Title: The Loving Lord and His Unfaithful Family
Text: Matthew 26:17-35
FCF: We often see ourselves as the hero of the story, when we are actually the villain.
Prop: Because God is Loving and Sovereign and man is wicked, we must praise God for His gift of salvation.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 26. Last week we saw 4 different reactions to the cross of Christ. 4 soils. Surprisingly the one who would have been seen as the least was the one with true faith. Today we will see more responses to the news of Christ’s imminent death. But amid the continued faithlessness of all those around Him, we see our Lord as Faithfully loving. This sermon is all about our amazing God and His Messiah, and I can’t wait to get into it. There is so much to see.
Look at first 17. I’ll be reading form the NASB today, but follow along in the version you have or in the pew bible starting on page 1125. If you don’t have a bible take the pew bible home today.
We have a lot to cover so let’s get into it.
I.) God’s Sovereignty and Love is what made a way for us to be remade, so we must praise God for His love and faithfulness.
a. [Slide 2] 17 – Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
i. And thus began several fruitless hours of study.
ii. In my short tenure, being the primary teacher and preacher here, I have never had such an elusive question. Just as I thought that I had grabbed ahold of the answer – it would slip through my fingers.
iii. You may be saying – what from this one verse? Well – kinda.
iv. The question – that elusive question was – what is the chronology of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? And you might be thinking… well – isn’t it kinda easy? I mean we celebrate good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday, right?
v. Friends, It is not quite that easy. Now we don’t really have time to delve into everything I was chasing down. If you have an hour or two sometime and would like to know all the details behind all this, then by all means, let’s set up a time to discuss it.
vi. What we will talk about today are really – the cliff notes and the conclusions.
vii. First we must start by asking what makes the chronology so difficult?
1. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread are all found in Leviticus 23. These events, which by Jesus’ day had been lumped into one event, covered 8 days in which there would be 2 or 3 Sabbaths. A Sabbath on the first day of the event, a Sabbath on the last day, and perhaps the normal weekly Sabbath.
2. Many Jews considered sunset to be the start of the next day, so the Passover meal would be held at twilight on Nisan 15 which was the evening of the 14th going into the next day. Since the Jews had a lunar calendar and not a solar calendar, the 15th would ALWAYS be a full moon.
3. Nisan 15 to Nisan 21 would be the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
4. And depending on whether you were a Pharisee or Sadducee, either Nisan 16 or the first day in the Passover week that was after the normal Sabbath, would be the Feast of First fruits”
5. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke – All synoptic gospels record Jesus telling his disciples to prepare to eat the Passover feast. All synoptic gospels have them prepare for this feast, and then go right into them eating what seems to be the Passover meal. That night all 3 synoptic gospels have Jesus arrested and crucified the next day, which if you have been following me, would have been Nisan 15, the first day of the Festival of Unleavened bread.
6. Here is the problem. John’s gospel, written the latest, and having all 3 synoptic gospels available to him when he wrote, has Jesus dying before the Passover meal. In other words, John’s gospel places Jesus’ death a full 24 hours before the synoptic gospels, on Nisan 14, the day of preparation for the Passover.
7. [Slide 3A] So how do we harmonize this? Here are the three leading explanations as to how this can occur without concluding that the bible has errors.
a. [Slide 3B]There seems to be evidence that Judean Jews and Galilean Jews reckoned days differently. A Judean Jew would see a day starting at sunset and ending at sunset the next day. Whereas a Galilean Jew would see a day beginning at sunrise and ending at the following sunrise.
i. So in the synoptics we have the Galilean Jews starting the first of unleavened bread – Nisan 14 in the morning. That night they eat their Passover meal because it would transition from Nisan 14 to Nisan 15.
ii. But in John, the Judean Jews would only be starting Nisan 14 at sunset. So while Jesus and His disciples are eating their Passover meal, at twilight before the 15th began, the Judean Jews would only be just starting their Nisan 14.
b. [Slide 3C] Another explanation again has to do with Galilean and Judean differences, but this time it centers on a well-documented Galilean tradition. In Galilee on Nisan 13 going into Nisan 14, the Galileans had a Passover-like meal ahead of the Passover. It was called The Last Supper. It was a memorial dinner without the Passover lamb that served to remind them that during the Passover it was only the first born sons that were in danger of dying. So it reminds them of the mercy of God to not kill all, and pay homage to the risk of the first born.
i. So in the synoptic gospels when it covers this meal (which John does too) this is not the Passover meal but rather the Last Supper before Passover. Incidentally it was called the last supper because they would fast for 24 hours and break their fast with the Passover feast.
