Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 26 part 1

Chapter 26 of Matthew takes an abrupt tone shift as we are brought back into the historical account of Jesus' final week on earth. It is almost as if the previous chapters have been Him pleading His case and leaving His most important instructions behind. Today we will see the beginnings of the plot to kill Jesus as well as the historical account of the Last Supper. Some of the most beautiful pieces of Scripture are found here because of Jesus' determination to face what He knew He had to face. We also see the most despicable side of man in Judas betraying Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." – Matthew 26:10-13

This passage of Scripture is beautiful in its simplicity and serves as a powerful lesson that the disciples were far from perfect. This woman, who is unnamed, understood the sacrifice that Christ had to make on the Cross. Therefore, she took something that had incredible earthly value and gave it to Christ in order to honor Him for this sacrifice. The disciples, who had been traveling with Jesus for some time, were unwilling to believe yet that the Cross was necessary. They could not see past the earthly value of the perfume. Judas himself was blinded by greed at this point and disillusioned that Christ was not living up to his ideals of a Messiah. This would lead to his act of betrayal.

26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." – Matthew 26:26-29

For anyone who has ever attended a church regularly in their lives this is a very familiar piece of Scripture. I think that sometimes the symbolism of the Last Supper and subsequent Communion gets taken for granted. We go through the motions of accepting the body and the blood without giving much thought to what they mean. It is here that Jesus blends the old ceremony of the Passover, which signified God's covenant with the Jews, with the new covenant that he would lay down his own life to create.

This is something I haven't given much thought to every time I take Communion. I think it is difficult to truly grasp what this means. Not even the disciples truly understood it at the time, because less than 24 hours later all but one of them would desert Jesus at the time He needed them most. The original Passover was done as a sign of protection from almighty God. The Jews in Egypt followed explicit instructions knowing that by doing so God would intervene on their behalf. The symbolism of losing the firstborn in that judgment would carry over to Christ as He is the first and only son of God. The original covenant was no longer good enough, and in reality never was because it came from man. Only the sacrifice of the Son of God could intervene on our behalf. When we take Communion we must remember this.


  1. What role did greed play in Judas' betrayal?
  2. Were the other disciples aware that Judas was going to betray Jesus?
  3. Does Peter denying Jesus show a lack of faith?

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