Suggested Scripture Reading: Matthew, Chapter 26 !
Focal Passage: Matthew 26: 45-52
Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.” While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: “The One I kiss, He’s the One; arrest Him!” So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him. At that moment one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear. Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”
One of the most amazing thing’s about our Savior’s love for us is that He knew He would suffer and die…He knew it before time began. There are over 300 prophesies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ— all written centuries ago. Thirty three years of life on earth with one all encompassing goal…to die for us, as the Scriptures foretold. It’s hard for us to put our arms around this kind of love…
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us…1 John 3:16
I think maybe it will help us to understand if we look at the intentionality of it. Let’s examine just a few scriptures that teach us this truth. Do you remember the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane after the last supper? Matthew 26 tells us He had been praying, and when He returned to the disciples He said:
Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!” v. 46
Shortly after that, Matthew goes on to tell how one of the twelve reacted violently and cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest. in the group. The Gospel of John tells us this was Peter. Jesus sharply rebuked him, further revealing His steadfastness toward the goal…
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” v. 52-54
Another area where we see this intentionality is in the repeated trips to Jerusalem, the most dangerous place for Him.
…And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” Mark 10:32-34
It is difficult for me to put my arms around this sheer determination and steadfastness that is not typical of human nature. Our tendency is to run from difficulties, especially those that will cause suffering…we try to avoid them at all costs. I would venture to say even more so when the suffering is unjust. But let’s not forget that although fully human, Jesus did not possess the sin nature that we have. When faced with injustice, He chose not to pursue justice for Himself. He offered His life freely.
For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. John 10:17-18
He knew He would be ridiculed, spat apron, beaten…His beard ripped from His face. He knew He would be nailed to a cross and die a slow agonizing death. Yet He chose to leave His heavenly throne…all for love. The words to the song by Chris Tomlin, “You Are My King”, send chills through my body when I hear it:
“Amazing Love, how can it be That You, my King, would die for me”
It was completely voluntary. He was certainly not subject to the constraint of any mere Human. He was not overtaken by circumstances, there was no surprise…He was in complete control.
This Sunday, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, let’s dwell on the intentionality of it…let’s concentrate on the love a God who “became flesh and dwelt among us”. I pray that as we focus on this amazing love, we will understand what it means TO us and what it should mean THROUGH us.
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15