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Day 249 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Matthew. Well done!
Matthew 27 – Only Matthew records Judas’s feelings of remorse and his attempt to return the blood money. Judas experienced feelings of regret, but this is less than “repentance,” which involves a change of thinking which leads to a change of action and attitude. Judas hanged himself rather than face his crushing guilt.
Since blasphemy is not a charge worthy of the death penalty under Roman rule, the Jewish leaders restate the charges when they hand Jesus over to Pilate (compare Luke 23:2). A claim to kingship would be a direct challenge to Caesar.
Roman beatings were a terribly cruel punishment. Those condemned were tied to a post and beaten with a leather whip interwoven with pieces of bone and metal, which tore through skin and tissue, often exposing bones and intestines. In many cases, the beating itself was fatal.
As Matthew tells of the crucifixion, he focuses on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the suffering servant (Isaiah 42:1–4; 52:13–53:12) as well as Jesus’ own predictions of His death (Matthew 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–19; 26:2).
The Jewish historian Josephus mentions thousands of people crucified in first-century Palestine, mostly during rebellions against Rome. Crucifixion was considered the worst form of execution, due to the excruciating pain and public shame. Hanging suspended by one’s arms eventually caused great difficulty in breathing. Only pushing up with one’s feet to take the weight off the arms could lessen the lack of breath. But that motion itself caused severe pain, forcing the exhausted victim to slump down again. Eventually, the victim would suffocate or die from the physical trauma.
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? Jesus quotes Psalm 22:1, speaking in Aramaic, the everyday language of His time. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? In some sense Jesus had to be cut off from the favor of and fellowship with the Father that had been His eternally. He was bearing the sins of His people and therefore enduring God’s wrath (see Isaiah 53:6, 10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 John 2:2). And yet, in quoting Psalm 22:1 Jesus probably has in mind the remainder of the psalm as well, which moves on to a cry of victory (Psalm 22:21–31). And, He expresses faith by calling God “my God.” He knows why He is dying, for this was the purpose of His coming to earth (see Matthew 16:21; 20:18–19, 28). His cry, uttered with a loud voice, is not expressing bewilderment at His situation. It is to tell the bystanders, and through them the world, that He was experiencing God-forsakenness for the salvation of others.
The curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was an elaborately woven fabric 60 feet (18 m) high and 30 feet (9 m) wide. No one was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place except the high priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:2–7). Torn in two signifies the removal of the separation between God and the people.
Over time, I believe “Jesus died for me” becomes a relatively benign idea for us. It becomes too common, and we forget the brutality that Jesus endured on our behalf.
Take a some time and reflect on all that Jesus endured for your (and my) sin. In remembering clearly the grotesque reality of your sin, how does it lead you to thank Jesus for taking your deserved punishment upon Himself, setting you truly free?
Matthew 28 – Jesus’ disciples are now commissioned to make disciples in all people groups. Matthew has shown throughout his Gospel that the kingdom of God crosses all social boundaries, so it is not surprising that Jesus sends His disciples to “all nations.” Jesus’ royal authority extends to the whole universe, and the disciples, through their disciple making, are to extend Jesus’ authority everywhere (see also Romans 15:8–15; Ephesians 2:11–22; 3:7–10; Revelation 5:6–14; 7:9–12; 21:23–26).
Disciple making involves two basic tasks: baptizing and teaching. Baptizing includes the proclamation of the gospel of God’s kingdom and the call to repentance from sin and faith in Jesus (Matthew 3:6, 11). Water baptism symbolizes the inward cleansing that God effects when people turn from their sins and turn in faith to God for forgiveness of their sins in Jesus (3:14–15; see also Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3; 1 Peter 3:21). “Teaching” involves instructing and reminding people who they are in Jesus (their new identity). The same Gospel that brings us to our relationship with Jesus is the same Gospel that sustains our relationship.
The order of these two elements of discipleship is important. People do not become disciples of Jesus by obeying His commandments in order to win His acceptance. They have His acceptance as a free gift, when they come to Him in faith (Romans 3:21–22, 24; 5:1–2). Jesus’ disciples joyfully follow and reflect Jesus as a result of God’s transformation of their hearts through the proclamation of the Gospel (Romans 6:12–14).
Seeing the reality of what Jesus has done for us in chapter 27, how does that lead you to want to share the good news with those around you (make disciples)?
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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