ii. In Luke, Jesus comments that he desires greatly to eat this Passover with them, but says that He will not eat it with them until he eats it with them in the kingdom. Our versions add the word “again” to make it seem like he was eating the Passover with them at that time, but the word “again” is not in the Greek text.
iii. Since the Galilean meal is similar to Passover, and even considered part of the celebration to a Galilean Jew, that would account for the verbiage in the synoptic gospels seeming to refer to this meal as the Passover.
iv. I literally cannot decide between these two. I keep going back and forth. But there is a third plausible view as well.
c. [Slide 3D] A third view is a spin-off of the last one, with the major difference being that Jesus was crucified on Thursday the 14th, was in the ground for part of Thursday the 14th, all of the 15th and 16th, and raised the morning of the 17th of Nisan.
i. This view would take a literal fulfillment of the 3 days and 3 nights prophesy Jesus makes about the sign of Jonah – even though this is probably a Jewish idiom to mean less than 72 hours and parts of 3 different days.
ii. This would also mean that the Sabbath spoken about in Mark and Luke would be actually the Friday, the 15th of Nisan, the first festival Sabbath, which would have been followed by the weekly Sabbath – of which the gospel writers are silent –
iii. This is my least favorite of the three simply because it seems the only reason it exists is to deal with the “problem” of the three days and three nights in the ground prophesy, but as I said, that seems to be an idiom more than a literal prophesy.
viii. [Slide 4] So after this rather long rabbit trail – coming back to Matthew’s text here. We see him say that on the first of unleavened bread. Notice that the word day does not appear in the Greek text, as indicated by it being italicized in the NASB. It is clear that both Luke and Matthew are more specific than Mark in that they are specifying the 14th of Nisan as when this event occurs.
ix. So this is either the Galilean 14th of Nisan as the first explanation would say and this is indeed the Passover meal they are preparing, or this is a Galilean pre-Passover celebration they plan to partake in at sunset on the evening of the 13th turning into the 14th.
x. Now, FINALLY, we can move on to verse 18.
b. [Slide 5] 18 – And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples”’”
i. We saw something similar with the colt when Jesus came in for His triumphal entry.
ii. We get some more details of this in Luke, where Jesus says to look for a man carrying a jar of water.
iii. Matthew tends to abbreviate things so – a certain man will do.
iv. It is not clear as to whether Jesus divinely knew this man would help, or had arranged it ahead of time. But such details are not all that important.
c. [Slide 6] 19 – The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.
i. Matthew’s short way of saying that what Jesus said to do took place.
ii. Now they had a place for the meal and the preparations for the meal itself, or at least the plans for the meal to happen.
d. [Slide 7] 20 – Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples.
i. Reclining at the table does indicate a more formal meal
ii. But a Galilean pre-Passover ritual meal would have also been formal.
e. [Slide 8] 21 – As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.”
i. Notice that they are eating a meal first. Mark also indicates that they were eating before Jesus has the Lord’s supper. If this was the Passover they would have had the ritual meal first and then eaten. Perhaps an indication that this is not actually Passover.
ii. But no matter what meal this was, his revelation that one of the 12 would betray Him would have been a heavy topic to raise.
f. [Slide 9] 22 – Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”
i. Understandably the disciples are shocked. Deeply saddened by this news. Meaning they believed Him – 100%. But they didn’t want to.
ii. Notice that Matthew lets us in on some of the conversation – which ends up being quite important.
iii. Each of the disciples says – Surely not I – Lord. Master.
iv. Jesus answers their concern.
g. [Slide 10] 23-24 – And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
i. First – the identification of the one who would betray Him is odd.
ii. In the synoptic gospels, the one who dips his bread with Jesus or the one whose hand is with his on the table is the betrayer. In John it is the one whom Christ gives a piece of bread to after having dipped it into the dish.
iii. So here are a couple questions. First, which was it? The one who dipped with me or the one whom I dipped and gave his bread to him? Second, wouldn’t all the disciples have seen this happen? Yet in the synoptic gospels they don’t see it, and in John he even says they don’t understand at all.
iv. The best explanation for this is that Jesus’ signs do not point to a specific person. Every disciple was sitting with their hand at the table. Every disciple had dipped into the communal bowl. Every disciple had received a piece of bread from Christ. The point is not to identify the one, but rather insure to them that it was someone close Namely, one of the family of the 12.
v. What Christ says next is so difficult for us to wrap our minds around.
vi. He starts by explaining that it has been God’s will from the beginning of time to crush His Son to bring many sons to glory. So in a real way, this betrayal has been foreordained. God has appointed it to happen. But...
vii. Playing such a part in God’s plan is a role that no man would desire to play. Jesus says it would have been better if Judas had never been born.
viii. There are two concurring things happening here. God’s Sovereign plan and Judas’s sinful rebellion. Both are true.
ix. We saw this with Pharaoh in Exodus. God tells Moses that He will use Pharaoh to bring glory to His name.
