Humiliation Matthew 26:1-16

today we begin with everybody’s favorite topic:  literary structure!  (is it just mine?)

 Matthew 26:1-16 is bracketed by two similar items:  at the beginning you see Jewish leaders plotting Jesus’ death and at the end you see Judas plotting to betray Jesus to those Jewish leaders

  • The tension is mounting in the gospel

In between there’s the story of Mary (Lazarus and Martha’s sister) anointing Jesus with her very expensive perfume (John 12:5, 300 denarii=2/3 year’s salary)

  • The anointing is so special that Jesus says “wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
  • Mary is set apart here as an example of faith—she didn’t know Jesus was going to die, but Jesus interprets her action prophetically, “preparing my body for burial”
  • So Mary is an example of faith, and Judas is an example of leaving the faith—this part of the passage shows different responses to Jesus, even among his closest friends

There’s part of the structure we should notice:

  • It presents Jesus’ words and works out in the open, but lurking behind the scenes is Satan and his works
    • The tension has been mounting for some time
    • Increased opposition and confrontation with the Jews
    • Now it’s coming to a head—but it’s been clear since the garden of Eden that this story isn’t just a flesh and blood war
    • The culmination of Jesus’ life is the culmination of Satan’s attack against God
    • Luke 4:13 after Jesus refuted Satan three times in the wilderness, it says “Satan departed from Jesus until an opportune time”
    • That opportune time was now and the opportune means was Judas Iscariot—luke 22:3 “then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot”

Jesus knew his time had come—”in two days time it will be Passover and then I will be crucified”

Can you imagine knowing you that were about to undergo the most painful experience you’ve ever had and say it like it’s just a simple fact?

  • I can’t
  • And I don’t think we should read it that way
  • I’m sure Jesus had a lot of internal stuff going on—so much so that the disciples could see some of it on his face and in his actions
    • In their time, it’s just one day away when Jesus’ sweat would become like drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Yet, he never wavered, he never offered God a reason why he shouldn’t do go to the cross

Three points:  1.  Jesus’ Willingness;  2.  The Humiliation of Christ;  3.  The Benefits of Jesus’ death

