In Jesus’ Words: The First Lord’s Supper and Forgiveness (Matthew 26:26-30)

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.”  Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.”  After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Matthew 26:26-30

This is the last Passover Jesus has with his disciples, and through this, he transforms the Passover into the first Lord’s Supper.  He is preparing his disciples for what is to come after his death.  Jesus has finished his ministry – there is no more teaching the crowds and performing miracles, no more discussions with the religious people in the synagogues, and no more parables.  He had recently spoken of the end times and the signs of times to come.  As Jesus nears the end of his life, his words began to take on a more serious tone.

I took a glance back through the book of Matthew and noticed that the first part of the book is almost completely covered in red-letters showing Jesus’ words and sermons, but now as I look ahead to the remaining few chapters in Matthew I noticeably see that Jesus’ words become less.  His remaining spoken words are to his disciples and to God.  This last Passover becomes symbolic, not because of its ending but because of new beginnings.  Jesus turns this last Passover into the first Lord’s Supper, and He shows the disciples how to celebrate a new covenant and the blood that is to be shed for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus reveals his purpose – the forgiveness of sins.

I once heard Bishop T.D. Jakes ask someone, “How valuable is it to you to be forgiven?”

The person replied with tears in his eyes, “It is everything.”

In Jesus’ Words: Free Will and Hope – the Betrayal at Passover (Matthew 26:17-25)

People often ask, “Why does God allow evil?”  It could also be asked another way, “Why does God allow people to do evil when He knows ahead of time what people will choose and the outcome of their choices?”  And if a person says they do not believe God knows everything ahead of time, then they would be saying God is not all-knowing and not in control.  I don’t think any of us want to believe or follow a God who is not in control or who can be caught by surprise.  So then the question becomes “Why does an all-knowing and in-control God still allow us to do evil?

The standard answer is usually “free will”, but I believe it’s more than just that.  Free will by itself does not guarantee anything or carry any hope.  It just means you are free to make your own choices, but not necessarily that anyone cares about your choices.  But the all-knowing, in-control God is also a God of mercy, forgiveness, and grace.  God gives everyone a chance – many chances – to do the right thing, to change their hearts, sometimes even to their last dying breath, no matter what they have done in their past.

This is why God allows our actions and choices.  He never gives up hope on any of us that we can change and choose Him.  And that is why in this next story of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, even he was given a chance though Jesus knowingly could have prevented his actions.

~ Matthew 26:17-25  The Betrayal of Jesus at Passover ~

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover so You may eat it?”

“Go into the city to a certain man,” He said, “and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time is near; I am celebrating the Passover at your place with My disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, He was reclining at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, He said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me.”

Deeply distressed, each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”

He replied, “The one who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl—he will betray Me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, His betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

“You have said it,” He told him.

In Jesus’ Words: The Olivet Discourse (End Times Part 1) – Matthew 24

In 2012, it was predicted by some that the world would end on December 21, 2012 according to the end of the Mayan calendar.  It was a big discussion at my workplace, and some people were genuinely concerned.  I spoke up and said rather directly, “The world is not going to end on that day.”  “But how do you know?” came the response from my co-workers.  “Because the Bible says no one knows the day or hour.  If someone is predicting it, you can be certain it is not going to happen then.”

Now, 5 years later, we have completely forgotten about that while we have other concerns – worldly tensions, nuclear threats, disease, persecution, earthquakes.  Just like my co-workers were then, some people may be concerned now.  But the Bible also tells us that “the Good News will be preached to all the world.” (Matthew 24:14)  There is good news and there is hope!  “Those who endure (have faith) will be delivered.” (Matthew 24:13)  And that is what we should remember.  We will all die and face God someday, whether it comes through the end times or not.  The main point Jesus is trying to tell us in his speech about the end times is that we should take our faith seriously, and not be unconcerned or indifferent as they were in Noah’s time.  It is not the sinners that Jesus is directly speaking of here but the hypocrites – those who know better but do nothing. (Matthew 24:51)

~ Matthew 24:  Olivet Discourse Part 1 of 2 – Jesus talks about the end times ~

Destruction of the Temple Predicted

As Jesus left and was going out of the temple complex, His disciples came up and called His attention to the temple buildings. Then He replied to them, “Don’t you see all these things? I assure you: Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!”

Signs of the End of the Age

While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”

Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these events are the beginning of birth pains.

Persecutions Predicted

“Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. 14 This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

The Great Tribulation

15 “So when you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place”, 16 “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! 17 A man on the housetop must not come down to get things out of his house. 18 And a man in the field must not go back to get his clothes.19 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! 20 Pray that your escape may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again! 22 Unless those days were limited, no one would survive. But those days will be limited because of the elect.

23 “If anyone tells you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Over here!’ do not believe it! 24 False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note: I have told you in advance. 26 So if they tell you, ‘Look, He’s in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; ‘Look, He’s in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather.

The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days:

The sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not shed its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the celestial powers will be shaken.

30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

The Parable of the Fig Tree

32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near—at the door! 34 I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.

No One Knows the Day or Hour

36 “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son —except the Father only. 37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. 44 This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Faithful Service to the Messiah

45 “Who then is a faithful and sensible slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time? 46 That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded.47 I assure you: He will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked slave says in his heart, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and starts to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 that slave’s master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In Jesus’ Words: Lamentation over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The city who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will never see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” – Matthew 23:37-39

In the final days of Jesus’ ministry, he expresses his sorrow and immense desire for the repentance of the nation of Israel.  And with this statement, he announces that his public teaching ministry is over – no more arguments with the Pharisees or teaching in the synagogue.  What is about to follow, which we will see in the next chapter of Matthew, is called the Olivet Discourse, where Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives and speaks about the end times.  This was also amazingly predicted by the prophet Ezekiel when he spoke to the Jewish exiles in Ezekiel 11:23: “The glory of the Lord rose up from within the city and stood on the mountains east of the city.” (Mount of Olives)

Jesus ends his lamentation to Israel by quoting from Psalm 118:26:

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

In Jesus’ Words: Questions about the Messiah (Matthew 22:41-46)

If someone truly has ultimate authority, and they know without a doubt who they are, what their mission is, and what the outcome will be, then they do not need to “prove themselves” to anyone.  Politicians prove themselves.  Experts prove themselves.  Even false Messiahs have tried to prove themselves.  God does not need to prove Himself. But He is interested in what we think.

~ Matthew 22:41-46  The Messiah ~

While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?”

“David’s,” they told Him.

He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls Him ‘Lord’:

The Lord declared to my Lord,
‘Sit at My right hand
until I put Your enemies under Your feet'”?

If David calls Him, ‘Lord’, how then can the Messiah be his Son?”

No one was able to answer Him at all, and from that day no one dared to question Him any more.

Most people will agree that a man named Jesus lived around the time of 30 AD.  And history tells us that the Pharisees did everything in their power to kill him.  After the stories of Jesus’ resurrection came to be known and belief in the Messiah was spreading quickly, it seems plausible that those same Pharisees would do everything in their power to find the dead body and shut this down.  After all, if it had been a hoax and Jesus was not the Messiah and Son of God, then there would have been a body. With all the publicity, the Roman guards and the heavy stone in the way, somebody would have seen something, said something, or produced some evidence.  It would have been too big of a story to hide. And eleven disciples would not spend the next 30 years being tortured and martyred for a hoax.

If God is unable to raise someone from the dead, then He is unable to give us eternal life after death.  What do you think?