Keep watch…

Have we been let down when we needed the support of our circle?  Have we  found ourselves trusting and depending upon something that is man-made?  Have we made promises and intended to help others and failed to follow through?  Where is our focus? 

Matthew 26:36-46 

 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away  unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

 

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Mat&c=26&t=NLTP&x=7&y=6>

Anguished and distressed; signs of the inner turmoil that Jesus is experiencing  He makes a request of his followers to help him pray at this time.  “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He then makes a request of the Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him finishing with words indicating obedience; “Your will be done.”

The followers sleep and show us the failings of mankind.  They voice their intentions, they want to support and intend to, but sleep overcomes them, they experience failure.  Jesus is experiencing the weakness in mankind through the failings of others but also within his own body.  He knows everything we go through because He has been there.   Many times “the spirit is willing but the body weak.”    Where do we want to place our trust?  Like Christ, return to the Father, we can place our trust in the source of power that is able to carry us through anything.

Three times Jesus prays to have the cup removed and three times he returns to obedience and states “Your will be done.”  He is not losing sight of His mission, His purpose and His allegiance.  He knows who He is and what He can do.  Jesus came to terms with the pending agony of His mission.  He demonstrated for us obedience in all things through dependence on the Father.  He had purpose, resolve, commitment and focus.  We can realize that mankind’s intentions are no match for God’s provision.   “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. ”  Keep watch, keep focus, remember who He is and who we are, what He can do and what we can do through Christ, keep the Word of God alive and active in us.

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Listen…

Matthew 26:31-35

On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,

‘God will strike the Shepherd,

and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”

Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

“No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same

Pasted from <http://nlt.scripturetext.com/matthew/26.htm

This conversation takes place on the way to the Mount of Olives, after the last supper for the Passover.  The situation is heating up.  Even when we know after three years of evidence, Christ knows…we deny.  Still that way?  Think so.  How many times has the Spirit shown you something, something obvious, right in front of you, and you don’t see the tree for the forest.

This event in Peter’s life may have done more to cement Him to Christ than anything.  He will remember this conversation, replay it many times.

Take away – Christ knew, Christ knows; could we be so arrogant to decide differently?

It’s about attitude and humility.  In a time when they could have shown great support, they are about to fail.  When we allow attitude and pride to rise up and rule, we are rendered useless to the Spirit’s work.  Elsewhere the Word says, walk humbly with your God.  Recognize place, recognize truth, regardless of the position given by mankind, receive from the Lord what He says and walk accordingly.  Allow yourself to be shaped to listen, understand and then act, in that order. 

This was prophecy to be fulfilled.  If we find ourselves in similar situations what can we do differently?  Can we ask what do you want me to do?  In the disciples’ weaknesses Christ became strong.  He established His authority with finality.  In our weaknesses will we allow Him to be strong and establish His authority over and through us? 

After I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.  Words of confidence and assurance.  They were missed in the moment but remembered later.  We can tap into that confidence and rest in that assurance, they are characteristics of Christ and who He is, they can be ours as well.  We know who He is and what He does, we can know who He says we are and what He says we can do.  Let the Word of God be alive and active in you.

The power of remembering…

Matthew 26:17-29

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’”

So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table  with the twelve disciples. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me.

For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”  And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Pasted from <http://nlt.scripturetext.com/matthew/26.htm>

Have you ever been in denial of what was happening right before you?  Have you weathered a storm and looking back realized there were warnings of what was to come?  The disciples are being forewarned of the events to come.  Later they remembered and had greater understanding of what was happening.

These last moments together become precious to them and are the basis for our remembering what Christ has done for us when we participate in communion.  Passover is a time of remembering that period of change, redemption and reliance on God for salvation from the oppression of Egypt.  So too, this last supper has become a time of remembering another time of change, redemption and reliance on God.  For those of us who choose to leave our ‘Egypt,’ the secular worldview, and rely on Christ’s sacrifice for us to bring us into a new world view, one based on His Word and made possible through His self-less act, sacrificial act of redemption on the cross, this sharing of bread and wine becomes the basis for communion, an act of remembering our journey from sin and its wages  to salvation and its promise.

The question remains:  Do you know who God is, what He can do and who He says you are and what He says you can do?

True worth…

Matthew 26:6-13
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating,  a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

 Pasted from <http://nlt.scripturetext.com/matthew/26.htm>

Jesus was approachable.  This woman was able to come in while he was eating and pour the perfume over his head.  Christ states this is symbolic of preparing his body for burial.  The type of death he was to suffer would not allow the usual anointing of the body with perfumes and oils.  Also, it was expensive.  Expensive enough it got the attention of the disciples and they commented on it.  It shows a self-less act of giving, an act of honor that is acknowledged by the Lord.  He places enough importance upon it to state it will be remembered and indeed that is why we still read of it. 