  1. Jesus willingness to go to the cross
    1. Th. Watson, “Jesus was more willing to go to the cross than we are to go to the throne of grace”
      1. That stings
    1. Obedience—Jesus obeys his father plain and simple
      1. That was his agreement with the Father—you send me and I will obey you
      1. Fulfilling the law by actively keeping it
      1. John 4:34  “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’”
    1. Understanding—Jesus understood obedience would mean
      1. Matthew 26:38  “my soul is very sorrowful”
      1. And v.39 “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”
    1. We tend to think of Jesus as God but forget the incarnation—the “in the flesh” part of God in the flesh
      1. As our affirmation states (Chalcedonian Creed) “the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son”
      1. Both natures are preserved and concur in the one person
      1. Jesus’ “god-ness” didn’t overrule his human frailty nor his human emotion and fear
  2. The Humiliation of Christ
    1. More than the cross—it began at conception, the infinite God confined himself to the womb of the virgin
      1. WSC 46 The estate of Christ’s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he, for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.[1]
    1. Far and away, though, the most significant point of Jesus’ humiliation was the cross
      1. Gal. 3:13  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
      1. So we are assured that Jesus’ death removed the curse for us
      1. The lowest point of Jesus’ humiliation is the reason for the believer’s exaltation—it’s worth our effort and thought to give careful examination to Jesus’ Cross
    1. The Cross
      1. Physically brutal
        1. One of the most, if not the most brutal forms of execution ever conceived
        1. So bad Rome didn’t often use it on Roman citizens
        1. Always had a flogging before
          1. Cat of nine tails—ribbons of flesh
          1. Typical to die before the cross…
        1. Nails to hold you up and a stool to prolong the agony
      1. Emotionally brutal—the Psalms give voice to godly emotions, and they point to Jesus we can examine Jesus’ emotions by examining the Psalms
        1. Betrayal by one of his closest friends 
          1. Ps. 41:9  Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
        1. Abandonment by friends and all the crowds
          1. Psalm 69  Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore? O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons. For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.
        1. Desperation before his father
          1. Psalm 22:1-2  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
      1. Spiritually brutal—more than just a result of the other two aspects (physical and emotional) there’s a spiritual aspect to the crucifixion
        1. Jesus Became Sin for us—2 Cor. 5:21  “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin”
          1. God made sinless Jesus to be sin
          1. We often (I often) read over that part of the verse to get straight to the result—“so that we might become the righteousness of God”
          1. But to understand a little bit of what Jesus went through, willingly, purposefully, for our salvation we have to think about what it means that “God made Jesus to be sin”
          1. It’s partially a mystery
          1. What we can understand:
            1. Jesus isn’t sinful
              1. Not in nature
              1. Not in action, thought, words, or motives
              1. Absolutely pure and truly innocent
              1. Thnk about when you see a movie so full of curse words or overtly sinful actions that you have to leave and feel dirty for watching it
                1. Cousin Susie’s house growing up…
              1. Jesus felt that perfectly and fully all the time just being around sin
            1. On the cross, to redeem us he had to become us, all of us, at once, and he was made sin
              1. He didn’t commit sin
              1. He became sin
              1. The object of God’s hatred, his enemy  Romans 5:10  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
        1. Separation from the father
          1. Isaiah 59:1-2  Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
          1. For sinners it’s our natural state—cursed, but natural state
          1. For Jesus, being separated from the Father was totally foreign
            1. Perfect fellowship
            1. Infinite intimacy
            1. Eternally present
            1. All of it lost
        1. The spiritual suffering had to so far exceed the physical and emotional—of course, though, all three aspects are part of what makes a person a person and all three would work together to crush our Lord Jesus.
        1. He went willingly to the cross for us knowing exactly what the cross meant, even more than we could ever know
  3. The Benefits of Christ’s Death
    1. HC #43 “Through Christ’s death our old nature is crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so hat the evil desires of the flesh may no longer reign in us, but that we may offer ourselves to him as a sacrifice of thankfulness.”
      1. It didn’t say it makes us sinless—but that our “evil desires” no longer REIGN over us
      1. Jesus death—Jesus submitting to the curse makes believers free from the curse’s power
      1. Through Jesus’ death we are free to give praise, thanksgiving and glory to God in worship
      1. The relationship with God is restored– Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
    1. These benefits are for those who believe—all you have to do is trust Jesus to be your savior.  Do you?
    1. Knowing how much Jesus loves us should make us love him more—understanding that he died for you is one thing, growing in understanding of what he suffered is even better.
    1. A final thought for us to hold on to:  Jesus went willingly to the cross, he knew what it meant, suffering upon suffering in ways we can’t understand because we aren’t infinite, eternal, nor are we sinless, but he went willingly.  And he did it willingly because while he knew what it meant for him, he also knew what it meant for us.  Heb. 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Amen.

The Chalcedonian Creed

  • Last week we stopped at “begotten before all ages according of the father according to the Godhead”—biblical language describing the eternal nature of the son, but his distinctness from the father too (a mystery we can’t get too much further than that
  • Next up:  in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the mother of God, according to the Manhood
    • Without being born of Mary, Jesus wouldn’t be a man and if Jesus isn’t a man, he can’t be our savior
    • Mary is the Mother of God according to the Manhood—God was never born, God has always been, but Jesus who is God and who always will be God, was born to Mary.  Even in the womb, Jesus was God and was holding creation together through the word of his power.
  • One in the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures
    • The Father is the father because the Son was begotten of him, and no other was begotten of the Father—this Son begotten of the Father was also born of the Virgin Mary and now exists in two natures forever.  He is Christ, the Messiah who is our savior.  He is the Son of God which means he is Lord of creation.  Jesus  is one person, not two, but his person has two natures.
  • Without confusion—the two natures remain two natures
  • Without change—those two natures are exactly as they always have been.  His divine nature is exactly like the Father’s and the Spirit’s.  His human nature is exactly as ours would have been had Adam and Eve not sinned.
  • Without division—the two natures are in one person
  • Without separation—the two natures will always exist together in the person of Christ
  • The distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person and one subsistence—this statement kind of sums up the five before it.  The human and divine natures are united in one person, but both natures remain what those natures always have been, but now, since the miraculous conception in Mary’s womb, they are forever “concurring” existing together in Christ.  The word person refers to him being an individual entity, just as each of us are, and just like the Father is distinct from the Son, and the Spirit is also distinct from the Father and the Son.  Subsistence refers to union between his two natures occurring perfectly in the one person of Christ—this is what theologians call the “hypostatic union”.

648 My Jesus I Love Thee

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 love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you always.  Amen.

[1] Westminster Assembly, The Westminster Confession of Faith: Edinburgh Edition (Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1851), 195.