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Day 248 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Matthew.
Matthew 25 – Jesus instructs His disciples to be ready for His coming at all times. This is the point of the parables in 24:43–25:13, all of which focus both on the uncertainty of the time of Jesus’ coming (24:44, 50; 25:5, 19) and the importance of being busy about doing His will (24:42, 46; 25:4, 16–17, 20–23, 27).
The parable of the talents demonstrates that, despite the sometimes fearful imagery of the preceding parables (24:51), Christians are not to understand them as admonitions to live in fear of His coming (25:25). Instead, they are to make the most of the opportunities and resources God has given them (25:16–17, 20–23, 27; see also Ephesians 5:15–17; Colossians 4:5). The focus is not on one’s level of performance (25:21, 23) but on faithfully and thankfully responding to one’s relationship with God (25:24–25).
What does life look like for those who are handling their Master’s resources faithfully and wisely? Jesus teaches in 25:31–46 that such a life is busy with helping the needy among Jesus’ disciples, “the least of these my brothers” to whom Jesus refers in 25:40. It seems likely that these disciples had been impoverished, lonely, sick, and imprisoned because of their faithfulness in carrying on Jesus’ mission (5:11–12; 10:16–25, 40–42; 24:9). The good works envisioned here are not works by which the righteous have earned a place in God’s kingdom; they are instead the works that arise from a commitment to follow Jesus—the “good fruit” that every “healthy tree” bears (7:17–18).
What does the “fruit” of your life give evidence of where your heart is?
Matthew 26 – The woman’s extravagant generosity in pouring out her “very expensive ointment” on Jesus stands in stark contrast to the greed that drove Judas to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. The condition of one’s heart will reveal itself in one’s actions.
John’s Gospel explains that it was Judas who voiced the disciples’ objection to the woman’s “waste” (John 12:4–5). John then adds that Judas objected because he was a thief, who stole out of the money bag, apparently the common fund that supported Jesus and the disciples and from which they gave to the poor (John 12:6). Given the choice between serving God or money, Judas had chosen money. He proved the truth of Jesus’ teaching that the person who tries to serve two masters “will hate the one and love the other” (6:24).
In contrast, the woman of verse 6–13, whom John’s Gospel identifies as Mary of Bethany (John 12:3), the sister of Martha and Lazarus, made a costly sacrifice to express her devotion to Jesus. She offered a contrast to the rich young ruler (19:22). Jesus, to her, was more valuable than her personal property or financial security.
The first Lord’s Supper was a Passover meal, the meal that, according to the Mosaic law, God’s people should celebrate annually as a reminder that God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. This was the great act of redemption that initiated God’s covenant with Israel through Moses (Exodus 19:4–6). The Lord’s Supper redefined the Passover meal as a celebration of God’s second and greatest act of redemption, through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus’ death atoned for the sins of God’s people up to the time of His coming (Romans 3:25), and the sins of all those who would trust Him for salvation since His coming (Romans 3:26).
Because Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing, His willing sacrifice allowed God both to forgive sinners of their transgressions and to remain just even as He did this (Romans 3:21–26; 4:25; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 3:18). Jesus’ death, then, established a new covenant between God and His people, a covenant whose central focus was the forgiveness of sins and a right relationship with God (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6, 11; see also Jeremiah 31:31–34).
For Believers, God’s establishment of this new covenant of forgiveness and acquittal from sin should result in a joyful freedom from sin’s destructive influence. “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” for us, says Paul. “Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7–8; see also Exodus 12:1–28). In the gospel, we have been freed!
The story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion is also the story of the failure of His disciples to be faithful to Him during this immensely difficult time. When the religious and civic leaders came to arrest Jesus, not only Judas but all the disciples eventually abandoned Him. Despite Peter’s protests of willingness to die for Jesus—protests which all the disciples affirmed—he failed miserably along with them all. They did not have enough compassion toward Jesus even to stay awake with Him during the stressful night of His arrest, and when the crowd arrived to arrest Him, Matthew tells us that all Jesus’ disciples “left Him and fled.” Even Peter, who at least put up an ill-conceived effort to protect Jesus, and followed “at a distance” behind those who had arrested Him, eventually denied that he even knew Jesus.
Jesus knew that His disciples would be faithless, but He offered them the hope of forgiveness and restoration in His comment that, after His resurrection, He would go before them to Galilee. The death to which their unfaithfulness had consigned Him was a death for the forgiveness of this sin also. Both Peter and Judas were sorry for their faithlessness to Jesus (26:75; 27:3–4), but whereas Judas’s sorrow led to despair, Peter and the other disciples sought refuge in Jesus’ offer of restored fellowship (28:7, 10) and His renewed call to service in the kingdom (28:16–20).
There is great hope for sinners in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, and that hope is not only for new disciples of Jesus but for His seasoned followers also. The proper response to sin, however grave it may be, is not despair. It is instead trust in Jesus’ willingness to forgive and restore the sinner to full fellowship with Himself and to useful service in the kingdom. What rich hope for those who want their lives to count for Jesus, yet who are painfully aware of their inadequacy and failures.
How is Jesus living through you to fulfill His purpose right now?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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