We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week, Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week.
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written “‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[a 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. Matthew 26:31-35.
1. Judas. A study in Utter Rejection of Jesus. Imagine if you can, the disciples traveling with Jesus for 3 years, with various responsibilities. Judas the treasurer of the group, trusted with the financial resources of the disciples. Yet, it was Judas who humanly fulfilled the prophecy ‘I will strike the shepherd’. And his betrayal is revealed publically to the disciples but in acts of mercy, he is not cast out of the group nor the last hours of association with Jesus. Amazing.
2. Peter. A Study in Failure and Recovery. The second revelation is predicting again Peter’s denial of Jesus. Now one of the leaders of the disciples – the one on whom was the Rock, and the Church would be built – would deny he knew Jesus not once, but three times. What was left for the disciples to rely on?
3 .All the Disciples – Will Fall Away. Talk about a failed enterprise. The three years of Jesus teaching and ministering to the crowds was seemingly having no effect nor lasting work. The leader shortly to die. The disciples ALL scattering. The shepherd is killed, the sheep are ALL scattered. While the disciples will later form the foundation of the church, for now, the focus is only and ultimately back to Jesus and the cross.
This passage speaks about commitment and priorities. It illustrates that even during hard times Jesus asks that we follow Him. We may not understand fully, but we can trust him who has gone before us. No better harbor of safety. Blessings to you this week. Be encouraged that we are better than the failures that mark out life as we know it.
17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.. Hebrews 2:17-18.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6.
We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Yet in this impending crisis, again, a woman, Mary, comes to worship Jesus sacrificially.
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:10-13.
1. Jesus’ Death Again Predicted. On three other occasions, Jesus has predicted his death. Now he predicts it with the added detail of crucifixion. This should have horrified the disciples, but asked from the details of the plot of Jesus’ enemy to falsely accuse and kill him, the disciples are left to dispute and squabble in these final hours. They were indignant. Really! Their indignation should have been for the soon coming of the cross, not a sacrificial act of worship.
2. Again, the Female Follows of Jesus Better Understood the Scope of His Message. Jesus has again predicted his death, now by the savagery of the cross. Martha and Mary, of the household of Simon (John 12), come to serve and worship him. In this, Mary took what was undoubtedly the best of what she had – an alabaster jar of expensive perfume – and poured it over the head of Jesus, in worship, understanding what was coming for her Lord.
3. Jesus’ Correction and Affirmation. Even in this last week, the named disciples were in confusion. What was coming? How were they to react? What was the purpose of the Passover? Jesus affirms the worship of Mary. Wherever the gospel is preached, throughout the world, what she has been done will be told in memory of her.
No better commendation or memorial. What a life epitaph! An act of worship that becomes praiseworthy worldwide. This certainly is a climactic act of worship that says the following – the greatest acts of worship are to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul and mind. And remembering the woman who ended up at the empty tomb, and then went everywhere telling those around them that He is Risen! Loving your neighbor as yourself. These are the two great acts of worship and commendation that summarize all of the Law and the Prophets. The greatest of approval by God. The point: no sacrifice is too great in our worship of Jesus, what we have, what we are. Best to you this week.
We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back? And what will be the ones who are counted as great in the Kingdom? Jesus has taught about the acceptance or exclusion of the virgins at the wedding. He has taught of the parable of the talents, recommending that we use what God has given us for eternity. Now he teaches about the sheep and the goats – those included or excluded from the Kingdom or hell.
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:40-46.
1. First the Prediction. When Jesus the King returns, Every Person will Give an Accounting of His or Her Life, First ordained by God.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Matthew 25:34.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10.
The good news is that we are not left to our own devices or energies or planning as following Jesus. Redemption leads to good works. And those good works are established for us from eternity past, only now for us to be faithful in completing. The start of our lives – salvation, and now discipleship – is from God, not from our own. And this start was before the creation of the world!
2. Second, the Promise. God will Reward the Faithful, Those who are Least Among Us.
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:26-27.
Just as Jesus taught repeatedly about the care for the least in the Kingdom, for the child who is brought to Him, for the sick, the lame, the frightened and confused, so now those who care for the least, for those who seemingly have no claim to the attention or care of God – those will be the great ones in the Kingdom. Those with the least position to request from us – the widows and the orphans – are the exact definition of religion that is pure and faultless. Amazing!
3. Third, The Warning. Hell is Real. In the end, There Will be Two Groups of People – the Sheep, the Redeemed and Rewarded; and the Goats, the Ones Who have Rejected Jesus, and will Spend Eternity in Hell and Punishment.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Matthew 25:31-33.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. Luke 16:22-23.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20.
These two classes of people will have no excuse, since ‘what may be known about God is plain to them.’ Hell, also called Hades or Gehenna, is real. It is a place of separation from God, where people are in eternal torment or punishment. Though not a popular topic, understandably, it is a real place, taught in the Old Testament and the New Testament. of punishment for those who reject God.
The critic of God would say, that is not fair? But this text says the opposite. Every man and woman who has or will live has a chance to see the grace and revelation of God, and to accept or reject it. Our lives reflect our values. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Jesus return will finally and completely acknowledge the reality of two classes of people – the ones who chose the narrow path and saw Jesus and His message and accepted it, and the ones who chose the broad path, rejecting God, to their own demise and destruction.
No wonder that Jesus taught these critical truths in the last hours of his life. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10. God’s best to you this week. We are now two days from the cross, and with these teachings, Jesus’ enemies are gathering to plot his death.
Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him. Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back? And now, the sequel question, who is He coming for, how will we be held accountable for our lives?
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:26-30.
1. Each One Given from God According to our Ability. The start of life is fairness and generosity, from God to us. At the onset, it is described as ‘according to his ability." The 5 talents, the 2 talents, the 1 talent. No fault given for differing ability. Rather an expectation that we will do well with what we are given. At the start, from God, to us, fairness, generosity, and expectation of living our lives in a productive manner.
2. The Blame Game. To the first two servants, praise for doing something productively with what was given to each of them. Bot to the third, who sat and hid, and no production, the blame game – ‘you are a hard man’… resulting in his fear and doing nothing.
3. Proof of Lives Well Lived is in the Results Produced by that Life. The third servant’s true motivation and wasted opportunities in life came out. You wicked, lazy servant, not even a little effort or wisdom, resulting in losses of what he was hoarding and trying to protect.
What is the application? The parable of the talents meaning is that Jesus is coming back. It might seem like he is delayed. Not coming back. But he is. One day the King will return, and we will be held accountable for how we have used what God has given us. So what are our talents or entrustments – what everyone has:
There it is! These are talents we all have. This is our spiritual investment portfolio. Rather than blaming God, retreating in fear, using all of these as opportunities to invest in eternity. For two reasons: because of our love for Jesus, who is coming back; and because we will all give an account of how we have done with what we have. Amazing truths. God’s best to you this week. Third and final parable, on the sheep and the goats, next week, telling us how to live in light of eternity. Blessings.