July 15, 2012
INTRODUCTION – J.C. Ryle’s introduction to chps. 26,27 p. 345
I. The Plot to Kill Jesus – vs. 1-5 (read it) all what words? (ch. 24,25) how were they supposed to know?
A. This is the latest of a number of x’s Jesus sought to emotionally and theologically prepare His disciples for His suffering & death . Listen as I read them to you: “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and there nights in the heart of the earth.” 12:38-40
“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem , and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” 16:21 “but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 17:12
“And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day. And they were deeply grieved.” 17:22, 23
“ Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” 20:18 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 20:28
B. Jesus’s prediction & the leaders’ plan (vs. 3-5) Jesus knew from His fellowship with the Father and Holy Spirit when His crucifixion would happen; even though the religious leaders were hoping it could happen later.
These Passover festivals could attract up to one million people and the atmosphere could quickly become combustible. They knew Jesus Christ was very popular still with some of the surrounding cities; and they didn’t want to ignite a firestorm with their planned capture and unjust trial and unjust execution of Him.
C. BTW – lest we put all the blame on the chief priests and elders for their murderous intentions, please note that Matthew inserts “elders of the people” in vs. 3. These leaders were appointed and supported by the Jews, and as the story unfolds we will find they did not protest or complain when the chief priests and the elders moved forward with their evil plans.
Did Jesus’s disciples comprehend and accept the necessity of what was to come with their Master? I’m afraid not, as the following incident will show.
II. The Effort to Anoint and Prepare Jesus for His suffering – vs. 6-13 (read it) A. Location & Importance of Bethany – It is believed that the Lord Jesus spent His last nights in Bethany, which was east of Jerusalem on the south slopes of the Mount of Olives.
B. Simon the leper – This particular day He was at the home of Simon – a man whom Jesus had healed of leprosy. One question that is often asked is – is he the same Simon that Luke speaks of in ch. 7 where also a woman anoints Jesus with oil. I tend to think the story is a different story for 3 reasons. 1. The Simon of Luke 7 was a Pharisee, and there is no mention of leprosy in that account, nor Simon the leper being a Pharisee in Matthew’s account. 2. The woman who anointed Him in the Luke 7 story was identified as a notorious sinner, and there is no evidence anywhere that Lazarus’s and Martha’s sister Mary was such a woman. We know that the Mary in Matthew 26 is Lazarus and Martha’s sister Mary from the parallel account in John 12. 3. Some project that the reason this Mary loved Jesus so much was because she had been such a notorious sinner. But I would caution that we not think that those who have been engaged in notorious awful sins like prostitution or drug addiction end up loving Jesus with more adoration and affection than those who were not engaged in such sins. The apostle John appeared to experience more intimacy with Jesus than the other disciples, but he did not have that kind of former life. The reality is – the more you get to know the risen Christ – – no matter what kind of life you have lived previously – the more you realize how great your sin was and is. We know that Jesus often fellowshipped with Lazarus, Martha and Mary; and the more that happened – the more they all realized how pure and perfect and holy He was; and how impure, imperfect and unholy they were.
C. One thing I love about Jesus is He loves to frequent the homes of people He ministers to. May He ever be more present in yours and mine; and may our homes be homes where affection and adoration increasingly flows in His direction.
D. Matthew doesn’t name the worshipping woman; nor does Mark in his account in ch. 14 that very closely mirrors Matthews account. John is the one who identifies this lady as Mary in John ch. 12. But his account also raises some questions because it appears that his account takes place at Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s house; not Simon’s. But I would point out that John does not say that. John merely says in vs. 1 that Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was. In vs. 2 he says, “they made Him a supper there” but John doesn’t identify who the they was nor where “there” was. The “there” could have been referring to Bethany. Clearly there were others reclining at the table with Lazarus as seen in vs. 2. And it may be that all these people were at Simon’s house, which very possibly was near Lazarus’s house.
