Reading the Gospels: Matthew, Chapters 25-28

This is the last post for the Gospel of Matthew. Last Friday, we left Jesus at the end of Chapter 24 in the middle of a speech. Chapter 25 picks up right where we left off and He continues His description to the disciples of the sign of His coming and the “end of the age.”

Chapter 26

When Jesus wraps up the speech, he turns to his disciples and says,

“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

The elders and chief priests are plotting how to take and kill Jesus, but decide to wait until after the feast to prevent a riot. Jesus goes to the house of Simon in Bethany where a woman pours very expensive oil on his head. The disciples are angry at the waste, but Jesus tells them to calm down, that the woman has “done a good work for me…shed did it to prepare me for burial.”

Judas Iscariot then goes to the chief priests and says,

“What are you willing to give me, that I should deliver him to you?”

The chief priests give him 30 pieces of silver. From the moment the silver hits his hands, Judas is looking for the right opportunity to betray Him.

The 12 disciples and Jesus then go to a house to eat the Passover. As they are eating in the evening, Jesus drops the bombshell:

“Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray me.”

All the disciples are sorrowful and ask in turn, “it isn’t me, is it, Lord?” Even Judas asks, “it isn’t me, is it, Rabbi?” And Jesus replies “You said it.” You’ll note that the other 11 disciples address Jesus as “Lord,” and Judas addresses Him as “Rabbi.”

As they’re eating, Jesus gives his disciples bread and says,

“Take, eat; this is my body.”

And then passes the cup and says,

“All of you drink it, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins.”

They sing a hymn and the head out to the Mount of Olives. Jesus tells them that they will stumble because of Him and that after He is raised up, he will go before them into Galilee. Peter states that he will never stumble and Jesus answers:

“Most certainly I tell you that tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”

Jesus then goes to Gethsemane and is troubled. He asks Peter and others to watch over Him as He prays:

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch with me.”

As Jesus prays, he sees the disciple-lookouts asleep. He goes, prays, and returns three times and each time the disciples are sleeping. Finally he says:

“Sleep on now, and take your rest. Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, let’s be going. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand.”

Judas appears with a huge crowd holding swords and clubs. He tells them “Whoever I kiss, he is the one. Seize him.” He then goes up to Jesus with a “Hail, Rabbi!” and kisses him. The crowd comes and takes Jesus. One of those with Jesus pulls out a sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus tells him to put the sword away. The disciples then all take off.

Jesus is then taken away to Calaphas, the high priest. The scribes and elders are all gathered together. Peter follows at a distance and then sits to watch. The priests seek false testimony against Jesus. False witnesses come and go. Finally one says, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.’” The priests ask Jesus to reply, but He holds His peace. They ask him whether He is Christ, the Son of God. Jesus answers:

“You have said it. Nevertheless, I tell you, after this you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of the sky.”

The high priest goes nuts, tears his clothing and cries “blasphemy.” The others believe this blasphemy is “worthy of death.” Then they spit in Jesus’ face, and beat Him with their fists. Outside, Peter is hearing and watching. Three times, people come up to him and ask him if he was with Jesus, and three times Peter says,

“I don’t know the man!”

The rooster crows. And Peter weeps bitterly.

Chapter 27

In the morning, the chief priests decide to put Jesus to death. They bind him and take him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. Judas feels remorse and returns the 30 pieces of silver, departs, and hangs himself. The priests take the silver and buy the potter’s field to bury strangers in. That field is known for evermore as “The Field of Blood.”

The governor asks Jesus if He is the King of the Jews. Jesus answers,

“So you say.”

When the priests and elders accuse him, He says nothing. Pilate marvels. It is a custom during the feast for a governor to release one prisoner to the multitude. The choice is between Jesus and Barabbas. While the judgement is still in question, Pilate’s wife says,

“Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”

The priests persuade the crowd to ask for Barabbas’s release. Pilate asks what he should do with Jesus, and the crowd yells, “Let him be crucified!” Pilate is troubled. He washes his hands before the multitude and says,

“I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. You see to it.”

The people answer:

“May his blood be on us, and on our children.”

Jesus gets flogged. They strip Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. They braid a crown of thorns and put it on His head. Then they kneel down before Him and mock, “Hail, King of the Jews!” before spitting on Him and hitting Him with a reed.

They then take Jesus to Golgotha (“the place of a skull”) and give him sour wine to drink mixed with gall. Then they crucify Him. They divide up His clothing and sit and watch. They put a sign up over his head that says, “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS”. Two robbers were also crucified, one on His left and one on His right. People walk by and mock Him:

“He saved others, but he can’t save himself. If he is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe him.”

The robbers on either side also mock Jesus. At the ninth hour, Jesus cries out:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One of the watchers takes a sponge, fills it with vinegar, and puts it on a reed for Jesus to drink. Jesus cries again and yields up His spirit. Immediately, the veil of the temple is torn, and an earthquake begins, opening up rocks and tombs–many of the bodies of the saints were raised. The centurion on watch is terrified and says,

“Truly this was the Son of God.”

Many women watched, including Mary Magdalene. Joseph goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body. Joseph takes the body, wraps it in clean linen, and lays it in a new tomb which had been cut out of solid rock. He rolls a big stone across the door of the tomb and departs.

The priests then gather together in front of Pilate and say,

“Sir, we remember what that deceiver said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise again.’”

They ask that the tomb be guarded so that Jesus’ disciples can’t steal the body and claim that Jesus rose–the “last deception will be worse than the first.” So they go with a guard and seal the tomb.

Chapter 28

On the third morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to visit the tomb. When they arrive, an earthquake shakes and rolls the stone away from the door. An angel of the Lord descends from the sky and sits on the stone. The guards are petrified. The angel tells the two women:

“Don’t be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, who has been crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, just like he said. Come, see the place where the Lord was lying. Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead, and behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold I have told you.”

The women run off to tell the disciples and Jesus meets them. He says,

“Don’t be afraid, Go tell my brothers that they should go into Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The elders hear what happen and bribe some soldiers with silver into saying that Jesus’ disciples came and stole him away while everyone slept. The soldiers take the money and do as they’re told.

The 11 remaining disciples then go to Galilee and see Jesus. They bow down to him, but some are still doubtful. Jesus says to them:

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

And that’s the end of the Gospel of Matthew.

We’ll take a break next week and then tackle the first four chapters of Mark the following week.

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