Before Easter, consider these things

Over the course of this week, we’ve been walking through Jesus’ teachings about His own death and resurrection according to Matthew’s Gospel. Those videos can be viewed below and the series will be downloadable this week from the church website. We walked through Matthew 24:1-26:5, where Jesus both states that all the things He described would be fulfilled within the generation standing there with Him (Matthew 24:34) and that He would be handed over for crucifixion soon (Matthew 26:2), which was the fulfillment of Jesus’ teachings in these two chapters. We will see that all these things are fulfilled in Christ come Easter morning.

Good Friday is the day on which we celebrate Christ’s death and the final atonement for all sin. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary that obedience was fulfilled by the only righteous one so that His people could be clothed in His righteousness alone. This is the day we celebrate the great exchange. Our sin was imputed to Christ as His righteousness was imputed to His people in every place through all time. This is a solemn day because on it our Lord was put to death. He carried our sin and our shame.

Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

The grief of the Messiah

This part of the story takes place on a Tuesday evening going into Wednesday morning, formally known as Spy Wednesday, and it is the morning on which Jesus was betrayed. Leading up to this moment, Matthew records Jesus’ teachings about His own death and resurrection. In Chapter 26, Jesus even stated that he would be handed over in the days following the beginning of the Passover festival.

As we read about Jesus going into Gethsemane and praying, we witness this great burden and grief that Jesus bore. Jesus even describes His own grief as grief to the point of death. Why was Jesus so grieved? To know the reason, we make it our goal to look at the Scriptures alone. We do not guess as to why Jesus was grieved and we certainly don’t try to add anything to the text or twist it. I don’t think that this text can ever be misconstrued to claim that Jesus was fearful of the physical beating He would receive. This was the reason He came. According to the text, Jesus was grieved because of the cup that he would drink. Jesus talks about this cup twice in His prayers to the Father. If we want to understand what grieved Jesus, we must understand what Jesus was referring to when He mentioned this cup and submitted Himself to the Father’s will in the drinking of the cup. Just a few verses earlier in chapter 26, Jesus had the Passover meal with His disciples. During this Passover meal, Jesus assigned particular meaning to the Passover cup:

And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28).

This cup was the cup of Passover, representing the covenant of God with God’s people. Jesus took the cup and stated that it was His blood of the covenant. God’s covenant required that sin be paid for. What Jesus was claiming, here, was that His blood was the blood of the covenant and only He could satisfy sin debt. Jesus is the one who fulfills the covenant of God for the salvation of people, who pours out His blood for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Through this cup, we are justified. For Christ, this means that by drinking of this cup, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The fact that Jesus was grieved to the point of death meant that He was quite literally taking on the sin grief of “many” according to Matthew 26:28.

We also cannot misconstrue this text to mean that Christ did not want to save His people:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39).

Jesus is clear about His own desires. He cares for His people. Despite their wretchedness, He desires to gather people under His wings. People have always been unwilling. That is why Christ had to have the sins of His people imputed to Him through the crucifixion.

This was a heavy burden. It was the Father’s will for Jesus to be crushed for the iniquities and pierced for the transgressions of His people. In Isaiah 53:10-11, we read:

But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.

So, Jesus was crushed for your iniquities and pierced for your transgressions. The Father was pleased in doing this so that the “many,” according to Matthew and Isaiah and Jesus, can partake in the cup of Christ’s sacrifice and be clothed in Christ’s righteousness alone. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time tonight to walk through every aspect of this passage. I would like to invite you to join us on Wednesday evenings as we walk through Matthew’s Gospel in detail or follow on the blog.

Today, Black Friday, we recognize that this bids us examine our own lives. Are you covered by Christ’s sacrifice? Are you washed in the blood? Has Christ died for you? Confess in Christ as Lord in this moment. There is nothing that can keep Christ Jesus from justifying you. This is what His death accomplished.

Jesus was handed over after the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. We read about His crucifixion and the fulfillment of these things:

Matthew 27:45-66

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.

Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

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