Matthew Chapter 26

Jesus Anointed at Bethany: 
(Read Matthew 26:1-16)
Jesus made a final prediction of His death two days before the Passover.  The feast of the Passover was celebrated to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. This was great annual feast, and it was followed by the seven-day feast of Unleavened Bread.   Christ’s death was the fulfillment of Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). The high priest and religious leaders potted to arrest and kill Jesus. But they did not do that during the Passover, lest there be an uproar among the people.  God controlled even the timing so that Christ could die at the very hour of the slaying of the Passover lamb.  Meanwhile Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper where Mary anointed Jesus with very costly ointment.  This incident is mentioned in Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-8.  Simon the leper was most probably healed by Christ.  It was a thanksgiving service where Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus were present. Mary expressed her lavish gratitude by anointing the head of Jesus with the very expensive ointment.  Usually, it was saved for her wedding or funeral. She found Jesus more valuable than her financial security. This ointment costs three hundred Denarii.  This was equal to the wage of a person’s three hundred day’s work.  Judas Iscariot thought that Mary’s generous gift was a waste, and she could have sold it and given to the poor.  He was a thief.  Jesus rebuked Judas and said “Mary has done this to prepare me for the burial. Truly wherever the Gospel is preached, what she has done will be told in memory of her”.  What a contrast; Judas’ greed led him to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver, but Mary’s devotion drove her to worship Christ. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, he will hate the one and love the other” (Matthew 6:24).     
Jesus Celebrates Passover with Disciples:  
(Read Matthew 26:17-35)
Jesus shared the final Passover meal with his disciples. At this meal Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me”.  They were exceedingly sorrowful and asked “Lord is it I?   It seems the entire disciples feared the possibility of failure.  Jesus said, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me”.  Also, He added “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born”.  Judas asked “Is it I Rabbi?  Jesus said to him “You have said so”.  At this meal Jesus established the Lord’s Supper. Jesus took the bread, blessed, and broke and gave it to his disciples and said “Take, eat; this is my body”.   Also, He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying “Drink from it, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I will not drink wine again until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29). Then they sang a hymn and went out to the mount of Olives. The bread and wine were only symbols. They remind us of Lord’s death and the cost of our redemption (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25).  They don’t contain any special grace or sacrament. Nothing in the gospel indicates that they are necessary for one’s salvation.  Jesus sealed the new covenant with his blood.  He is the lamb of God who takes the sin of the world. The new covenant is not an agreement between two equals, but the covenant God made for the benefit of us.  Christ shed His blood for the remission of our sins.  Jesus did something we could not do for ourselves (Romans 5:8).  Jesus predicted peter’s denial. Jesus said Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows. Peter said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you”.   All the disciples said the same thing.   They all abandoned Jesus before his death.
Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane: 
(Read Matthew 26:36-56)
Then Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane with his disciples. Gethsemane means “Olive press”.  The scene in this garden is one of the most moving one.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John further into the garden. He said, “My soul is very sorrowful and troubled, even to death, remain here and pray with me” (Psalms 43:5).   He fell on his face and prayed saying “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, not as I will but as you will”.   Jesus came to the disciples and found them sleeping.  He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour?” The disciples slept due to their physical exhaustion. Jesus said to them “Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation.  The second time, Jesus went away and prayed “My Father if this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done”. Again, he found the three disciples sleeping. The third time Jesus went away and prayed.  Then he came to the disciples and found them still sleeping. He said to them “Sleep and take your rest, “Behold the hour is at hand, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going, see, my betrayer is at hand”. The disciple failed to stay awake with Jesus during the most stressful night of his life.  The religious leaders have sent a mob with swords and club to arrest the Prince of peace. Judas promised them prearranged signal. “The one I kiss is the Jesus; arrest him”.  Judas came to Jesus “Greeting, Teacher and he kissed him”.  Jesus said to Judas “My friend, go ahead and do what you came to do”.  Peter made a desperate effort to protect Jesus by slashing off the ear of the high priest’s servant.  Jesus healed the servant by replacing his ear. His name was Malchus (John 18:10).  Jesus rebuked Peter and said “Those who take sword shall perish by the sword.  Jesus did not come to wage a war with sword. He secured victory over Satan and sin by his sacrificial death on the cross. He could have called twelve legions of angel to aid him.  Each Roman legion has six thousand soldiers. Jesus willingly obeyed the Father and fulfilled the scriptures.  All his disciples forsook Jesus and fled. 
Jesus before the Sanhedrin: 26: 57-75.  
(Read Matthew 26:57-75)
Jesus was led to Caiaphas, the high priest.  The religious leaders were assembled there.  Peter followed Jesus at a distant.  They tried to find fault with Jesus and forced false witnesses to testify against Jesus. Finally, two men said, “This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days”.  Jesus remained silent before them.  At the trial the high priest asked Jesus whether or not he is “the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63).   Jesus said “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven”.   It was a reference to Christ’s ascension and second coming.  Then the high priest tore his robes and said “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need?”  The Jewish court sentenced Jesus to death (Matthew 26:66).  Then they violently abused and mocked Jesus (Matthew 26:67-68).  Peter’s three denials occurred during the trial.  Peter followed Jesus at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest.  He sat and warmed himself by the fire prepared by the servants of the priests. His first denial was before a servant girl and said, “I don’t know what you are talking about”.   Then in the porch Peter was confronted by another maid and said, “this fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth”. This time Peter denied Jesus with an oath and said, “I do not know the man”. Third time he was confronted by the bystanders and said “You must be one of them. We can tell by your Galilean accent”. The Peter said, “I swear by God, I don’t know the man”.  And immediately the rooster crowed.  Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him.  Luke says, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61).  Peter went out and wept bitterly.  This did not stop Jesus from being merciful to Peter.  Jesus restored Peter. Our failures are not obstacles for Christ to forgive and use us if we are willing to repent. What a gracious Lord!

