Standing Firm, part 2 Matthew 26:47-68

Matthew 26:47-68

John 1:5  the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.  It’s true, we know it’s true, but at this point in Jesus’ earthly life it’s looking pretty dark.

  • Betrayed
  • Arrested
  • Abandoned
  • Condemned

Where is the light in our passage?

  • Jesus is the light, of course, but in the face of all the evil of the cosmos crashing in around him—where, specifically, do we see light at this moment in time?

The central truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ

  • He is both the message and messenger
    • Jesus is the gospel—apart from him there is no salvation from sin
    • Jesus came at the fulness of time to tell his people about himself, about his work, and about his grace
  • So where is the light in this passage?
    • It’s in Jesus and in his words
    • He is the light and he trusts the light in this part of his story

The light he trusts is God’s word about himself—the same word we have to trust.   

Jesus trusts in God’s history and God’s future. And that’s where he finds assurance in the face of the most evil moment that is soon to come.

  1. History—Jesus knew God planned his history
    1. A fundamental part of Matthew’s gospel
      1. Fulfillment passages—Matthew records 9 OT passages with the “this took place to fulfill” and the name of a prophet
        1. i.e. Mattthew 1:20-23 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
      1. There’s even more if you include the passages where Matthew doesn’t tell you which prophet.  And even more still if you include the OT citations without the specific word of fulfilment there.
        1. The point Matthew makes is the person of Jesus, his birth , his presence in the world, his death, and his resurrection fulfill God’s work in history
      1. What is Jesus’ Fulfilling workHow did Jesus himself understand his fulfilling work?
        1. At his baptism—Matthew 3:15 “let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”
          1. He’s baptized as the representative for his people, who need repentance.
        1. In the sermon on the mount:  5:17  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.”
          1. He came to finish what the Law and Prophets spoke about, and like a house that’s finished, we now live in him according to how the Law and Prophets tell us to live.
        1. In Jesus’ mind, in his understanding, He believes that there’s more to do than just exist and be the Messiah—he has to act like the Messiah
          1. He inhabits space and time as the true Israelite who perfectly keeps God’s law
          1. And he delivers the law from the mountain like the perfect Moses
        1. He is an example for us:  There’s more to do than just exist and be a Christian—we are called to act like Christians. 
          1. Col. 1:10  Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
    1. Jesus’ ministry:  from wilderness to temptations to this circus of a trial all of it is part of God’s plan
      1. In the face of great sin and wickedness, Jesus rests secure in knowing there’s a purpose in God’s mind for all of it
      1. It is predestined
        1. Decided beforehand—what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen
        1. Decreed by God–unchangeable
        1. Every moment, every step, every jot and tittle…
      1. It needs to be finished
        1. Jesus’ work was predestined, but it still needed doing
        1. Part of God’s predestining work includes the one predestined to accomplish it, his obedience to do it, and all the circumstances in history that brought it to pass
    1. Jesus’ understanding—his mission, what he was anointed to do is the climax of earth’s history
      1. V. 56 “all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
      1. The whole chapter speaks to the fulfilment of history in Jesus’ death
        1. V. 2 after two days, the Passover is coming and I’ll be crucified
        1. V. 12 Mary anointed Jesus with the expensive perfume preparing him for his burial
        1. Jesus’ death at Passover wasn’t a coincidence it was sovereignly designed by God
        1. Even when the disciples abandoned Jesus was part of God’s plan. V.31”for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”
        1. None of this history happens apart from Jesus’ decision to follow and obey God even though he will have to deny his desire to not drink the cup of God’s wrath, v. 39 “not as I will, but as you will” and v. 42 “your will be done”
        1. Apart from Jesus obeying, God’s history doesn’t happen
          1. Jesus in his birth, life, death, resurrection and obedience is God’s instrument to “make history”
          1. Meaning what Christ did to obey the father had to happen to make the Father’s plan become reality—to become history
      1. The point—
        1. God has predestined all of  history, all of it
        1. God’s people are part of that history, we are obligated to put God’s will above ours
        1. God’s history in the world comes about through instruments he uses
          1. Those instruments: 
            1. First: his people, the church, made alive and led by his Spirit
            1. Second: literally everything else in the world
          1. So as God’s chosen instrument:  Be a willing part of God’s history
          1. And take comfort in knowing your personal history is part of God’s grand history of redemption, because that means there’s a future beyond anything you can imagine waiting for us.
  2. Future—Jesus trusts the goal of God’s history
    1. Think about what Jesus’ immediate future entails
      1. Circus court and conviction
      1. Beaten and crucifixion
      1. How can Jesus choose to follow God’s will into that?
        1. Go back to the beginning of his ministry, he went to a synagogue and stood up and read from Isaiah 61:1, if you go a little further in that chapter you’ll get the whole context
        1. Isaiah 61:1-3  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
          1. Isaiah prophesied about Israel’s destruction, exile, and here in chapter 61—finally, most books don’t have 20 chapters—Isaiah prophesies Israel’s return to the promised land in chapter 61. 