1. At first Pharaoh’s heart was hard. This is passive voice meaning we do not know who made the heart hard, there is no subject.
2. Second Pharaoh hardens his own heart, meaning Pharaoh chooses to oppose God.
3. Third Pharaoh’s heart is hardened by the Lord, meaning God either directly or indirectly guaranteed that Pharaoh would continue to resist Him.
4. It is dangerous to make Pharaoh an overriding case study, but perhaps this is what happened in Judas. His heart was naturally separated from God from birth. The devil put it in his heart to betray the Lord and he chose to follow it, then God used him to accomplish His will.
x. It all comes down to trust. Do we trust our Lord to show compassion on whom He chooses to show compassion and harden those whom He chooses to harden? If we do – we also know that God never punishes men because He didn’t choose them, but rather because they have earned every bit of their judgment.
xi. Let’s continue here…
h. [Slide 11] 25 – And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
i. Matthew reminds his readers that the betrayal was already in motion. Judas’ decisions were already made. Again – human choice and God’s ordination are blended.
ii. Notice what Judas says. He says the same thing as the other disciples doesn’t he. Except for one word.
iii. He calls him Rabbi. Teacher. Now this can mean master, but purely in an educational or religious sense. The other disciples called him master in the highest sense. They the slave, he the master.
iv. In the entire gospel of Matthew, the word Rabbi is only used in referring to Jesus by those who are outside of His following, or it is used as a negative example.
v. Not only does Judas coyly pretend as though betrayal is not already set in his heart, but refers to Jesus as nothing more than a religious educator. Someone worthy to be emulated. The other disciples – as flawed as their faith might be – recognized that Jesus was not merely worthy of emulation, but of absolute loving devotion.
vi. It is not without the saddest of ironies that all of them would abandon him before night’s end.
i. Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.”
i. Within the subtle difference of his words, and the truth behind his lying lips, Jesus has brought to him instant conviction.
ii. From the other gospels we understand that Judas in obedience to Jesus, leaves immediately to complete his betrayal.
j. [Slide 12] Passage Truth: If it has seemed to you that in Matthew’s gospel Jesus has not spoken very plainly to anyone regarding the purpose of His mission to die, well buckle up. This little section is THE most theologically loaded passage in all of Matthew. And the first major theological truth Matthew wishes to show the Jews is something very simple. Jesus knows His own fate. And He will go willingly to it. Why? Because it is the will of God.
k. Passage Application: Although this passage is laden with betrayal and desertion, this one thing remains – the Jews must understand that although they nailed Him to the tree, it was ultimately God who put Him there. And such a God would that not spare His Son to save men, is worthy of everything.
l. [Slide 13] Broader Biblical Truth: So for us, as we look at the betrayal of Judas, we need not consider our own betrayal. Why? Because ultimately we are always the faithless ones. We are always the betrayers. We are always the ones who would sell our Savior for 30 pieces of silver. But God’s Sovereign and loving plan made a way for us. He knew that He would be betrayed and deserted by those closest to Him.
m. Broader Biblical Application: Such a God is worthy of absolute devotion. In that death He has liberated our heart from betrayal, death, sin, selfishness, and all that makes us Judas. How do we respond to such truth? What application can there be to such truth? Praise. Simply… praise.
But there are more reasons to praise Him this morning. Let’s keep going!
II.) The Son’s faithful obedience even to the point of death is what signed the New Covenant, so we must praise God for His love and faithfulness.
a. [Slide 14] 26 – While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
i. Again we see less ritual here and more of an actual meal.
ii. In the midst of that, Jesus takes bread. Now if this was the Passover, we might expect this to be unleavened bread. However, the text does not indicate it is unleavened in any gospel. And if this was not the Passover, they may still have been getting rid of all the leaven they had, which would include getting rid of it by eating a large meal with many leavened breads.
iii. Still, this could be unleavened bread, and perhaps is the hidden bread of the ritual meal. When revealed the bread would be broken and the prayer they would pray would be to thank God for providing bread from the earth. Jesus of course, calls himself the bread of life – and He too would come out of the earth after His body was broken.