Matthew Chapter 25

The Parable of the Ten Virgins:
(Read Matthew 25:1-13)
Jesus continues to prepare his disciples so that thy will be ready for his return. This parable explains the need of personal preparation for the return of Christ. These virgins are the attendants at the wedding. The bride of Christ is the church.  John the Baptist is the best friend.  Jesus prepares the believers for his return. The timing of his return is unpredictable. Therefore, those who are wise keep themselves ready for Christ’s coming. The “lamps” seems to refer to the readiness of the believers. The oil speaks of the Holy Spirit. While the bridegroom tarried, all ten virgins lay down to sleep.  The five foolish virgins had no oil in their lamps.  This is the picture of unprepared professing Church. The five wise virgins with oil in their lamps speak of personal readiness for the eminent return of Christ.  People are saved by personal commitment to Christ and not by lineage or by good works. False profession will not save anyone.  This parable is given to warn the believers and not to paralyze us with fear.  The believers must remain ready to receive Christ always.  Though warnings are not pleasant, they are important and necessary for our readiness.  Christians should be eager for the return of Christ, making ourselves ready as we wait. Be prayerful and watchful. 
The Parable of the Talents:
(Read Matthew 25:14-30)
This parable is emphasizing the need of faithfulness in Christian service.  Christ distributes talents according to ability (Matthew 25:15).  “Far country” indicates the time between Jesus’ first coming and his return. Not all are expected to produce the same results. The believers should live in anticipation of Christ’s return and make use of every opportunity to serve God. They should not serve to impress people but for the glory of God.  We are saved to serve Christ. The great mistake of the unfaithful servant was that he misjudged the character of his Master.  He failed to understand the generosity of his Master.  Those who are faithful in their service will be commended by the Lord (Revelation 22:12).  They will hear from the Lord “Well done good and faithful servants”. Those who are slothful and unprofitable will be cast into darkness. True believers will serve the Lord faithfully. They get involved in witnessing and in church growth.  They will be prayerful and watchful.  The faithful service includes helping people who are in need. Their life bears the fruit of love which is the mark of true discipleship. 
The Final Judgment:
(Read Matthew 25:31-46)
Christ will return in glory and power to judge the world. This is not the white throne judgment.  He will judge the nations that survived the tribulation. Christ will separate the sheep from the goats.  Christ will say to the sheep on the right hand “Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”.  The basis of their acceptance is how they treated Israel during the tribulation period.  Christians should help others in need. Those who are saved during this period will enter the Millennial Kingdom and share its blessings.  The Goats on the left hand represent the gentile nations who failed to support Israel during the tribulation period. They will be cast into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons (Matthew 25:41). Christ’s return is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). Are you ready for the return of Christ by receiving him as your Lord?

