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Love’s Fragrant Ministry
How great the contrast between the plotting in the court of Caiaphas and the love-ministry of Bethany! Yet even there, a strain of needless sorrow was added to the cup of our Lord. While His foes were plotting His destruction, it became necessary for Him to speak on behalf of the devoted woman who was suffering criticism for His Name. It is probable that, of all people then living, Mary was the only one who had really entered into the meaning of the Lord’s words and had realized the scenes of suffering that lay before Him. Through the succeeding hours the aroma of that ointment, lingering still on His person, must have sweetly reminded Jesus how dearly He was loved.
Mary is not named in this Gospel, perhaps because it was written during her lifetime and such a reference might have exposed her to suffering. But in the fourth Gospel she is named, because by that time the whole family had gone into the presence of Him whom they so devotedly loved. Do not be deterred by utilitarian calculations from the spontaneous expression of love to Jesus.
a False Friend Exposed
While Mary sacrificed a large sum of money to show her love to Jesus, Judas sold Him for the hire of a slave. See Zechariah 11:12 .
The Lord had a great desire to eat this last meal with His own; and it was a proof of His loving anticipation of the strain to which they were to be exposed in soul and body, that He had made arrangements for it with some secret disciple. How glad this loving soul must have been to make the loan of that guest chamber!-but have you placed your heart at His disposal? See 1 Corinthians 5:7 .
It was a time of testing as well as of fellowship. None of us should sit at the table of the Lord without careful self-examination and confession. We all need to say, Lord, is it I? and to ask that we may be clad in the white robes through His precious blood. Remember, also, that they who in all humility and self-distrust fear lest they should commit the deed of treachery, are always the ones to whom it will be impossible.
a Self-confident Disciple Warned
The Passover looked back to the dread hour of the Exodus; the Supper links Calvary with the Second Advent. In partaking of it we should not confine ourselves to either retrospect or anticipation, but should endeavor to feed our souls with the very spirit and heart of our dear Lord, so as to absorb His divine strength, sweetness and love. We need to feed on His flesh and drink of His blood after a mystical fashion, so that He may become the Life of our life. The word new is not the same as in Matthew 9:17 , but contrasts, with the present order of things, something entirely different. The former things will have passed away -such was our Lord’s anticipation!
The new covenant is further explained in Hebrews 8:1-13 . It is good to recite its provisions when we sit at the Table. It is as though God and the believer drink of the cup in pledge of that blessed understanding between them. See how our Shepherd eagerly warns one of the sheep that was dear to Him and for which He had pleaded often, Luke 22:31 .
the Hour When the Flesh Was Weak
In human life there is a close connection between our hymns and our olive-presses. We pass from the supper to the garden, from the emblems to the reality. But not all can enter into the fellowship of our Lord’s unknown sufferings. Paul longed to do this that he might realize also the power of His resurrection, Philippians 3:10 . Our Lord longs for the sympathy which will keep awake for love of Him, though it may not understand all that is in His heart!
Notice that though the cup seemed to be mixed and presented by human hands, our Lord refused to see in it these alone, but went behind them to the permissive will of God the Father. It is this thought that extracts bitterness from the bitterest cup. In the same sentence Jesus bade the disciples sleep on and arise. It was as though He knew and felt that though the past had gone beyond recall, yet further opportunities and testings were awaiting them and Him. These they would encounter and share in company. He is always saying to us, however unworthy- Let us be going.
Betrayed and Forsaken
We cannot fathom the secret thoughts of the traitor. Did he hope that his act would compel Christ to take the course of self-vindication, which His mighty acts appeared to make possible? It seems unthinkable that there was not some explanation other than mere greed! Yet, when we look into our own hearts, can we be altogether surprised? How often have we betrayed the Lord by our reticence, when we should have spoken; by the kiss of the lip, when we were selfishly exploiting our association with Him to our own advantage!
Our Lord did not die a martyr’s death. The martyr is led to the scaffold or stake because he is overpowered by superior force. But our Lord knew that the invisible world was full of help if only He had expressed the slightest wish. Others die because they are born; He was born that He might die. “He laid down His life that He might take it again.” He would not receive help from the Father, or the angels, or Peter’s sword, but poured out His soul unto death, because of a love that was stronger than death. See 1 Peter 2:21 , etc .
the True Answer to False Witness
This meeting of the Jewish leaders had been hastily summoned; but their difficulty was to substantiate a charge that would warrant the death sentence. They had to go back to the beginning of Christ’s ministry for the one charge that seemed sufficient for their purpose. But see John 2:19 ; Mark 14:58 . In the meanwhile our Lord opened not His mouth. He left His reputation in the care of the Father, to whom He also committed His soul. It is a good example to follow. Do what is right and let God vindicate you!
It was only when Jesus was directly challenged as to His unique relationship to God, that He opened His lips. There is an evident reference in His words to Daniel 7:13-14 . The court instantly recognized that in His reply He claimed to be equal with God. To be the Son of God was to be God. See also John 5:18 . Note that word henceforth, which suggests that though it is hidden from us, the Kingdom is already set up, as was David’s even when Saul was still on the throne.
“Ashamed of Jesus!”
What a shameful travesty of justice! When men yield themselves to violence like this, their passion condemns them as perpetrating the devil’s work. But in the whirlwind of abuse and horror, the one thing that hurt our Lord was the defection of Peter, Luke 22:61 .
It was love that led him to dare to follow to the court. John contrived to get him in, John 18:16 . But he stood too near the fire amid that motley group, who were discussing their night adventure. He had been too self-confident, John 13:36 ; he had not watched unto prayer, Matthew 26:40 . The more he cursed and swore, the more he betrayed his Galilean brogue. Ah, the agony that ensued! Did he rush off to Gethsemane, and throw himself on the bent grass, where the form of the Master had so recently lain prostrate? Did his tears mingle with the sweat of blood? But Jesus loved him still, and was preparing a propitiation that would cleanse his sin, as He had already secured that his faith should not fail, Luke 22:32 .
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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Matthew 26". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29