Friday, February 01, 2008

Thoughts on two chapters of Matthew's Gospel

Chapter 26 of Matthew is certainly action-packed.

The plot against Jesus takes shape; Jesus is anointed with perfume; Judas agrees to betray Him; Jesus and His disciples eat the Passover meal; Jesus prays in Gethsemane, is arrested, and put on trial; Peter denies Jesus.

Yet behind all the human activity, are many hints of the deeper divine purpose now reaching its climax: Jesus’ death is the new, greater Passover; prophecy is being fulfilled; news of Jesus’ death and burial will spread throughout the world. His resurrection is also implied here. Jesus was anointed before His burial (verses 12 & 13): there would be no chance to anoint Him afterwards, as was customary! (See Mark 16:1).

The commotion of this chapter is followed by the comparative stillness of chapter 27.

Two figures hang from two trees: Judas and Jesus. The question Matthew’s Gospel leads us all to is this: when all our human controversies, concerns, eating, drinking, words, boasts, denials, failures, prayer and prayerlessness are done – which figure will we identify with? Will we be found to place our trust in Jesus who dies for us, or will we go our own way, a way that leads inevitably to our own death?

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