Thursday, November 13, 2008

Matthew 26:1-16 "Choose Your Response"

Read Matthew 26:1-16.

"....will be handed over to be crucified." " alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head...." "Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over." NIV
These three passages sum up the three possible responses to Jesus - get rid of Him, love Him, or betray Him.

In vs 1-5, the chief priests and elders are plotting to have Jesus killed. They want to be rid of Him because He has upset their way of life. In the same way the world wants to be rid of Jesus. He tends to rock the boat still two thousand years after He walked this earth. And those in opposition simply want Him to be gone. Has it ever struck you that people want religious freedom for everyone but the Christians. They scream for tolerance of other religions, but call the Christian's stance narrow-minded and intolerant. Are they not being intolerant of Christianity? So in their minds it's best just to get rid of it. We've not faced that in the extreme in America yet, but in personal hearts it is prevalent. "I don't need Jesus" is the thought of the day. "I'm strong on my own; He is just a crutch for the weak and a wall for the intolerant to hide behind." And they kill not just the idea of a Messiah, but Christ Himself.

Then Jesus goes to Bethany where a woman anoints Him with oil. She represents the believer who will give their all to serve Jesus. He is treasured and adored to the exclusion of caring for what appears to be self's best interest. Jesus is to be lifted up, loved, and prioritized in our lives. We may face ridicule, but we continue to raise Him up as the true God; the One and Only Savior. Our hopes and dreams are centered around Him and His will. Our lives are not our own, but surrendered to the One who gives freedom through service. No longer are we bound by sin because we serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. His name is the only name we lift up in praise for He and He alone is worthy. Even if no one else around us believes, we will stand in this truth.

Lastly, the betrayal. Judas sells Jesus out. He's looking out for number one and abandons the very One who gave him life. Judas had lived and ministered with Jesus for three years, yet he still couldn't see the better way. He had witnessed miracle after miracle; prophesies fulfilled. He called Him Lord and Master while sitting at His feet, learning from His teachings. But self won the day and Jesus was betrayed. How many people call themselves Christian yet sell Jesus out each and every day. When decisions must be made that place Christ above personal wants and ambitions, He is placed on a shelf to be dusted off for Sunday services. I guess this makes Judas the first Pharisee of the Christian church. But the practice continues daily where hypocrisy abounds. Hearts not completely surrendered to Jesus will find that a commitment to His ways will collapse under the pressures of the enticement of sin and self.

Crucify, anoint, or betray. How do you respond to Jesus?

Further Thoughts:
  1. What does the Scripture say about full devotion or holiness? Find passages from Paul's letters, James, 1 Peter, and 1 and 2 John on this subject.
  2. Hypocrisy is rampant in a relative world. Even Christians are drawn into the fallacy that we can make our Christian walk relative to our wants and needs. The Pharisees are a prime example for us of the dangers of and punishment for hypocrisy. Read again the seven woes in chapter 23 as a warning. Compare and contrast a devoted follower to a Pharisee.
  3. How do we become complacent in our Christianity? I'm sure Judas didn't leave His family without being devoted to Jesus in the beginning. What happened along the way?
  4. Are you who you say you are? This is a question I ask myself often. We can preach something all day long, but if we are not living it, is it embedded in our hearts? Write a complete definition of "Christian." Is your life lined up with this definition? If no, why not?

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