Read This Week: Matthew 26
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives… He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” – Matthew 26:26-30, 40 NIV
Matthew 26 is about the power of moments and the steadfastness of the mission that Jesus was on. It is apparent here and throughout this entire gospel that the life and ministry of Christ are purposeful. Everything he did was within the will of God and intentionally on the mission that He came to fulfill.
As we read this chapter, it is important to keep this idea of Jesus’ words, actions, and mission in view. The disciples often failed to understand this reality as they walked with Him, but that does not have to be the case with us. We can read and absorb these powerful moments and events in the context and light of the meta-narrative of God and the accomplishment of His eternal will through Christ.
We see God’s will and mission in the story of the woman with the alabaster box. It shows not only a beautiful act of sacrifice, love, and devotion to Jesus but also has theological implications for the Gospel. The disciples saw it as a kind yet wasteful gesture of expensive perfume but, Jesus interprets the action as preparing him for burial as was the custom in that culture. What the disciples saw as a frivolous act was a love-filled foreshadowing of the burial of Jesus after His sacrificial death on the cross. It was symbolic of both the human devotion of the woman and the divine sacrifice of Christ.
We see God’s will and mission in the betrayal of Judas. Jesus demonstrates that it is a sacrificial and loving act to receive someone as they are and invest life in them by his treatment of Judas. It also shows that we can trust God’s plan amid bad choices. His perfect will is not stopped by flawed behavior. In what followed next, we see Jesus overcome the fallenness of betrayal with the power of love. Betrayal chooses to forget. Love chooses to redeem.
We see God’s will and mission in the last supper. Jesus breaks bread with the disciples and gives it to them as a symbol of remembrance of what was to come. It anticipated His necessary bodily sacrifice for all. He identifies the cup of wine as his blood, the blood of the new covenant that is necessary for the covering of sin. We observe the Lord’s Supper in the same way, to remember what Christ did for us and to honor His payment of our sin debt that we could never pay.
We see God’s will and mission in the garden as Jesus submits in divine humility to the will of the Father even as he suffers in his humanity. This demonstrates to us the humble submission to God that we should have in our daily lives, decisions, and actions. We further see God’s will and mission in Jesus’ arrest and trial as it furthered accomplished the plan of salvation and glory that would come to the Lord for all time through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It shows us that nothing on earth can’t prevent the movement of God’s work and the furthering of His kingdom.
We see God’s will and mission in Peter’s denial of Jesus. It would be a temporary setback for an incredible comeback in the disciple’s life. Peter, a lying coward at this moment, would be transformed by the resurrection, appearance, and ascension of Christ. He would later stand on the steps of Pentecost and with truth, boldness, and courage, proclaim the saving message of Jesus to the world. It is one of the great examples of personal redemption and transformation for the cause of Christ. God’s will provides moments that ensure our lowest and worst moments don’t have to be the defining moments of our future.