Praise ye the Lord – I am somewhat behind but still on track. I am looking at Matthew 26. Interestingly as I was driving home from church today I saw a notice at the front of the local University it was announcing the ‘inaugural lecture’ of a doctor. The sign jumped out at me . I thought of the individual who had arrived and achieved in this way and wondered what the topic was about. It was not until me I was reviewing this chapter 26 moments later , that I realize the Lord was preparing me for the study. An inaugural lecture is a key milestone in any academics career, signifying their promotion to a professor . It is an opportunity for a professional to present their innovative research first hand.
Matthew 26 was itself an inauguration event – an important milestone for Jesus and now our Christian faith, but it was a selfless act.
The chapter starts with a foretelling of what was to come , first with the anointing of Jesus’ body by the woman with the alabaster flask and the subsequent Passover meal , where bread was broken and wine poured out . Hayford says that by doing this act , Jesus was enacting ‘transforming the elements’ inaugurating (bringing in) a new and better way. This new and better way would subsequently be confirmed by his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Triumph of death to life through the cross. Jesus. presented the message and meaning at the feast . (not his first message, but his milestone lecture…. ) Later He went further and enacted it.
Following the feast the chapter sets out the scene for us of the betrayal , the arrest the denial by those who said they loved him . We see through it all , his meekness and wisdom shone through. Jesus had a close relationship with the Father, so he knew the exact time and hour that these things were to be. His giving up his life was not perchance or accident. He had been telling the disciples for some time that he would have to go away and here in this chapter we see the time arrive.
Jesus knew his body had to be broken and that his blood would be poured out and he prepared himself and heart (through prayer) the preceding night , confirming this symbolically by the Passover meal which he instituted as a meal for us to take often in remembrance and for all time. Significantly as you read between verses 38 42 you pick up his vulnerability (made in flesh form) but continuing to be obedient to his divine call. The scripture records that his soul was exceedingly sorrowful unto death. Why, you may ask if he was the son of God – he would have known the end from the beginning – he could have shielded the pain. He was sorrowful because for the first time, he was to experience the weight of all our sins in his body. No one can imagine what that must be like. Which professor or doctor would imbibe the result of their research, their message, if it meant certain death. But Jesus did. Jesus knew the depth, darkness and anguish of sin as a disease. He asked the Father if it was his will to let the cup pass, let it pass. It was not to be. He remained willing , faced his accusers with truth, meekness and grace knowing he would soon face certain death.
Lord this was it! This was the moment you could have abandoned us but you didn’t you remained faithful to the call to save us. It was an important milestone for you and for us. You prepared your body as a sacrifice for and went the way of the cross so that we can live.
Lord we can never do justice to this scripture , but as we reflect on it how you were betrayed , beaten and left alone , we want to say sorry again and again for the stripes we caused and cause you.
May we never again fail you. May we be like the woman with the alabaster box , may we trade all that we have and are for you ; may we ever come close, worship and adore you.
In leaving this as a memorial Lord, may we lead by example willing to surrender, be broken , willing to be vulnerable and open for the sake of the cross. Seeped always in prayer let us be , before , during and after. Taking advantage of your anointing and grace in every earthly situation and letting the truth of your word make the mark, the cut and the difference.