.  He prayed, submitted to the Father’s will and then faced His betrayer head on.  He tells the disciples it is now too late to pray for strength over temptation.  Let us be going.  This same word for ‘go’ is used in Matt 10:18.  It is translated ‘brought’.  “You will be brought before governors and kings.”



Judas may have led this large crowd to the upper room first.  Judas had to identify the right man.  They had no cameras and wanted posters.


The normal word for ‘kiss’ was ‘phileo’.  But this word is ‘kataphileo’ which denotes to kiss fervently.  The kiss of the betrayer was more demonstrative than the simple greeting on the cheek.


There are 2 words for ‘friend’ in the Greek.  The common word ‘philos’ denotes a loved one.  The other word ‘hetairos’ (50) denotes a companion or partner.


Peter may have seen this as an opportunity to prove his loyalty.  He showed tremendous courage, but you don’t have to defend a tiger.  A legion was 1,000-6,000 troops.  Jesus did not need human assistance if resistance were the right thing.  Jesus knew help was available.  He chose not to use it.  But passive submission was not what the disciples had in mind.  They had not had much sleep.  They were far outnumbered.  They still trusted their sword more than their Lord.  This does not teach pacifism.  Jesus does not melt or destroy Peter’s sword.



The breaches in law are so numerous as to be unbelievable.  We can be so illegal claiming to be on God’s side.  They had not planned to kill Jesus till after the feast, but Judas gave them a window of opportunity.  If they could get all their paper work done, they could present Jesus to Pilate at dawn and have Him crucified before the Sabbath.  Doesn’t the end justify the means?  They were getting rid of a blasphemer so they did not have to be legal.  Their goal was not justice, but the death of Jesus.  They were trying to build their case in a short time.


The high priest was frustrated by Jesus’ silence so he charges Jesus to answer under oath by the living God.  If Jesus refuses to answer, he breaks a legally imposed oath.  Jesus is the Messiah and must answer affirmatively.  But He is not quite the Messiah the high priest had in mind so he must answer cautiously and with some explanation.


Jesus’ answer is like our “sort of”.  Am I the minister of this church?  Well, sort of.  It depends on who is asking the question.  For some a minister is one who has status, authority, political position, etc.  That is not what I am in relation to this church.  So Jesus says, “Sort of” and quotes from a Psalm and Daniel.


The high priest regarded this as horrifying blasphemy.  It is very interesting to me that this man who was to represent all the people before God, tore his priestly robe to display (65) his horror at blasphemy.  And in the next chapter (27:51) the veil covering the presence of God in the holy of holies is torn by God from the top to the bottom to reveal God’s horror at man’s blasphemy.


Technically, Jesus would have to use the name of God to blaspheme according to Jewish law, but the high priest heard what he wanted to hear.  Jesus had deliberately not used the word ‘God’.


The one they now judge will someday stand as their judge.  Can you imagine the future scene?


If you read Matthew closely you will notice that he does not blame the Jewish people as a whole for the death of Jesus.  It was sin in the hearts of a few religious leaders that caused the death of Jesus.  It was sin in the hearts of men that produced a shotgun trial.  It was sin in the hearts of men that heard what they wanted to hear.  Jesus died to forgive the sin in your heart.



While Jesus is boldly confessing His identity Peter is denying “the man” (72).  Matthew does not mention Peter again.


Is it easier to use your sword than to trust the Lord?  We do not have to defend Him.  Read:  1 Cor 10:10-13.


Maybe you can identify with the woman who was criticized.  Or maybe like Peter you find yourself doing things you don’t really want to do.  Maybe like the priests you are so sure you are right that you do not seek any other council or truth.  Jesus knew who he was, loved the disciples and trusted God.  He chose to die that we might live.


Remember the story about the speeder who was stopped by a policeman that attended his church.  The policeman was polite, but wrote out a ticket while the speeder protested.  After the policeman left, the speeder looked at his ticket.  He realized it was a note that simply said, “A speeder killed my son.”  We are like the speeder.  My sin is no different from the sin of the Jews.



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