Matthew Chapter 24

Jesus Foretells the Future:  
(Read Matthew 24:1-31)
In chapter 24 and 25 we have Jesus’ last discourse known as the Olivet Discourse. This message includes the prediction of the fall of Jerusalem and signs of the end time. Jesus left the Temple and went to the mount of Olivet. His disciples came to him and asked Jesus three questions.  “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age”.   The entire discourse is the answer to these three questions. The key to interpreting this passage rests on ones’ view of the gospel and the church. The signs of the end time are general characteristics of the present age. These are followed by more specific signs of the Tribulation period and the return of Christ (Matthew 24:13-26). Jesus warns that believers should not be led astray by false prophets. Many will come in Christ’s name.  The religious deception will go from bad to worse (Matthew 24:4-5). There will be war and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-7).  Natural disasters will be intensified. The believers will face severe persecution (Matthew 24:9-13). Because of the increase of sin, the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). The gospel will be preached throughout the whole world (Matthew 24:14).  It will be a time of great horror. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come.  Unless the time is shortened the entire human race will be destroyed. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s elect. The false Christ and prophets will perform miracles and try to deceive even the elect. Though believers suffer, there is no need to fear because God is our source of strength. Their suffering cannot be compared to the glory that will soon be revealed (Romans 8:18). Then Christ will return to establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth.  Many Scholars believe that first, Christ will come in the cloud for the church, then he returns with the church to judge the world (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).    
Signs of the coming of the Son of Man:   
(Read Matthew 24:32-51)
This passage gives the importance of being ready for the coming of Christ.  His return will be marked by the signs of great power and glory.  These signs will be intensified and become frequent before Christ’s return. He will send his angels to gather the elect from the ends of the earth. The fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel.  When its branches become tender and puts out its leaves, the summer is near.  Some view the fig tree as Israel’s budding in the last days as a nation.  Prior to the return of Christ, sin will grow worse. The last days began with the church and continue today.  Do not speculate the day of Christ’s return because only the Father knows it (Acts 1:7).  But it will be like the days of Noah.  Before the flood, people become casual and indifferent toward the coming judgment. Some would be taken, and others will be left out for judgment. Some scholars consider this as rapture of the church. This section ends with a warning. “Therefore, be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).  The Parable of two servants shows how serious their responsibility is. They must be always ready because Christ can return at any time. Blessed is the servant who will be found alert and serving the master faithfully.  The wicked servant will be judged and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who are faithful and watchful will never regret about the hardship they endure and staying ready for the Master’s return.  Christians should wait eagerly for the return of Christ. 

Matthew Chapter 23

Jesus Warns the Religious Leader:
(Read Matthew 23:1-15)
Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of religious leaders in this chapter. He wanted his disciples to benefit from this warning.  The Scribes and Pharisees were scholars of the Law.  Because of their learning, they held position of authority and influence in the society.  They burdened people with religious duties, but they never practiced them.  They loved to be honored by others.  They sought prominent seats in the synagogues and feasts. They enjoyed being called Rabbi. Jesus said, “They neither enter the kingdom of God nor allow others to enter in”.  They are religious hypocrites. Jesus said, “Don’t ever let anyone address you “Rabbi”.  You are all on the same level as brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t address anyone “Father” because only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.  There is only one Master, the Christ.  “The greatest among you shall be your servant”.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Godly leadership will seek to serve others. There is nothing deadlier in the church than a prideful attitude.  Self-serving attitude will ruin the church. 
The Danger of Hardheartedness:   
(Read Matthew 23:16-39) 
Jesus condemns the religious leaders for their hypocrisy.  Though they knew the law they neglected justice, mercy, and faith.  They hardened their hearts toward God. They were greedy and self-indulgent. Jesus said, “they are like whitewashed tombs”.  Beautiful on the outside but filled with impurity inside.  Outwardly they look upright but inwardly their hearts filled with hypocrisy. Is it not the condition of the church today?  They say, “We never would have killed the prophets”.  In saying that, they accused themselves of being the descendants of those who murdered the prophets (2 Chronicles 24:20-21).  Jesus said, “They will never escape the coming judgment”.  Jesus teaches that our devotion toward God must flow from a sincere heart. Christians should never desire the praise of others. They should find their ultimate security in God rather than in earthly riches. Someone has said “Significance in life comes only by service”.  Religious leaders turned the house of God into a den of thieves. They failed to seek the weightier matters of the law. Jesus denounced these religious leaders.  Jesus sorrowed over Jerusalem. He loved Israel and wanted to protect them like a hen gathering her chicks under her wings.  But they rejected Him.  Their Temple will be left empty and desolate. They would not see Christ until they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Zechariah 9:9; 12:10).  This is a reference to Christ’s second coming. Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?