Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mallards on a pond in the village of Raspordin

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Oct 13, Mat 26

Today's readings are Mat 26.

With the cross looming large on the horizon, Mat 26 is full of significant events. As time grows short and the plot to kill Him crystallizes (Mat 26:1-5), Jesus' every move and teaching become vital as He imparts His final lessons to His disciples. He knows the end is near.

Jesus emphasizes that time with Him and knowledge of Him are to be the highest priorities in the lives of His followers (Mat 26:5-13). He is to be given priority over all our possessions (the alabaster jar) and everything we do (feed the poor).

He teaches that He has come to serve when He offers bread to the one who would betray Him (Mat 26:17-25).

Jesus reveals that His crucifixion will bring union to His followers in Mat 26:26-29. This soon-to-come union is the overriding lesson of the Last Supper. 

In Mat 26:30-35, He cryptically tells them that they will have neither the depth of commitment nor the courage to follow through until after He dies and rises again (Mat 26:32). His post-resurrection presence and power will ultimately do what they cannot do on their own, transform them into faithful followers that are willing to sacrifice everything for their relationship to Him. As a somber example of how desperately they need this spiritual blessing, at the moment He teaches these things, they can't even stay awake for Him by their own power (Mat 26:45).

His arrest occurs in the deep dark hours of the night while the city sleeps. But Jesus is careful to explain that nothing that occurs is outside of God's plan or beyond His knowledge. All that happens is ordained by God (Mat 26:47-56). God's plan of redemption dictates what will happen, not the will or schemes of men. These evil men are not operating independently of God. Like He used the Chaldeans and Babylonians, God will use these men to bring about His plan for the redemption of His children. The Jewish leaders’ plan to execute Jesus will result in His exaltation. In that exaltation, salvation will come to those who believe in Him (Mat 26:57-75).

Peter's denial only affirms Jesus’s teaching. Peter is unable to follow Him completely and in full surrender of all his fears and concerns. This man who denies Him now will, after Christ rises from the grave, be the one to boldly and without reservation deliver the first gospel sermon ever to a crowded Jerusalem (Act 2:14-39). 

All the transforming power we see in these incidents is available to believers today. The same type of change that occurred in Peter's heart occurs in ours. If you follow Peter's growth and development, you'll find that some of his changes were not immediate but took time and experience to mature. He still stumbled on occasion, but he continued to grow and strengthen in his faith. What Peter had was a strong desire to please the Lord. He had to learn how to do that. It is telling that Peter's first canonical epistle, a theological masterpiece, was not authored until about 60 A.D., some thirty years after the events in the Upper Room. Peter's growth took time. Meanwhile, he had to learn, step by step, how to depend on the power and presence of the resurrected Christ and His Spirit.

We’re much like Peter. The only question we must answer before we can grow is this, “Do I desire to please the Lord (1 The 3:1; Heb 11:6)?” The Father, Son and Holy Spirit take our answer and do the rest. Peter is not an exception, he is a template.  

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