What are the implications for us?  We just read of those who gave to others in need and He said it was the same as giving to Him.  We do not have Him physically present to give to, but we can do as she did, we can show honor to Him in our giving to those around us who cross our paths. 

 She heard him tell of his impending death and believed.  Do we read in the scriptures the warnings He gives and believe.  Do our actions indicate belief?  Do we criticize the actions of others as the disciples did?  Or can we rejoice in the self-less giving of others without judgment? 

What was the purpose of the perfume when in her possession?  For her own consumption?  She gave something she had of worth and demonstrated her focus on what had true value to her.  Does the Lord hold the same degree of worth for us?  How is it demonstrated in our lives?

Fear?…no, Victory!

Matthew 26:1–5

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples,

“As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him.

“But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

 

Pasted from <http://nlt.scripturetext.com/matthew/26.htm>

Jesus knew when and how his life would end.  The Pharisees show again their fear of the people rather than God.  It is so important to some of us to be seen well in the eyes of others; it drives our actions and thoughts, sometimes unawares. Again the contrast between the current leaders of His time and Jesus and where their focus was. Jesus keeps His focus on the Father and His mission.  The Pharisees, leaders of a long-established, ritualistic faith have lost the faith and are focused on the ritual.  For that cause, they are more concerned about how the people view them than they are about how the Creator of the faith itself views them.  They have forgotten the principles of the very stories they teach the people; how they have a heritage rich in his miraculous provision and so they miss the current provision of the Messiah, Savior.  Jesus is able to complete His mission because He knows His origin and source of strength.  He never loses sight of the love held for the creation.

 What do we take from this passage?  Jesus knew the suffering ahead and continued to do what He came to do.  We have been advised of the suffering that faces us towards the end. Do we continue to do what we are given to do?  Or do we leave the faith in fear?  Jesus passed through the suffering and emerged victorious.  We are promised the same.  He never lost His focus.  That focus remained on the will of the Father.  We  have the same option.

 We know who He is. Do we act like it? We know what He does and can do.  Do we act like it?  We know who he says we are.  Do we act like it?  We know what we can do through Christ.  Do we act like it?  Is God’s Word alive and active in us?

Sheep…or goats?…that is the question…

Matthew 25:31-46

But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.

For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” 

Pasted from <http://nlt.scripturetext.com/matthew/25.htm>

Division of all people is being compared to the separation of sheep and goats by the shepherd.  The shepherd loves and cares for all under his care but that is not returned as Jesus goes on to show.  The sheep are described as those who demonstrated the same characteristics as the shepherd, those of love and caring.  Jesus is consistent with describing those who follow him as his sheep and it continues here. The goats did not demonstrate the same characteristics.  The dividing is based upon what was done, the doing providing evidence of what is in the heart. 

The shepherd is dividing the flock; they have all eaten together, slept together, drank together in short, lived together in the same place under the same conditions.  Now they are separated from one another based upon how they lived.  Those demonstrating caring and love , like the shepherd, are the sheep; while those not demonstrating the same love and caring, rather, then one would think, a selfish, self-centered manner, these are called the goats. 

The sheep enter eternal life, the goats enter eternal punishment. 

 To which of the two, sheep or goats, are we demonstrating a likeness ?  It shows the true condition of the heart and the genuineness of the relationship with Christ.  Are we doing what He says we can do?  Is the Word active and alive in us?

Fearful or faithful?…

Matthew 25:14-30

Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

“The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more.

The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.

But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.

The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

“The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate,  why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

“Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

NLT

A long passage poetic in style and the repetition states we need to pay attention to the details.  Several things stand out at this time, each one received according to their ability, the Master is described as a hard man reaping a harvest where he doesn’t sow seed, and fear shows up again in contrast to faithfulness.

The one who feared and was found not faithful received extreme punishment.  This is a warning to us from Jesus.  Faithfulness is presented so far in all of these parables.  Responsibility stands out as a requirement, not a choice.  When the servant feared the Master, he was not showing respect as he may have thought, rather he was not believing the Master knew what he was doing in the asking.  He did not believe he could do what was required of him because he trusted in his own ability rather than the judgment of the master.  Too often that is exactly what we do when we say I can’t do that to an assignment given to us by the Lord.  We fear failure, looking ridiculous, and this may stem from lack of knowledge because we are not in the Word as we should be.

And each received according to his ability.  Jesus tells us on more than one occasion we are not given any assignment we are not capable of. Our trust is to be placed in Him and what He knows.  He created us, He knows our abilities, our weaknesses and strengths.  He knows how to stretch us and mold us to that place where we become valuable to Him.  If we love Him as we say, we do the hard work of becoming what He says we can become.   

Are we found faithful or fearful?  Do we shoulder our responsibility or do we bury what we are given in a hole in the ground?  Will we access the principle showcased here:  everyone who has been given more will have an abundance.?  Those given more earned more and received more.  All that addition results in abundance.  We are who he says we are, we can do what he says we can do through Christ, God’s Word is alive and active within us.