E. What is crucial to see in Matthew’s account is the sharp contrast between this woman’s very costly and courageous act of worship and adoration; and the angry reaction that Jesus’s disciples had when they saw it. John informs us in his account in John 12 that Judas was the one who complained the loudest, and while he said the money spent on the perfume should have been spent on the poor, this was not his true concern at all. To the contrary, had she placed that money in the offering box that Judas evidently was responsible for, he could have and would have then pilfered or stolen some of the money to line his own pockets.
So how do you account for her tender hearted devotion and their harsh reaction against her?
I believe she knew what was coming; knew it must happen; knew her sins were what made it necessary to happen; and thus she as Jesus said in Matthew 26:12 “did it to prepare Me for burial.” You see while Mary did not get all the time with Jesus that the disciples did, she did see Him often; and He most likely often shared with her and Martha and Lazarus of His coming suffering just like He did with His disciples. The difference is instead of rebuking Jesus like Peter did for such a foolish thought in Matthew 16; or reacting in anger and disgust like the disciples did in Matthew 26, she accepted that the cross had to happen – – that there was no other way to uproot and heal the cancer of sin; and she wanted to do what she could to help prepare her Savior for His appointment with the cross.
You see Mary knew she was a sinner; and Mary knew there was only one solution for her sin; and Mary knew that Jesus Christ was the only one who could provide that solution; and Mary knew that Jesus Christ was the only One who had no sin and was the last One that should have to undergo what He was about to under go; and Mary knew that Jesus was willing to do this because He loves us so much; and Mary possibly knew His suffering was going to be very intense.
Thus Mary’s act of worship and adoration was as passionate as it was perceptive. And thus Jesus promised that “wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
The disciples on the other hand it appears had not yet come to these conclusions. Fortunately eventually all of them did except for Judas, whom we will read about in a minute.
Can I ask you this morning, What is your emotional reaction when you hear me or others speak of the cross or the blood of Christ or His sacrifice on the cross for our sins? Does that immediately awaken praise and worship and gratefulness? Or does it cause you to grind a bit; maybe just kind of tolerating such talk until I or others get on to more practical topics?
The apostle Paul says the word or message of the cross “is foolishness to those who are perishing…” I personally believe when Jesus oft spoke of what He was destined for and would soon experience re: His substitutionary death on the cross, Judas had to bite his tongue. Why waste the promising life of a young charismatic leader at the head of a growing movement with such a senseless, premature death?
Perhaps because of John travolta’s son’s death a few months ago; and now Tom cruises’ divorce, the church of scientology, which they both belong to has been in the news a lot. This movement actually doesn’t have that many followers, but it has some noteable ones including a number of movie stars. I’ve wondered why they would follow such a religion that has some of the wildest teachings of just about any cult I am aware of. But one thing I know – – they probably readily agreed and connected with what its founder – Ron Hubbard – taught about sin. In one of his many rambling writings, Mr hubbard said, “Scientology further holds man to be basically good, and that his spiritual salvation depends upon himself and his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.”
Paul goes on to say in I Cor. 1:18, 19 what is true about this message of the cross, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Which is a quote from Isaiah 29
Jesus Christ wants this woman’s story told to the ends of the earth because she not only fully received Him as Savior; and fully admitted that she was a sinner in need of a Savior; but she worshipped Him publicly and passionately for that.
III. The Effort to Betray Jesus – vs. 14-16 (read it) A. Well for a group of cowardly and corrupt leaders who were wanting to seize and kill Jesus by stealth; Judas’s offer to betray Him at the opportune time and place was an answer to their plots; and an immediate satisfying of his insatiable thirst for money.
B. You know when you resist God’s answer for man’s sin problem, you leave yourself wide open to one or more of its many manifestations – – and for Judas that was certainly greed.
CONCLUSION – As we prepare our hearts now to come to the communion table, I think it would be appropriate that – like Mary of old – some of us express to Him how much we appreciate what He has done for us on that cross. We do not need to anoint Him. But we do need to adore Him.
COMMUNION – In a while I will release us to come to His table Word to visitors about its meaning?