          1. So, by the time Israel believes Isaiah’s words, they had the ashes, but God promised a beautiful headdress.  They had the oil of mourning, and God promised the oil of gladness and garment of praise.
          1. Jesus looked forward to the beautiful headdress.  He simply believed God’s word in the face of persecution and trial.
          1. When suffering comes will you believe God’s word or will your suffering dictate your truth?
      1. In the wilderness, when Satan tempted our Lord.  Those temptations were offering to give Jesus glory without suffering
        1. “Turn the rocks into bread…Jump down and the angels will save you…All these will I give you…”
        1. But, in the wilderness Jesus knew that the glory of God will only come from God, which means obedience and trust in God and his plan.
        1. And God’s plan is to glorify his people who make their mission to glorify him.
        1. John 12:23-28  And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
    1. Look at how Jesus trusted God’s plan for the future:  v. 64 Jesus said to him, “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.”
      1. Quoting Daniel 7 Jesus simply asserts what the future holds for him. 
      1. He looks forward to his glorious existence in at the Right Hand of Power.  NO matter what it looks like now, Jesus trusts God’s word.
    1. Jesus gives himself over to the hands of sinful men because he is giving himself over to God’s future.  He can do that, because he knows God’s future is righteous and good.  Jesus was living with one eye on heaven.
      1. The Puritans used this phrase, living with one eye on heaven, to mean at least two things.  At least these two things we should all practice daily.
        1. Look to heaven as your goal, know that the suffering of this life is nothing in comparison to the glory that awaits you (Romans 8:18)
        1. Looking to heaven now feeds your soul with heavenly strength to work toward the righteous purpose of God.   Looking to heaven makes you act more like a heavenly child than an earthly one.
  3. Assurance—Jesus the man is our mediator, Jesus the man trusted God’s word above what his situation said.  He did that because he was assured of who God said he was, and of what God said his plan was.
    1. How can that translate into our assurance?
      1. Christ accomplished salvation for his people and everything that entails. 
        1. So, start by knowing your salvation, your standing with God, has nothing to do with how you feel.  True believers often lack assurance.
        1. Assurance is not of the essence of salvation.
        1. Faith isn’t feeling, faith rests on something outside of you; feeling is something that resides inside of you.
        1. Find assurance in the reality of Christ and his work.
      1. Look to God’s word for assurance, believe God’s word, like Jesus did.  So many great passages to choose from.  This is one of my fave’s:  Titus 3:4-7  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
        1. God our savior appeared, that refers to God the Son who appeared by becoming human. 
        1. The Son, Jesus, who it says “saved us”, past tense.  His work already saved his people. 
        1. That’s where our assurance is! The Work is done, it is finished.
        1.  But, Paul goes on, as if knowing where our minds might wander as we suffer, as we lose faith, and he says “not because of works done by us in righteousness”.  Your assurance isn’t found in you, or what you do, true assurance is found in Jesus and in what he did.
        1. It makes sense, doesn’t it?  True assurance is found in the one who said He is the truth.  Makes sense to me, anyway. 
        1. And assurance has its foundation in God’s merciful character:  Paul writes, “according to his own mercy”.
    1. Assurance might be with you for the moment and gone the next—we all know that.  So we need more than just the bare truth, we need truths that speak to our situations.
      1. That’s where God’s history and God’s future help us
    1. Know your history.  Specifically the history of God’s work in the world
      1. Suffering and trials are part of God’s plan, history is filled with them
      1. Earlier I quoted from Isaiah 61:3  “he will give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit”
      1. The history of that verse is the Assyrian invasion, the Jewish exile to Assyria, and in the distant future the return—the beautiful headdress wasn’t coming anytime soon for Israel.
      1. And this return would become the climax of God’s redemptive work for his people until Jesus came.  All that suffering at the hands of sinful nations is turned around and made into something beautiful—all that mourning because of the killing of innocents in the streets and the siege induced famines redeemed and made into a reason to rejoice.
    1. Trust God’s future.
      1. God is using your suffering and the suffering of people you love for his good purpose.  We don’t know the specifics yet, but we hold on to the truth in our minds for the days when our hearts don’t believe it.
        1. We hold it tightly, remembering Christ’s work saves his people, not ours, and it’s not our faith, but his faithfulness
        1. We hold those truths tightly in our minds as we wait on the Lord to restore the faith of our hearts.
      1. It never was our faith that saved us—It’s always been and always will be our Savior God who saved us.
      1. The same one who suffered so greatly for us, the one who cried out “my God, my God why are you forsaking me” as he descended into the ash of agony because in “the anguish of his soul he saw many to accounted righteous and he was  satisfied”.  That was our Lord’s beautiful headdress—us, his people.
    1. Jesus’ calm assurance in the face of the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas, and all his accusers rested in God’s Word.  And that is where ours must rest as well.  Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

644 May the Mind of Christ My Savior

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.