Lowest Common Denominator Matthew 26:14-25

Matthew 26:14-25

Introduction:  Looking at this again:  seeing the main points here instead of the secondary (important-but secondary() point we looked at last week

Particularly focusing on the events and the two main characters here:  Jesus and Judas.

On Jesus’ part:

  • Grace
    • To his disciples—preparing them for what’s coming
      • His death
      • But it’s not out of the blue—according to scripture
        • Isaiah 53—the most clear evidence in scripture that Jesus’ died in the place of his people. “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities…with his wounds we are healed…the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
        • Not only would Jesus die, but he would be betrayed by a friend. From our responsive reading Psalm 41:9 “even my close friend whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”
    • Grace To Judas—he makes a final appeal to Judas’ conscience
      • Pope Leo (4th century),  “Jesus not meeting his wickedness with a harsh and open rebuke, hoping that his betrayer might repent more easily since he hadn’t been publicly disgraced.” (Paraphrase)[1]

On Judas part:

  • Stubborn rebellion
    • Clearly a warning to be soft hearted and willing to change course
    • Demonstration of what true apostasy is:
      • A willful rejection of Jesus unto death

The Narrative:  the setup (Judas plots to betray Jesus); the story.

  • Matthew makes sure to separate Judas’ betrayal from the institution of the Lord’s Supper
    • Not that Matthew realized what Jesus was doing at that time, but when he wrote the gospel he surely did
  • You ever wonder how the disciples found out Judas’ plans with the chief priests? I do, it’s not like they were there…
    • Don’t spend too much time on that—it’s really not important
    • They pay him thirty pieces of silver, probably about how much you might earn in a week as a laborer
  • That’s the setup—the betrayer is identified, but the disciples don’t know it

The story of Judas’ betrayal:

