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Matt 26-28: The Defeat of Death by the King Print E-mail
Monday, 03 October 2005

The events we are looking at this morning are no less than the pinnacle of all history.  There is no more important or significant event in the history of the world than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  All of history relates to the cross, even as the very dating of history revolves around the birth of Christ.  These events are the climactic point of each of the gospels.  The telling of the life of Jesus is climaxed at the telling of his death.  Everything that happened before these events were pointing towards it; and everything that has happened since is impacted by it.  Indeed, this morning our text covers the three most important days and two most important events in all the history of the world.

The stage has been set in the book of Matthew.  We looked last week at the final discourse of Jesus, dealing with the importance of being prepared for the return of Christ.  The whole of Jesusí ministry has been building to this final hour.  He has told his disciples on numerous occasions and at the beginning of our text this morning (see 26:2) that he is going to suffer and die.  And now, all that is left is final preparation and action.  It is what we study this morning that is the basis for all our hope and all our belief.  If we have life this morning, it is because of what takes place in these chapters.  If we have hope, it is due to the death and resurrection of our Lord.  Therefore, do not miss the weight of the text this morning.  Rather, let it fall on you with all power, with all might, with all mercy, and with all grace that is found within its words.

I would like to break our text into 4 stages.  Let us look at them together.

The first stage: Preparation (26:1-46)

Chapter 26 begins with Jesus announcing to his disciples again that he will die.  We see clearly, as we will see in a number of places in our text this morning, that Jesus is completely aware and in control of what is about to take place.  He is not being taken by surprise.  Rather, he is voluntarily laying down his life as a sacrifice for sins.  After his statements we see the final preparation taking place on many different levels.

First, we see the preparation of the Chief Priests and the Elders to arrest and kill Jesus in verses 3-5.  Even though they planned not to kill Jesus during the feast for crowd control, nevertheless, we see that a greater control is at work in the death of Christ, namely the control of the Father.

Second, we see the preparation of Jesusí body for burial by the women with the expensive ointment.  In verses 6-13, Matthew relates the story of the women who anoints Christ at the home of Simon the leper.  Even though the disciples rebuke her for wasting the ointment, Christ rebukes them for failing to see the significance of the act.  He states clearly in verse 12 that she is preparing his body for burial.

Third, we see Judasí preparation to betray Jesus by going to the chief priests and selling the Lord for 30 pieces of silver.  Judas will wait for an opportune time which will come very quickly.

Fourth, in verses 17-29, we see Jesusí final preparation of the disciples.  He gives instructions for having the Passover meal with them, where he tells them that one of them will betray him.  Again, this shows his total awareness of what is taking place.  Jesus is very aware of Judasí plan to betray him.  Then in verses 26-29, as we observed a couple of weeks ago, we see Jesus institute the ordinance of the Lordís Supper.  He calls the bread his body, which will soon be broken, and the wine his blood, which will soon be spilt.  He points them to the reality that his death is the manner by which we enter into the new covenant.  Thus, we too, as we take the bread and the cup, remember what Christ has done for us and look forward to the day when we will eat it with him in the Fatherís Kingdom.  It should be noted that the first of the two ordinances of the Church is instituted here and relates directly to the death of Christ.  In a moment, we will see that the second ordinance, baptism, relates to this as well.

Fifth, we see Christ preparing Peter for his denial in verses 30-35.  Even though Peter and the other disciples claim that they will follow Christ unto death, we know from the story that Jesus is correct in his prediction.  Peter will deny and the rest will abandon as well.

And sixth, we see that Christ prepares himself for what is to come.  In verses 36-46, Matthew relates the account of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.  Even at this point, we see the disciples failing to obey their teacher.  Matthew records for us what Jesus prayed in verse 39.  Look at that verse with me.  The cup that Jesus prays to pass we know refers to his upcoming death on the cross.  Yet, as we see in many Old Testament passages that the cup often refers to the wrath of God.  Look at Psalm 75:8 and Isaiah 51:17, 22.  These passages make it clear that the cup is a reference to the wrath of God.  It is the cup of the wrath of God that Jesus willingly chooses to drink in our place.  Remember this the next time you drink down the cup of the new covenant.  Indeed, as Glenna just sang, Christ drank down the cup of Godís wrath that we might drink down the cup of his love and covenant with us. 

Look at verses 45-46.  We see that the final preparation has been completed.  This leads us into the next stage in the text.

The Second stage: Arrest and Trials (26:47-27:26)

The arrest of Jesus takes place in verses 47-56.  We see that Judas finds his time to betray Jesus and comes and betrays him with a kiss.  Yet, even more amazing is the repeated emphasis of the fact that Jesus is voluntarily laying down his life.  Look at verse 53.  In response to the disciple cutting off the ear of one of the soldiers, Jesus makes it clear that if he wanted to take them all out then all he had to do was say the word and legions of angels would show up.  But Jesus does not say the word because that is not the plan.  The plan is perfect obedience to the Fatherís will.  The plan is Jesus freely laying down his life for the sins of the many.  The plan is a voluntary sacrifice of the King.  And Jesus moves forward in this plan.

The first trial that Jesus faces is before the High Priest, Caiaphas.  Along with Caiaphas, Jesus stands before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.  This would have been made up of the religious elite in the city.  They struggle in trying to find evidence against Christ and break their own law in listening to false testimony.  Yet, their intention is clear, they want to see Christ killed.  Yet, they do not have the authority to issue the death penalty, so even though they find him guilty of blasphemy, they send him to Pilate with the charge of treason against Rome.  It is ultimately the charge of treason that will lead Pilate to hand over Jesus to be crucified.  Even though Pilate cannot find any guilt in Jesus, out of his desire to please the crowds, he gives into their cries and hands Jesus over.

