Summary: Apostles, Pt. 16
PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL (MATTHEW 26:20-35)
As avid Peanuts readers know, the strong-willed Lucy had an old-fashioned crush on the music-minded Schroeder, who had eyes and time for his piano only. Often, she went out of her way to shower her affection to him by leaning on his piano, but Schroeder never returned the interest or reciprocated in love.
Once, Lucy asked Schroeder, who was busy playing on the piano, what love was. Schroeder stood at attention and recited its definition, “Love: a noun referring to a deep, intense, ineffable feeling toward another person or persons.” When Schroeder sat down to resume his piano playing, Lucy looked wistfully into the distance and groaned, “On paper, he’s great.”
The apostles’ ultimate test and true colors were set into motion after observing the Last Supper. In the first rare and private moment that Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve (v 20), as Mark also noted (Mark 14:18), Jesus shocked the disciples by announcing His betrayal at the hands of one of the apostles. Following that, He predicted an emerging scandal would sadden scare, shame and even stumble and scatter the disciples, culminating with Peter’s denial of Christ. Peter did not listen to or learn from Jesus’ warning because he was too full with himself, busily reacting, denying and rationalizing. He immediately rejected Jesus’ account of the scandal, especially his involvement.
What steps should we take to resist, counter and domesticate pride that persists and continues in our lives?
Be Perturbed, But Do Not Be Pressured
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matt 26:20-30)
An old man met an old lady, and they fell in love. One day, the old man gathered up all his courage and asked the old lady to marry him. She said “YES.”
When the old man got home, he remembered asking the old lady to marry him, but he couldn’t remember whether she had said “YES” or “NO.”
Rather embarrassed that he had forgotten, he never mentioned marriage to her again. After a few weeks, it bothered the old man so much that he gathered up enough courage to ask the old lady what was the answer she gave when he asked her to marry him. The old lady shouted with glee and said, “I’m so glad you asked! Some man asked me to marry him a few weeks ago, and I said “YES,” but I couldn’t remember who it was that asked me!”
The disciples fretted Jesus’ persecution but forgot his point. They had the right reaction but they missed the significance of the message. Matthew and Mark’s gospel both recorded the disciples’ sad reaction (v22, Mark 14:19), but Matthew added the word “very” – very sad. The last time they felt exactly the same way and in the same words was when Jesus sprang another surprise at them by saying, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matt 17:22-23) What made it harder to take and stomach this time was the accusation that one of them was a mole, a deserter and a coward. Instinctively, all of them proclaimed their innocence and loyalty.
After the dramatic disclosure, whatever Jesus said was lost on them, which was the real sadness in the story because that was the crucial revelation given before the climax of His crucifixion and death. Jesus proceeded to tell them for the first time why they were heading to Jerusalem, not for the fickleness of riches or the fun of royalty and but for the forgiveness of sins. The word ‘forgiveness” made its debut in Matthew’s gospel. With John the Baptist’s death, the message of forgiveness of sins died with him. Jesus not only revived and realized it, but revealed the nature of the forgiveness of sins. John the Baptist had come preaching “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4, Luke 1:77, 3:3), but he never told them who could provide forgiveness, who could obtain it and how it was done. Jesus, for the first time, revealed that it was his blood (Matt 26:28) and not John’s baptism that was the means for the forgiveness of sins.