iv. When we see this as a Galilean pre-Passover meal honoring the first born whose lives were at risk, we see another beautiful picture Jesus could be painting. That He as the firstborn of many brothers would go and be broken in their place. Only HE would face the wrath of God and ultimately be delivered through it.
v. In any case, Jesus makes a vivid point. His body will be broken.
vi. We ought to deal briefly with the language that the bread is His body. There is absolutely no reason to think that Jesus is making some magical statement here. In the midst of the Passover event, everything eaten was a symbol. Everything represented something else. In such an event, language of equivalence, saying something is something else, would have not needed to be literal but would have been interpreted allegorically. Everything was representing something that had happened.
vii. But now Jesus turns to the present. That this is, right now, his body. He makes a startling turn from remembering what has happened, to realizing that something new has come.
viii. Paul provides excellent commentary on this event when he writes to the Corinthian church. A church that used such feasts not to remember Christ but for free boos and food. In Paul’s explanation there are two purposes clauses the go hand in hand. Do this in remembrance of me and as often as you do this you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
ix. Therefore the Lord’s supper is not his actual body and blood, nor is there any special distribution of grace at the event. It is a memorial service where the partakers can remember Christ and preach His death. The body of Christ eats the symbolic body of Christ and thus are reminded of their union with Christ. The Body of Christ drinks the symbolic blood of Christ, the life is in the blood, and thus is reminded of their union with Christ. And in this refreshing reminder we proclaim His death.
x. And today we’ll have a chance to do that at the Columbus Park.
b. [Slide 15] 27-28 – And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
i. If this is part of the Passover, we are presented a problem. There are four cups during the Passover meal. It is difficult to know exactly which one this one would be. The first cup is a cup of sanctification, the second plagues, the third redemption and the fourth thanksgiving.
ii. This may be a 5th cup that Jesus adds, or perhaps if this is a Galilean Pre-Passover ritual, he is making His own new cup to be observed.
iii. In any case, we see that Jesus is stating that this is His blood of the covenant. Which covenant and why blood?
iv. This has to do with God’s track record with covenants that forgive or cleanse sin. We see this all the way back to the garden. Animals take the place of sin. The day of atonement – many animals take the place of many sins. And God promises a new covenant, whereby the sacrifice of one will take the place of all sin. And even the Mosaic covenant was ratified by blood. Jesus confirms that it is His blood that will ratify or put the signature on the covenant.
v. Luke makes this clear to his gentile reader and specifies that Christ’s blood ratified the NEW covenant.
vi. But Matthew and Mark do not specify the new covenant here. If I had to guess, it is most likely because there would be no need to specify it for a Jew. The only covenant it could be that was not already ratified would have been a New covenant.
vii. This New covenant as the writer of Hebrews confesses is a covenant with better promises and a greater inheritance. The covenant that Jeremiah reveals, will forgive sin.
c. [Slide 16] 29-30 – But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
i. Jesus offers great hope to each of the disciples that remained there with Him.
ii. That one day, He would drink of the fruit of the vine, new, in the Father’s Kingdom.
iii. Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
iv. If they celebrated Passover, it would be very late at this point. Probably approaching midnight.
v. If this was some other Galilean tradition, it could be late evening.
d. [Slide 17] Passage Truth: Matthew reveals a blessed truth to the Jews that finally is made plain. This ritual of remembrance is expanded to include the greatest redemption and the greatest salvation of Yahweh. The provision of the New Covenant.
e. Passage Application: So the Jews must believe that this Jesus was their Messiah, King, and Lord. Because His blood will be the signature on the contract of the New Covenant.
f. [Slide 18] Broader Biblical Truth: For us, we have seen no greater moment than this. That the Son of God has come to lay down His life for His sheep. This New Covenant, ratified in His blood and extended beyond nation, tribe, tongue or gender – but to all people – is the greatest hope we have, until Christ returns.
g. Broader Biblical Application: That is why we proclaim His death in the Lord’s supper. That when we do it, we do it to remember Him. Because there is nothing greater to remember. And there is nothing greater to preach than Christ and Him crucified. The heart of the gospel – the signature on the contract – God’s final declaration of CHECK MATE to the forces of darkness all flows… from the cross. Again… what should be our response to this? Praise. Simply… praise!
Oh friends we are not done. You see we can’t adequately understand why we must praise our Lord, until we adequately understand something else.
