LINK: Matthew 26
Preparation (vs 1-16)
An unidentified woman came with an alabaster vial of very expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus's head. When the disciples complained of the waste, Jesus praised her for doing good. She was preparing Jesus for his soon-coming burial. Then Judas joined the chief priests in their plot against Jesus and agreed to betray him.
Passover (vs 17-30)
The Passover was a day to commemorate Israel's exodus from Egypt. It was immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted seven days. The entire eight days was often referred to as the "Passover Feast." We usually refer to this meal that Jesus had with his disciples as "The Last Supper." A lot more details of the Last Supper are given in John's gospel (John 13-17). Here, in Matthew's account, we see that Jesus knew that Judas had already made arrangements to betray him.
Betrayal (vs 31-56)
Jesus went outside to pray and took Peter, James, and John with him. He asked them to pray too, but they kept falling asleep instead. Jesus wrestled with the agony he was about to suffer. He was looking at a very unpleasant physical death. But more than that, he knew he would experience an even more painful separation from the Father while he bore the sin of mankind on the cross. After he prayed, Judas arrived with a great number of armed men and betrayed Jesus with a kiss. The men seized Jesus and took him to the high priest.
Trial and Denial (vs 57-75)
While Jesus was being questioned by the priests, Peter (and John, we learn from John's gospel) hung around the courtyard. Peter was identified three times as a follower of Jesus and denied it three times.
At the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." He blessed and shared the cup as well, 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 . . ." He was giving the disciples a vivid picture of what was about to happen and the significance of his death. This passage is a great one to meditate on today.
Peter was so sure he would never deny Jesus (vs 31-35). Even if everyone else left Jesus, Peter was sure he would not. Even if he had to die with Jesus, he would not deny him. His confidence was entirely in himself, though, and he fell. We can learn a lesson from Peter. We can not put our trust in ourselves for those difficult times. We must draw our confidence from God. Peter eventually learned this lesson himself.
Peter wrote to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith, "[believers] are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5), and "Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13). No longer was Peter trusting in himself; he was fixing his hope entirely on Jesus.
When times are tough, do you rely on yourself when you should rely on God? When your faith could get you in trouble or bring ridicule, do you deny Jesus out of fear? Let's take these circumstances to God and put our trust in him, rather than depending on ourselves to get us through the difficult situations.
Lord, teach us to boldly proclaim your name. Help us not to buckle under fear but to turn to you for strength and trust in you for the outcome. In the name of Jesus, amen.