Today: [Matthew 26] Jesus Offends His Own: In chapter 26 of Matthew, Jesus allows a woman to pour over His head a very costly ointment as an act of worship. The disciples, including Judas are deeply offended at this and as a result Judas resolve is galvanized, that he will betray Jesus. At this very vulnerable moment, Jesus gathers the 12 and commits a covenantal act at the table of what we call the Last Supper, giving Himself not only to them but to all who would believe in His name, by the breaking of bread and distribution of the cup of the New Testament that has implications right down to this very day among those of us that believe.
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[Mat 26:1-75 KJV] 1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2 Ye know that after two days is [the feast of] the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. 3 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, 4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill [him]. 5 But they said, Not on the feast [day], lest there be an uproar among the people. 6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 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]. 8 But when his disciples saw [it], they had indignation, saying, To what purpose [is] this waste? 9 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.
We now come to the third prediction of Jesus to His disciples that He will be taken and crucified. It is just a few days before Passover and the thoughts of the disciples would be upon the Passover feast and preparations for its celebration. The scriptures tell us that God will do nothing except He will reveal Himself to us, yet as these disciples, we often do not listen to what He plainly says. After His resurrection and after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit there were many things that Jesus said and did that their eyes are opened to, but before then they just could not and very likely did not want to face the reality of what He was telling them. What about your own life? There have been times that God spoke very plainly to me about things that I did not want to consider, then when they happened my response was one of unjustified dismay because the Father was faithful to prepare me for what was ahead, but I didn’t want to listen. Studying these aspect of Jesus’ life and the disciples response to Him are important because for every one of us we will have our own experience of taking up the cross and following Him through dark and challenging times in our lives.
In verse 3 we see the chief priests, the elders of the people and the scribes conspire together how they might accomplish bringing Jesus to His death. Can you imagine? When Mel Gibson produced them movie “The Passion of the Christ” there was a strong objection of Jewish authorities that there would be any suggestion in the movie that the Jews were culpable in the death of Jesus.
Because of this outcry, the script deviated from the gospel account it follows so closely in order to soften or blur the role the Jewish authorities played in bringing Jesus to His crucifixion. These scriptures speak for themselves. As the gospel of John so eloquently tells us:
[Jhn 1:11 KJV] 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Are the Jews the only ones responsible for Jesus’ death? The fact of the matter is that in His death and suffering, Jesus carried the sin debt of the whole world thus implicating every man, woman and child who shall ever live with the consequences of what happened that day upon Calvary, as Isaiah himself declared:
[Isa 53:6 KJV] 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Nonetheless, because the people admired Jesus, the conspirators thought to time the betrayal of Christ to the Romans in such a way as to minimize the risk of a riot in the city. The plot was determined then, and while the plotters gathered at the high priest’s residence, we see Jesus in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper.
The fact that Jesus would enter the house of a leper, even if the man had been healed, was an absolute scandal to the Pharisees. Then, we see as Jesus sits down to a meal that a woman comes and pours out a very costly ointment upon Jesus head. The disciples are immediately indignant at what they considered as such a waste. Have you ever given a gift to Jesus that offended others who were made aware of it? Here, the disciples had left all and were following Jesus, yet this sacrificial act by the woman totally offends them. What is wrong with this picture? To justify their resentment to Jesus, they insist that this ointment could have been sold and something done for the poor. Have you ever heard such protestations by people complaining about how finances are handled in the ministry? Something is done in the name of ministry purpose and a complaint circulates that the money might have been used to a more worthy purpose. Is this not often disingenuous? If we think that the churches monies should go to the poor, are we caring for the poor? Remember the words of Solomon in Proverbs 27:19:
[Pro 27:19 KJV] 19 As in water face [answereth] to face, so the heart of man to man.
The disciples were truly concerned for the poor, they were simply scandalized that this woman was pouring out to Jesus an oblation of worship that exceeded their own commitment to Christ in themselves. Learn in your own life to hold your peace when it comes to criticizing or commenting on how another person conducts themselves in pursuit of laying their life down for the Lord. Jesus hears their objection and simply says in effect, “the poor are always with you, but you will not always have an opportunity to do as this woman has done in honoring Me this way…” In fact, He declares that in giving this gift of ointment in this way this woman’s act will be memorialized for all time. What an amazing thing. We tend to marginalize the act of giving as though it is something we should apologize for, but consider this great honor, that one could give so generously and deeply as to be remembered as an example for all that would come after as one who gave all in a moment of selfless worship.
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. 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. 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. 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. 30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
After the woman pours the expensive ointment upon Jesus, Judas has had enough. He goes to the chief priests and enters the conspiracy to betray Jesus to them. Isn’t this where betrayal of Christian ministry often takes place? How many times have we seen former employees of this ministry or that church go public with complaints about how money is handled, or finances are governed? In our society we tend to champion these whistle-blowers, but there are times that if you look more closely you will discover as in the case of Judas, that their motives were something other than pure. Judas was scandalized, not for concern for the poor, and this is reflected in v. 15 when he asks the high priests “what will you GIVE ME…” As with the other disciples as well, Judas is concerned about what was in it for himself in this whole affair about Jesus. Over and again through Matthew’s gospel we see the disciples bickering over position, querying Jesus as to what their reward will be, and finally Judas simply took that agenda to its logical conclusion and betrays Jesus completely, seeking from that time forward to betray Jesus to trial, scandal and death.
As the Passover time is at hand, Jesus instructs that a room be secured that He might partake of the Passover with His disciples. As they are eating the meal, Jesus almost casually states that one of them at the table will betray Him. We can see the influence Jesus had on these men that rather than pointing fingers, their hearts smote them with conviction and they ask of Him “Lord is it I?”. If you were sitting at this supper what would have been your response? Would you point the finger at Judas? Or perhaps Peter, whereas Peter had been openly called Satan by Jesus Himself, just a few days before. Yet, no in this holy moment they could only look at themselves, as Jesus further discloses that the betrayer will be identified by putting his hand in the dish at the same time that Jesus does as well. We see at this point a remark in v. 24 that tells us that while Jesus was destined for the cross, Judas had a choice. You will hear salacious doctrines and teachings that somehow Judas was honorable in the choices he made, and that he was necessary to the plan of God. We need to be very careful on this point.
Jesus states plainly that while His path was destined, Judas had a choice.
Having identified the betrayer, Jesus takes the bread and breaks it, initiating for them and for us the Lord’s supper in the distributing of the bread and the wine as His body and His blood given for us. This was a departure from the Passover traditions, as Jesus has now concluded the Old Covenant and at this table Constituted the New Testament in this one sacrificial act. The covenantal language is unfamiliar to us, but it was instantly recognizable to those at the table. Jesus was giving Himself body and soul to the disciples in an unbreakable covenant to the death that He would meet to the fullest of His power every conceivable need that they would ever have, or that those that came after them would ever have. This one act is so misunderstood and passed off as just a part of the Passover meal, but it was not. It was the institution and ratifying of what Jesus was about to do for His disciples and for us as well on the cross. He was giving us His blood and His body as our own particular possession so that we might say that His death is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection having chosen to have faith in who He is and what He did in our behalf.
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