Matthew Challenge Day 26
For the 28 days of February, a bunch of us are reading through the 28 chapters of Matthew (1 chapter a day). The purpose is to learn more about the life & teachings of Jesus ... and how those should be impacting our lives. We are going to post a short devotional guide each day on this spot so you can get a little help thinking through each chapter. Day 26 starts below.
Chapter 26 spans parts of 4 days—Tuesday p.m. through Friday a.m. (by our way of tracking time). A lot happens, even with there being nothing recorded about Wednesday … a day of rest & preparation. Jesus was focusing on what was about to unfold. Not only would the events of Thursday night / Friday be emotionally and physically draining, they would be off-the-scale spiritually. (Imagine, the Son of God dying!)
The chapter begins (26:1-5) with another statement by Jesus of his impending crucifixion; it would begin in only 2 days. Even as he was speaking, the religious leaders were plotting the time of his execution.
26:6-13 records a dinner in Bethany, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, in the home of a (former) leper where an unnamed woman anoints Jesus’ head with very expensive perfume. This was the second “anointing” Jesus received in a couple of days; John 12 says that two days earlier, Mary (sister of Martha & Lazarus) anointed Jesus’ feet. Judas Iscariot criticized Mary’s “waste” of money; he said it could have been given to the poor. (John says Judas was actually upset because he had been stealing from that fund.) Back to Matthew and Tuesday night; this time “the disciples … were indignant” about the waste of money. (How a critical spirit can spread!) Jesus spoke strongly in her defense and announced she was “anointing him for his burial”; it would be a testimony down through the years as the gospel was preached. For Judas, it was the final straw—he went to make a deal with the chief priests to hand Jesus over to them (vv14-16).
26:17-30 tells us of the instituting of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening. Just as Jesus had made advanced preparations for his triumphal entry on Sunday, he had reserved a room for this special Passover. In Matthew’s account, Jesus begins by revealing that he will be betrayed by one of the disciples eating the Passover meal in that room. V22 “They were very sad and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’” To Judas (obviously in a side conversation) Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” Jesus knew … and now Judas knew that Jesus knew; Judas would leave shortly.
The institution of “The Lord’s Supper” took place at the conclusion of Passover—short, simple, clearly & strongly symbolic about the most important sacrifice of all time. Unleavened bread, broken, symbolized Jesus’ physical body that would be crucified (offered as a sacrifice) for the sin of humanity. The contents of the cup, symbolic of his blood spilled out, would cleanse all who would put faith in him … from all their sin.
26:31-35 It is hard to imagine the thoughts, emotions, and spiritual conflicts in the room that night. From Jesus explaining his supreme commitment, to his announcement that all of the disciples would “fall away” that night. One would betray; the others would run away. All deny that they would, but Peter says it most strongly. Imagine his hearing Jesus say, “You will deny me three times.” Poor Peter so strong … & weak.
26:36-46 Jesus and the eleven leave the room and go out of the city to the “Garden” of Gethsemane. Jesus is going to Gethsemane to pray, like he had done at other times. It will be the most intense prayer time of his life as he makes the final and full commitment to God … to do God’s will; he will be the sacrifice for sin and open the only way to salvation. His disciples were with him, but sleeping. (No commentary needed.)
26:47-56 After praying deep into the night (early into Friday morning) the sound of “a large crowd armed with swords & clubs” is heard; they are coming to arrest Jesus. Look who is leading the pack—Judas. Peter tries to defend Jesus from the mob—with his sword he cuts off the ear of a servant—but Jesus stops him (and heals the servant’s ear); he says he has an angelic army at his command … he could call on them if he needed them. He didn’t. They take Jesus away … and the disciples “fall away.”
There are a couple of more things in chapter 26, but I am out of space and they will fit better with the opening part of chapter 27. For today, just think about that night … what Jesus went through … for you and me!