Matt 27:11-26

We continue our reading notes on Matthew’s Passion narrative, in the weeks leading up to Easter.

Today we look at the trial before Pilate, in which Matthew continues to emphasise the innocence of Jesus. Although it may seem Pilate is concerned with Jesus’ innocence, his delaying tactics are probably more about toying with the Jewish rulers to show who was really in charge. After all, Pilate had a reputation for being brutal and self-serving, and was quite hostile to the Jews early in his rule. He caused great offence when he attempted to set up a Roman standard within Jerusalem, when he tried use temple treasury money to fund aqueduct construction, and when he defiled the temple sacrifices by mixing human blood in with them (see Lk 13:1).

Continue reading

Matt 27:1-10

We continue our reading notes on Matthew’s Passion narrative, in the weeks leading up to Easter.

Today we look at the story of Judas’ remorse and suicide. This isn’t found in Mark’s Gospel, but Matthew adds it here probably to contrast it with Peter’s remorse – one leads to despair, the other to true repentance. It also makes the picture of the Jewish leadership blacker still, showing how their failure to lead and serve the people led to Judas’ terrible destiny.

Continue reading

Matt 26:47-56

We continue our reading notes on Matthew’s Passion narrative, in the weeks leading up to Easter.

Matt 26:46-56

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” 55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Continue reading

Matt 26:31-46

We continue our reading notes on Matthew’s Passion narrative, in the weeks leading up to Easter. Remember, the focus of these two weeks is the text itself. There aren’t many verses to read each day, so spend time reading the story slowly and reflectively.

Matt 26:31-35

This section contrasts the agony and faithfulness of Jesus as he goes to do his Father’s will with the weakness of the disciples and the betrayal of Judas.

Continue reading

Matt 26:17-30

We continue our reading notes on Matthew’s Passion narrative, in the weeks leading up to Easter.

Matt 26:17-19

26:17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

There is a well-known issue of chronology here, between Matthew (along with Mark and Luke) over against John. John describes Jesus’ last supper as taking place before the Passover, and the crucifixion taking place on the Passover day – the day of preparation for the Passover meal, when the lambs were slaughtered. If Jesus was crucified when the lambs were killed, that (of course) makes a theologically significant point!

Continue reading

Matt 26:1-16

For the next two weeks (leading up to Easter) we’re going to be reading through the “Passion Narrative” in Matthew’s Gospel (chapters 26-27). It will be a little different in structure from other series as I want to give the Gospel text more space to speak. Rather than a packaged “devotional reading” it will be more like a running commentary on the story as we go. Why? Firstly, it’s an important story and I don’t want to get in its way too much. And also because there isn’t a lot of direct, “what’s in it for me?” application in each episode. Rather, it’s the story of how Jesus suffered in our place, and then rose again to conquer death. So the big picture won’t need a lot of explanation every day! Use these two weeks to remind yourself again of the central story of our faith, and what it cost God to redeem us.

Continue reading

Exodus 12 – The Passover

LastSupper

This is one of the most famous scenes in the world: Jesus’ last supper, reinterpreted through Renaissance eyes. (For a start, in the original they would have been lying down on their sides, and in a much smaller room!) What’s the story behind this scene? Why is Jesus celebrating this ritual meal? And for us – how did we get our communion service out of it?

The Lord’s Supper has a long history. It traces its roots back to the Passover, recorded in Exodus chapter 12. Yet as Christians we do not, now, simply celebrate a Passover meal. It was redefined – decisively – by Jesus just before his death. So what we’re doing today is looking at the Passover meal in Exodus 12, I and then a little later next week we’ll look at its transformation by Jesus as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. (We begin a pre-Easter series in Matt 26-28 next week.) But we must start with…

Continue reading

Exodus 5-11 – The Plagues (part 2)

You need to read yesterday’s post first, as we’re taking a two-part look at the plagues, and what they tell us about God. His actions + scriptural interpretation = revelation.

God ‘undoing’ creation

The second piece of interpretation we find in the story of the plagues comes through the “creation language” used by the biblical author. In fact, the plagues can be thought of as God undoing creation just a little bit. For example: when God created the world, one of the first things he put in it was water. Before he even said “let there be light,” there was water. In Genesis chapter 2, before God formed Adam, he caused streams to come up from the earth and water the ground. The Garden of Eden had a river to water it, which split into four streams, one of which perhaps significantly flowed to Egypt. Water is presented in Genesis as one of the fundamental ingredients of life, which God provided for us.

Continue reading

Exodus 5-11 – The Plagues (part 1)

We’ve seen this week how God answered Moses’ question what is your name by saying, effectively, watch this space. In the chapters which follow, God now proceeds to reveal something of himself through the ten plagues visited on Egypt – plagues designed to force Pharaoh to let God’s people go.

But why ten? I mean, if you gave God only one shot at this, I think he’d get it on the first go. Like David’s first stone killing Goliath. Why draw it all out? Why all the big, showy miracles?

Continue reading