Following each of these trials, we see the failure of two of Jesusí disciples.  First, we see the failure of Peter in 26:69-75.  And we also see the failure of Judas in 27:3-10.  It is interesting to note the response by both disciples to their failure.  Judas responds with remorse, which eventually leads to his suicide.  While Peter responds with conviction, which eventually leads to his repentance before the Lord.  In light of our failures before the Lord, we must respond as Peter did, with repentance and faith in the Lordís mercy to forgive.

The Third stage: Death and Burial (27:27-66)

In 27:27-31 we read of Jesus being mocked as the King of the Jews.  As with so much of Christís death, we see great irony in the mocking of Jesus.  He indeed is the King of the Jews and the greatest of Kings that ever existed.  Yet, they mock him and beat him and put a crown of thorns on his head.  They mock him for being a King and there has never been a truer, worthier, King.

From there, they lead Jesus out to crucify him.  Now, it goes without saying that the physical pain involved in Jesusí death was horrendous.  They had already beat him with a whip that had bone fragments in the end of it in order to rip his flesh open, then they put the crown of thorns on his head and beat him with the reed they had given him.  Thus, even though the person being crucified was supposed to carry his own cross beam, Jesus was so weak at this point that he could not carry it and so a foreigner was forced to bear it.  When they arrived they offered him wine to ease the pain, but after tasting it, Jesus refused it.  Then, they nailed his hands and feet and lifted him up upon the other beam in the ground.  Not only was he hanging by nails, but crucifixion caused the victim to not be able to breathe correctly.  Thus, here is the King, nailed to a tree, struggling to lift himself through searing pain to even breathe, bearing the scars of terrible beating and lashing, dying for the sins of the world.

But it is not the physical pain that I necessarily want to draw your attention to this morning.  Yes, it was horrible and unimaginable, but look at verses 45-46.  I think verse 46 is one of the darkest verses in the Bible.  And you want to know why it was necessary, then look at one of the other darkest verses in the Bible: Genesis 3:8.  Adam and Eve had rebelled against God and here we read of them hiding from the presence of God.  We are born into such rebellion as part of Adamís helpless race.  And we deserve to be forsaken by our God.  Yet, it is Christ who is forsaken.  It is Christ who bears the weight of the wrath of God.  It is Christ, who had been in perfect relation to the Father since eternity past, who on the cross endures the separation and hell that we deserve.  Amazingly, even in these dark moments of the Bible, we see the light of love in our God.  For, as Genesis 3:15 foretold, as Christ is crushed under the weight of the wrath of God, the very head of the serpent, our enemy, is crushed by our Lord.  This is the decisive blow.  This is everything that Satan tried to tempt Christ away from, from the tempting in the wilderness to the tempting through Peter to even the tempting of the crowds at the cross, Satan wanted Christ to save himself and abandon the plan of God.

But Christ would not.  He remained on the tree until he gave up his life.  He endured the pain to ransom his people from all their rebellion.  And he was buried in a borrowed tomb, even as Isaiah foretold.  In doing this Christ defeated all our enemies.  His moment of defeat was our greatest moment of victory.  Sin, Satan, and death has been conquered by our King.  The voluntary, sacrificial atonement, which covers our sin against God has been completed.  Godís wrath has been satisfied.  Christ has won the victory for all those who have faith in him.    

Of course, you may be saying at this point, ďBut how do we know that Christ was victorious?  How do we know that Godís wrath has been satisfied?  How do we know that sin, Satan, and death have been defeated?Ē  Simple, we look to the final stage.

The Fourth stage: the Resurrection (28:1-20)

We know that God has accepted the sacrifice of his Son because He vindicates him through his resurrection.  Indeed, the resurrection is Godís way of saying, ďBehold the victory of my Son, who has done all things in obedience to my will and who will receive all things in the end!!Ē  When those women receive the news of the resurrection, they are receiving confirmation of the finished work of Christ.  When they worship him in the garden, they are the first in the line of many, to worship him as the one who has defeated sin, Satan, and death.  He is the conquering King and his resurrection makes that clear for all to behold.

But this is not the end of the story.  Yes, these events are the pinnacle of history, but they are not the end of history.  In fact, the war is not over.  Because of the resurrection, we know who will ultimately win the war, but until then, there are many battles to be fought.  In fact, the King gives his followers clear instructions as to how they should fight until he returns.  Look at 28:16-20 with me.  The book of Matthew has been leading up to this mission.  The proper response to the victory of the King is to repent of our sins and rebellion, believe in his finished work on the cross, and in light of his glorious resurrection, take the gospel into every hostile place on the earth until all his people are gathered into one.  This is the continuing mission of the Kingdom, done in obedience to and for the glory of the King.

Thus, this morning, shall we not live in light of the victory of our King?  If you are not a Christian this morning, I challenge you to give up following yourself and rebelling against God and turn to follow Christ, the one who voluntarily laid down his life for your sins.  Even as he commands, believe in him and be baptized in his name, the second ordinance of the Church, which is likewise tied directly to the death and resurrection of Christ.  If you are a Christian this morning, I challenge you to stop living life as if you were defeated by sin.  Stop giving in to the temptation because you donít have to, your King has conquered and you are a slave to him and not your sin.  Stop being quiet about the work of Christ.  The world cannot silence the cry of the Church that Jesus is the conquering King.  Thus, in your homes and in your jobs and in all your living, join with the mission of the Kingdom for this age: to boldly make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded.  And in so doing, know this: you go in the authority of the one who has defeated death and has promised to be with you until he returns at the close of this age.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 February 2006 )

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