III.) Among men there are no heroes, but God is ALWAYS the hero, so we must praise God for His love and faithfulness.
a. [Slide 19] 31 – Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’
i. So after words of comfort and encouragement
ii. He is the bread of life! His blood is the new covenant! I will drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom!
iii. He then bookends another warning.
iv. This time he tells them that all of them will abandon him. They will all fall away.
v. Jesus quotes half a verse of Zechariah 13. This context is most likely talking about some future event, but as Jesus has done before, and as we’ve seen of Old Testament prophesy, there can be many fulfillments.
vi. Here Jesus quotes it as fulfilled. When HE is struck His disciples will scatter.
b. [Slide 20] 32 – But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
i. But here again is hope. Here again is promise.
ii. Hope in a resurrection and hope in reunion.
iii. After communing with them so intimately for 3 years, culminating in the Lord’s Supper – He prophesies that they will set aside that community this very night. But then He promises to restore the community when He is raised.
c. [Slide 21] 33 – But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.”
i. But Peter. Rather than trust Jesus’ prediction and His promise, Peter in his hubris, assumes that such a fate could never happen to him. He, in his mind, out of all the disciples, is the least likely to do this.
ii. Unfortunately this is not uncommon of Peter. And as we’ve seen previously, Peter is lifted up in Matthew’s gospel as the best of the disciples. He is pictured as their representative.
iii. Peter says – though every one of these guys abandon you – I never will.
d. [Slide 22] 34 – Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
i. How devastating to hear Jesus’ reply. No doubt said with the kindest of eyes.
ii. Oh, Peter. Before the night ends, you will deny me thrice. Oh Peter – haven’t you learned yet that if you are to be the leader, you must be last. You must be least. Yet you still see yourself as greatest.
iii. Oh Peter.
iv. But Peter still does not believe.
e. [Slide 23] 35 – Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.”
i. I’d die with you first.
ii. And so will I times 10.
iii. Peek with me at the final words of verse 56 of this chapter…
iv. Then all the disciples what?
v. Left Him and fled.
f. [Slide 24] Passage Truth: Matthew again points the Jews to theological truth. But this time he does not reveal something about God, but rather about Man. He shows them who man is. Even children of Abraham. Even children of Abraham who have walked with Jesus for 3 years. Even the LEADER of such a merry band of Abraham’s sons… who is he naturally? He is a deserter. He is arrogant. He rests on his own wisdom and understanding.
g. Passage Application: But the blessed application is that when we are faithless our Lord remains faithful. That in the midst of the communion being cast aside – the Lord promises that HE will be raised and in that resurrection, HE will restore their family.
h. [Slide 25] Broader Biblical Truth: Oh friends. This truth hits us hard today. Because not only are we Judas, but we are Peter. We are betrayers and we are deserters, and what is worse… is that we all assume that it COULD NOT BE US. Surely not I Lord! Though everyone else abandon you – I NEVER WILL! Such is the true condition of man. We are always the hero of our story. Never the villain.
i. Broader Biblical Application: But as we’ve seen time and time again, the only hero in scripture is God. The Father, Son and Spirit – co-eternal, co-equal, 3 persons in 1 God – He alone is the hero. And based on HIS resurrection, and on HIS provision – HE WILL RESTORE HIS CHILDREN. So how do we apply such truth? Praise. Simply… praise.
[Slide 26 (blank)(end)] But looking at all we’ve seen today, How then shall we live?
That largely depends on whether you are His child or not. You can’t force Him to make you His child. You can’t do something to earn it. There is no prayer, there is no work or deed that you can do. But God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe.
If you see your heart as the same as Judas… the same as Peter… and you want it to be made new. If you find yourself yearning for peace with God and forgiveness of your sins? If all of a sudden you realize how desperately you need Him. Seek Him for help. Ask Him for new birth. Knock at His door and beg to be let in to dine at His family table. Because He promises that if you are seeking, asking, and knocking – He is answering.
But for those of us here today who are His children. The called out ones. The ones whom He has, is and will snatch from the fire. For us. Our only real response that we can come to after seeing what we are, and what He has done… is PRAISE!
Communal praise. Today we are going to the Columbus County Park. And it is providential that in such a communal event we see the Communion of Christ with His own reflected in scripture today. Today as we go and eat together – I would ask that we spend some time talking with one another – proclaiming the death of Christ, and remembering Him today. Praising Him for all that He has done, to bring this dead thing to life, and to make us heirs with Christ of His glorious Kingdom.
We can talk about how the lions will definitely not be good this year.
We can enjoy the chicken.
We can get to know one another better.
These are all good things.
But may our primary goal be to make Much of Christ and Him crucified. May we all draw each other toward Him and His cross, and reminding ourselves of the blessed hope of eating anew with Him soon in His Kingdom!