Cover to Cover

February 11

February 11, 2022

Matthew 26:17-56

 

In verses 17-25, Jesus celebrates the Passover feast with His disciples in Jerusalem. HE was the fulfillment of this prophetic event, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. How significant this is!

 

In verses 26-30, Jesus institutes communion. Then they went to the Mount of Olives, which is also significant. It was customary to sing the Hallel Psalms at Passover, Psalms 115-118. These songs are Messianic Psalms, prophetic songs with lyrics that foretell the future of our King. Personally, I appreciate that God is poetic, giving beautiful description and melody to His messages to us, especially when the content is our salvation and reconciliation of relationship. Think of it! Jesus is singing Messianic songs about Himself on the way to the Garden where He will be betrayed into the hands of the religious leaders of His own countrymen. This event is packed with meaning, beauty, and love!

 

They Mount of Olives has significance in that it is the place Jesus will be returning for His second coming. The Garden of Gethsemane is located on this mountain, facing the temple, facing the Eastern gate. You can see the temple from the mountain. There is also a cemetery there now, and it isn’t cheap to bury a Jewish loved one on the Mount of Olives. Why? Because the Jews know the Messiah will be coming there first.

 

In addition, in the garden are olive trees, located on the Mount of Olives. There was most likely an olive press as well. This is where olives are pressed and oil is released. Olive oil was the main component for holy anointing oil. It went through a crushing in order for anointing oil to be made. When we think of what Jesus was going to go through, we know He was going to be tormented, punished, for sin. He knew the price, and in that Garden, He had a choice. In the Garden He choose to die for you, your family, your loved ones, and the world. He could have said, “No,” but instead, He prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

 

Whatever choices we face in this life, none of them will equal the surrender Jesus made in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Jerry and I visited Israel, the spot I wanted to see was the view from the Mount of Olives towards the Eastern gate, because I look forward to my King coming again. For Jerry, of all the places in Israel, his number one spot he wanted to be was the Garden of Gethsemane. I asked him, “Why?” and he responded, “Because this is where He chose to die for me.” He wanted to pray where Jesus prayed, thanking Him for His sacrifice for him.

 

In that garden, Jesus was so sorrowful that it was a grief like death. The Bible says His sweat in prayer was like drops of blood. In the Garden, probably not knowing what was about to happen, the disciples fell asleep. Jesus rebuked them, but He also understood they did not understand. He also understood they were weary and weak in their flesh. Jesus said, “Rise, let us be going. See My betrayer is at hand.”

 

There Judas walks over to the Messiah, identifying Him to the enemy with a greeting of that day, a kiss on the cheek. Being abandoned by someone is not the same as being betrayed by someone. Being rejected is not the same as being betrayed. Judas was close to the Lord. Jesus was a spiritual shepherd, an authority, a teacher. Judas was with Jesus when He multiplied the food to feed approximately 20,000 people or more. Judas was with Jesus when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Judas was with Jesus when He walked on water, healed the sick, cast out spirits, and stopped the storms. Judas was with Jesus multiple times when He taught from the Scriptures, unfolding the Word of God to them. Jesus prophesied of His death and spoke of a coming kingdom. Judas ate with Jesus, walked with Jesus, did life with Jesus. In the Garden, Judas greets Him as “Rabbi,” and Jesus returns the greeting, as “Friend.” and then turned on Him, causing Him to face punishment and death.

 

God knew Judas would do what He did. It’s one reason He was chosen to be on the team. What Judas did lead to his suicide, a death prophesied in the Old Testament.

 

Let me tell you, I have had people withdraw from me, cut me off from them, unfriend me on social media, and abandon me in the middle of responsibility. I’ve had people criticize me, gossip about me, and maliciously slander me. I’ve even had people try to get revenge on me, close friends, try to tear me and my ministry apart. And when I’ve gone to God with my hurts, He reminds me of Jesus and how He loved Judas. He not only died for us while we were sinners or died for those that opposed Him; but Jesus died for that close friend that turned his back on Him. I believe Judas shows the love Jesus has for each of us, in our imperfections and failures. His love is not based on our performance or our condition; it is based on His love and His love only. It is a love that has no conditions because it isn’t based on our goodness; it’s based on His goodness. It’s our choice to receive that love or not, but whatever our choice, we are not going to stop Jesus from loving us. He is an example to us that even though some people can cut us off or try to harm us, they can’t stop us from loving them.

 

On the way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus predicted the scattering of the sheep when the Shepherd is struck, fulfilling Zechariah 13:7. Peter speaks up and says he would never stumble. Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times in the next few hours. Peter said, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” All the disciples agreed to stay true to Jesus, even in death.

 

Then in Garden, when the multitude came from Jesus with swords and clubs, Peter was ready to die for Christ. He pulled out a sword intending to start the fight. He meant to cut off the head of the high priest’s servant, but the servant probably swerved, losing his ear. Jesus picked up the man’s ear and healed it, performing a miracle in front of the crowd, still, they arrested Him. Jesus rebuked Peter, saying His Father would send 12 legions of angels if He requested it.

 

Jesus told the crowds that all this would happen to fulfill Scripture. I wonder if He looked at this angry mob, thinking that His life would be given for them as well. When the disciples saw that Jesus was giving into them, they fled. I believe they were willing to fight, even though the odds were against them. These were not soft men, and one day they would all be martyred for their faith, except John. Even John went through persecution for His love of the Lord.

 

This Scripture causes me to ask myself, “Would I die for my faith?” We may never be faced with that level of sacrifice as Christ or His disciples; however, each day we should be willing to yield to Him and obey Him, whatever the cost. We should pray for those who are being persecuted and martyred, supporting missionaries and foreign church leaders in their nations. We are one kingdom with one King. Let’s work together to see His will be done.

 

 

Leviticus 13

 

God speaks to both Moses and Aaron, telling them the law concerning leprosy. Leprosy has been illustrative of sin, a disease that will eat away at a person until death. Leprosy was considered unholy and required isolation. In a similar way, if someone we know is in rebellion to God, we can share Christ, but we are not to be close in fellowship with the person that rejects Him. Don’t be deceived. Bad company corrupts morals (1 Corinthians 15:33)