Weekly Reading: Matthew 26-28, Proverbs 11-14
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy reading. Still, I have trouble focusing on what I am reading. I recently started reading books on ministry and theology and I’ve enjoyed them greatly. The problem is my brain tends to drift off into “no man’s land” and forget what I just read. I do this, even more, when I am reading something that seems boring to me or something I already knew. Like me, when many of us read something, we are familiar with, we are more likely to lose focus and drift off into dreamland.
I can’t help but wonder if you maybe give into that line of thinking when it comes to the Bible. Before we dive into the book of Matthew chapters 26 through 28 and Proverbs chapters 11 through 14, I wonder if you were tempted to drift off and lose focus on these chapters. I know the final chapters in Matthew are probably familiar to us and this can cause us to lose focus and not read with fresh eyes. Let’s not make that mistake this time. Pray to God that He enables you to grasp the truth found in these scriptures and that they renew your faith and trust in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 26 is a long chapter (75 verses!) full of events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.
Matthew 26 starts with Jesus predicting his death in verse 2. In verses 3-5, Caiaphas and the other high priests & elders started to plot a way to kill Jesus. It’s ironic that in verse 2 Jesus says, “‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”’, and in verse 5 the high priests and elders say, “‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”’ It never occurred to me until now that Jesus prophesied his death at the same time the priests and elders were planning to kill Him. This should give us great comfort that Jesus is not taken off guard by any scheme of man or any plot against Him. Jesus is truly man, but He is also truly God. Jesus knew why He came to earth, and He knew exactly how it would happen.
Verses 6-13 record the account of Jesus being anointed with expensive ointment. The disciples are indignant and question why this was being done. Looking at John’s gospel account, we see that the disciple who called this action into question was Judas Iscariot. This makes sense because in verses 14-16 Judas plans with the chief priests to hand over Jesus to them. Judas is paid thirty pieces of silver.
Verses 17-35 recount for us the last meal Jesus would have with his disciples. Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, better known as Communion, today.
Verses 36-46 describe Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and ultimately His betrayal by Judas. Something we don’t think about often when it comes to this scene is that Judas knew they would be there. No evidence in Scripture would imply that Jesus spoke of going to the Garden of Gethsemane during the Last Supper or any other time before this. I’ve heard it said that Judas knew they would be there because Jesus often took His disciples to pray there with Him. What a profound idea! We know from Jesus’ ministry that He valued prayer and from this passage, we can see the importance of corporate prayer.
Verses 47-68 detail for us the trial of Jesus, which was an unfair trial, and the eventual deeming of Jesus as guilty and deserving death. The last verses in chapter 26 describe for us the event of Peter denying Jesus three times just as Jesus foretold it would happen.
Matthew 27 is another long chapter composed of 66 verses. Chapter 27 tells about Judas’ hanging (verses 3-10), Jesus is handed over to Pilate, Pilate delivering Jesus to be crucified instead of Barabbas (verses 11-24), the mocking and crucifixion of Jesus (verses 27-44), Jesus yielding up His spirit in death (verses 45-55), Jesus is buried, and His body being guarded by Roman soldiers (verses 57-66).
Just like chapter 26, a lot is going on in chapter 27 that we often miss, assuming the passage has nothing new to teach us. There are a couple of things in chapter 27 that I want to draw your attention to. Verses that will be familiar, but hopefully will be seen in a different light.
First, is the mocking and beating of Jesus. I know looking at myself, I don’t spend enough time concentrating, pondering, and appreciating the cruel beating and mockery Christ endured on my behalf. How often do we tear up and get angry over the fact that the soldiers “spat on Him”? That has hit me hard over the past couple of months. They spat on King Jesus. They mocked our Lord. They struck and beat God’s Messiah. That should give us some pause and lead us to reflect. Personally, when I think of the Roman soldiers spitting on the sinless One, I am far less likely to sin. Today, allow yourself to spend a few moments on the gruesome reality that “they spat on Him.” Pay attention to how you feel as you contemplate this disturbing scene.
Second, notice verse 51. “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” We don’t usually stop and think about what this means for us. In those times, there was a curtain dividing the temple. Only the high priests could go into the “holy of holies” and that was only once a year. When Christ gave up His life on the cross, He made it available for those He called to have access to Him. No longer do we have to go to a priest to confess our sins. No longer do we have to go through a priest to pray to God. Jesus, through His atoning death on the cross, made it possible for us to go directly to Him. Praise the Lord!
Matthew 28 is the last chapter in the Gospel of Matthew. In the last chapter, we see the account of Jesus’ unbelievable resurrection from death. One of the most popular verses in Matthew and maybe the whole Bible is the final passage, verses 18 to 20: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” This section of Scripture is known as “The Great Commission”. This happens right before Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father and instructs His followers to spread the hope of the gospel. This command by Jesus wasn’t just for His disciples at that time. This command by Jesus is the reason, among many others, why we send missionaries all over the world. Even if we aren’t called to go overseas, or start churches where the gospel is spread, we are all called to “go” in some form or fashion. How intentional are you with sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ? That He died for our sins? I know, in my life, I need to be better at evangelizing to the lost around me. Having experienced the power of Christ’s Great Commission anew, may we all be reminded of what He has done for us and share that Good News with others.
Our Old Testament reading lands us in the book of Proverbs, chapters 11-14. Chapters 11-14 speak of wisdom, righteousness, discipline, and comparing those who do good versus those who do evil.
One verse that stood out to me in chapter 11 was verse 21: “Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished, but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.” Oftentimes, we see the wickedness and evil in the world and think that those who promote evil will never be brought to justice. Rest assured, God will bring about justice and His righteousness will prevail.
A verse that stood out to me in Chapter 12 was verse 1: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” This is a great verse for all of us to meditate on. Being disciplined isn’t fun. Our first thought is rarely about how helpful it is. The author of Proverbs is reminding us that discipline can lead us to greater understanding (a very good thing). When we regularly learn from correction, we have truly matured.
A verse from Chapter 13 that stuck out to me was verse 12; “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” This is a verse that many of us may have heard in poetry but never knew originated in the Bible. What the writer of Proverbs is saying is that, when we have a prolonged hope for something, we become weary. You may be praying for a spiritually lost loved one to be saved, a new job, healing from a prolonged illness, etc. Year after year prayers seem to go unanswered by God. The writer goes on and says that “a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Meaning that when God answers or fulfills a desire of ours, it gives us life. We have to be careful not to make demands of our sovereign Lord which could lead us to become weary or respond sinfully. Pray big prayers and expect great things, knowing the Lord loves to bless His children. But don’t become weary or embittered when He doesn’t do what we want in our timing.
A verse that stood out to me in Chapter 14 was verse 34; “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” When was the last time you saw righteousness displayed at a national level (perhaps we’re reminded of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr)? The writer is hitting the nail on the head by saying that righteousness can exalt or raise a nation, but sin brings reproach and judgment to each person. May we all live for righteousness and the glory of God rather than sin and evil.
I hope you enjoyed the Scripture readings this week. I pray that God blessed you during this reading and that He shows you something new or reminds you of something you needed to be reminded of. Have a blessed week. –Trenton Parker