SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- A lot takes place in this chapter: Jesus spends his last night with his followers and is then arrested and tried by the priests. The last three chapters of Matthew are focused on what's called the “Passion” of Jesus, Jesus’ last hours on earth where he is tried, tortured and crucified before being raised from the dead. Here are a few notes from this chapter:
- The night before Jesus was arrested, the Jewish people were celebrating the "Passover". This was a celebration of God rescuing Jewish boys in Egypt on his way to leading the Jews out of slavery. That historical event foreshadowed Jesus' death on the cross, which offered a way for us to be rescued by God and led out of our slavery to sin.
- While celebrating the Passover, Jesus serves his disciples bread and says, “Take and eat; this is my body,” And then serves the wine while 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.“ In Luke’s telling of this story he adds that Jesus also said, "Do this in remembrance if me" (Luke 22:19). Here Jesus is expressing the new covenant that God was making with humanity. After Jesus’ death, God’s covenant moved from trying to earn salvation by obeying the Law perfectly to receiving salvation as a free gift from God through faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus also gives his followers a way to remember his sacrifice through an act we call "communion."A small amount of food and drink is consumed for the purpose of drawing closer to God and focusing on Jesus' sacrifice. The drink (usually wine or juice) is to represent Jesus' blood, while the food (usually fragments of bread) represents Jesus' body that was broken for us.
- In verse 73, Peter’s accent gave him away as a foreigner. Apparently a Galilean fisherman sounded different from a Jerusalem local. After this third denial of knowing Jesus, a rooster crows and reminds Peter of what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- In this chapter we see Judas betray Jesus (verses 14-16) and Peter betray Jesus (verses 69-75). It would be easy to look down on them because of their lack of loyalty to Jesus, but the truth is that we all betray Jesus. When we don't live for Jesus, when we live selfish lives focused on self instead of loving God and loving people, we betray him. This is why Jesus had to die.
- Never let communion become an unthinking routine for you. It is one of the most important things you will do in a week, as it is a chance to examine ourselves so we can identity and confess our sins to God, and the receive his forgiveness, but only because of what Jesus did on the cross for us. Communion reminds us of the cost of our sin and Jesus' sacrificial love for us.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Are there any sins you need to confess to God and receive his forgiveness for? There are probably are, so why not spend some time doing that?
- How can you make sure you use communion as an opportunity to examine yourself and thank Jesus for his sacrifice for you?