  1. Time—the first day of the feast
    1. This is Passover day when the lamb is killed that night
    1. Why is it called the Feast of Unleavened Bread?
      1. The feast started after Passover
      1. The two happened together and became one
  2. Details of preparation
    1. Remember Jesus’ humanity—he is omniscient (define this), but in his role as savior he doesn’t access the omniscient divine nature
      1. Read the gospels with this in mind
    1. So in v. 18 when He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ”
      1. Pre-planning not prophetic foretelling
      1. How do they know who to approach
        1. More details probably omitted for space—like area of the city, etc.
        1. One detail included in Mark 14:13 the man they should look for will be carrying water—this was woman’s work
      1. Jesus had already made arrangements for the Passover in advance
        1. There would be a lot to do—
          1. table and places to recline
          1. lamb—place to eat and cook
          1. bitter herbs, vinegar, fruits for the dipping liquid
          1. wine and bread
        1. It’s surprising the disciples didn’t know the plan
          1. Most likely:  Jesus kept it secret, planned in private, so that his arrest wouldn’t come at the meal, but after it
    1. A lesson for all of us:  don’t neglect your religious duty
      1. You ever feel so overwhelmed with life you decide you just can’t gather to worship?
        1. I’m sure we’ve all felt that way at times, and my purpose isn’t to condemn you. 
        1. I’m just pointing out that Jesus is on his way to the cross and everything that means, suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually
        1. But he still stops to observe Passover
      1. If anyone ever had a reason not to worship—it’s Jesus in this moment
        1. Rationalize? –“I am the Passover Lamb!  Why do I need to eat it?” 1 Cor 5:7
      1. But he does—not for his good, but for the glory of the Father through his obedience
  3. Dinner—Passover before Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper
    1. Why recline?  La-z-boys to eat?
      1. ANE custom
      1. Heads toward the table feet away
      1. Kind of destroys DaVinci’s beautiful masterpiece…
    1. The shocking revelation—a betrayer in their midst
      1. Did Jesus know who it was?
        1. Yes—but not divinely
          1. Remember his role as Savior
          1. Human person, he doesn’t peer into minds or the future
          1. He likely knew simply by his godly discernment
          1. As the perfect person, Jesus lived and thought the wisdom of the proverbs perfectly—that’s not omniscience, it’s just being godly as we were intended to be
      1. And He absolutely knew that he would be betrayed, at least since he fed the 5000
        1. John even says he knew who it was
        1. John 6:64, 70-71 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)  Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
    1. Everyone’s answer to Jesus’ statement
      1. “Is it I, Lord?”
        1. Hendriksen, “wholesome self-distrust”
        1. Eleven hearts—those of The Twelve minus Judas Iscariot—are filled with misgiving. Each of these eleven men feels that he could not possibly be the one meant by the Lord—and yet one never can tell. And so, one by one, each of them, caught with a certain dread of himself, asks, “Surely not I, Lord?”[2]
        1. They ask it in such a way that they expect a negative answer.  I think we should hear them hoping, desperately hoping, that Jesus would reply “no it’s not you” to each of them.
        1. Looking for reassurance from their beloved friend.  No one really got any here, Jesus let the suspense hang in the air.
    1. What Jesus said should have warned Judas, who wouldn’t be afraid when Jesus said “it would have been better for him not to have been born”?—he should have stopped everything right there, gone back and returned the money to the priests
      1. Instead, Judas took Jesus’ vagueness as a sign that he didn’t know who the betrayer was and went ahead with the plan.  His two faced reply to Jesus was slightly different—“It’s not me, is it, rabbi?”  Rabbi, teacher, not Lord—clearly Judas’ heart wasn’t with Jesus, just maybe this little alteration reveals that.
    1. At this point maybe your thinking, how can you say that Judas could have chosen not to betray Jesus?  Wasn’t Judas’ betrayal a part of God’s plan, I mean, doesn’t Jesus even say that in this passage?
      1. Let me answer your theoretical questions I’ve posed for you, in reverse order:
      1. Jesus does say Judas’ betrayal is part of God’s plan: “one of you will betray me (v.21)…the Son of Man goes as it is written of him (v.24)”
        1. That doesn’t relieve his guilt—“woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed, it would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
      1. How can I say Judas could have chosen not to betray Jesus?  Because the Bible teaches that we do exactly what we want to do, and we’re responsible for our choices. 
        1. Judas was a reprobate sinner.  HE wasn’t truly converted so when it came down to it, he followed the sinful greed of his doubting heart.
        1. Yet, Jesus offers the chance to repent one more time, he pleads that Judas would stop and hear the gospel instead of doom himself to hell.
        1. The Bible teaches over and again that sinners do respond to the gospel—not every sinner, of course, but many do.  So, Jesus takes one more shot at the betrayer’s heart.
        1. But Judas resists one more time.
  4. What do we learn?  The Lowest Common Denominator
    1. Do you ever question your faith?   Do wonder to yourself, “Am I even saved” or “what if I’m not elect”? What’s your standard for judging your faith?  How do you know that You aren’t like Judas?
    1. When Judas heard Jesus say “one of you will betray me” he had to be rattled.  But the rattling didn’t stop with Judas that night.
    1. After they ate and celebrated the first Lord’s Supper they went to the Mt. of Olives and either on the Mt. or on the way to the Mt. Jesus told Peter, “before the rooster crows, you’re going to deny me three times.”
      1. Peter being Peter—“even if have to die with you, I won’t deny you”
    1. What’s the difference between Peter and Judas?
      1. Love for Jesus.
      1. Judas stopped loving Jesus—if he ever did love Jesus, he certainly stopped at some point to betray him.  Or he loved money more.
      1. Peter always loved Jesus, even in his denial:
        1. Luke 22:59-62  And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
        1. Loved his savior, but still denied him.  The way Jesus’ gaze must have cut him to the quick has always captivated me.
    1. In math, to add two numbers you need to have a common denominator (the bottom number on a fraction)—the lowest common denominator, as far as I can tell for a true Christian, is your love for Jesus.
      1. Not extraordinary love, just love.
        1. Sometimes you might b so angry at God you could scream, but when you think about your savior, you still love him.  Intellectually you know they’re the same God, but still Jesus is the Savior and you love him, but you you’re having it out with God.
        1. Loving Jesus for a believer is easy, because a believer knows sho Jesus is.
        1. It doesn’t have to be monumental love by any means, and often it’s small and insignificant—like a mustard seed.
      1. In Peter’s case, it wasn’t even so much love that it kept him from denying Jesus, just enough love made him repent of it.
      1. Of course, Peter’s love grew, and if you are a true Christian, so will yours.  Not without hiccups, but it will grow.
      1. Do you love Jesus?  When you consider his goodness, his love for others, and his purity, are you stirred to love him and love him more?  If so, rest assured in Jesus’ grace.  If not, you should be living in fear of death as Judas did.  IN the name of the Father who sent the Son, the Son who paid our price, and the Spirit who regenerates from death, amen.

[1] LEO. (Serm. 58.3.) He shews that the conscience of His betrayer was known to Him, not meeting his wickedness with a harsh and open rebuke, that penitence might find a readier way to one who had not been disgraced by public dismissal.  (Catena Aura, vol. 1: Matthew, 888.  Logos Bible Software.)

[2] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 9, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 906.