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The Preparations for Christ's Death (Matthew Sermon 137 of 151)

The Preparations for Christ's Death (Matthew Sermon 137 of 151)

March 10, 2013 | Andrew Davis
Matthew 26:1-16

sermon transcript

 

Introduction

When the apostle John was in exile on the island of Patmos, the Lord Jesus appeared to him, and at one point, said to him, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, I am the beginning and the end, I am the first and the last." There are many ways to understand those words, but I'm going to apply them to the issue of history, the unfolding of events in human history.  As we come to Matthew 26 through 28, we come to a narrative section of the Gospel of Matthew, in which the history of the greatest events that has ever happened on this Earth are unfolded for us. We have the steps that Jesus Christ took toward the cross, toward his death on the cross, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. We have that laid out for us in detail, and also his burial and his glorious resurrection on the third day. As I've said before that there is no religion on the face of the Earth for which history is so important as Christianity. We rely on the facts recorded in this story to be true. The apostle Paul said if they're not true, we're all wasting our time as Christians. But thanks be to God, they are true.

Christ was crucified according to the scriptures. He was buried, and on the third day, He was raised to life, according to the scriptures. When the text says, in 1 Corinthians 15, “according to the scriptures”, what that means is that God had planned this whole thing out before the foundation of the world.  Daniel said, quoting from 2 Timothy, "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” before the world began, but now it has been revealed and made known by the ministry of the gospel. We have this history laid out for us. We come to the final steps in Matthew's Gospel, this glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ as He took the fateful steps to the cross. I believe the cross of Jesus Christ is the center of all of human history. Some people have denied that history has any significance at all, those same people deny that life has any significance at all. Some people think, in the words of Shakespeare, that “history is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” But that is not true. 

It's not a tale told by an idiot; it does signify something. It signifies the glory of God in the salvation of sinners like you and me from every tribe and language and people and nation. That's what this story is about, that God may get glory by sinners being saved. The cross is right at the center of that. History has a purpose; it has a direction. There's an Alpha and there is an Omega, and Jesus is both the Alpha and the Omega and every letter in between. There's an unfolding story here, and the cross is at the center. As one hymn writer put it, "In the cross of Christ I glory, towering over the wrecks of time. All the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime." Everything focuses on the cross. In the Western world, we divide history in halves, BC, before Christ, and AD, in the year of our Lord. And the cross is right at the center of that. The cross is at the center of human history. It's why the Son of God came to Earth. It says in Matthew 20: 28, "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The Picture of the Cross in the Old Testament

The cross, the work of Jesus Christ on the cross is prefigured throughout history. In Romans chapter 1:2, "Paul is an apostle of the gospel.” The gospel, He promised beforehand in the holy scriptures."  God prefigured this, He predicted it, He gave it for us so that we would know what it meant when Jesus Christ came. For instance, in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree, and they realized, their eyes were opened, they realized they were naked, and they felt ashamed. They hid from one another, and they hid from God. Then God slayed an animal, it's blood was shed, and He covered Adam and Eve. That dead animal was a picture of the cross of Christ.

So also, was Abel, a sacrifice of the firstborn from the flock, acceptable to God, is a picture of Christ's saving work. So also, was Noah's Ark floating safely above the floods of the wrath of God, a safe haven, a refuge, the only one on the planet, the only place you could be, if the breath of life was in your nostrils, the only place you could be and be safe was in Noah's Ark. It’s a picture of the salvation that God has worked for us in Christ. So also, that ram in the thicket caught by its horns on Mount Moriah, when God had commanded Abraham to take his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved, and to offer him as a burnt offering to God, and the angel of the Lord stopped him, and then there was that ram that died in the place of his son.

The exodus of Egypt was a picture of the saving work of Christ. As the people of God were in bondage, they were in slavery, they could not rescue themselves, and God by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm delivered them through Moses. It was a picture of the saving work of Christ on the cross, and in that time, in that era, the Passover lamb that was slaughtered and its blood was painted on the door posts, in the lintel, and the angel of the Lord saw that blood and passed over and would not bring the death that the inhabitants of that house deserved, because he saw the blood. The Passover lamb, a picture of the saving work of Christ. Every animal sacrifice that was ever offered in the Levitical era was a picture of the saving work of Christ. The substitutionary atoning work of Christ. As we come to Matthew 26 through 28, we're ascending step-by-step gradually to the cross, and we're coming to the centerpiece of all of human history, the saving work of Jesus Christ for sinners on the cross and at the empty tomb.

The apostle Paul in his ministry made this commitment. He said in 1 Corinthians 2: 2, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Now we know that he taught many things, even details of theology, but when he was saying that he was saying that the cross of Christ, Christ crucified is the center of his theology, and he could never preach without proclaiming Christ and him crucified. As he says in another place, in Galatians 6:14, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world." Let's make that our central boast. The central boast of my life is the cross of Jesus Christ, of Christ crucified. In Matthew 26, we see step-by-step now, preparation for the cross. We're going to talk about preparations and predictions that were made in the Old Testament era, in the lavish worship that this woman Mary does in preparing him for burial, and in the betrayal of Judas for 30 pieces of silver.

In subsequent weeks, we're going to see the Last Supper, we're going to see Gethsemane, the arrest and trial of Jesus, we're going to see Peter's denial, three-fold denial, we're going to see the crucifixion and the burial of Jesus, and then gloriously his resurrection and the great commission at the end of Matthew's gospel, that's where we're heading. Where have we been? As you look at Matthew 26:1, it says, "When Jesus had finished saying these things, he said to his disciples,” so I think there's just a flow from Matthew 24 and 25, right into chapter 26:1. Jesus had been teaching them many things about the end of the world, about the second coming of Christ, about the destruction of the temple.  Jesus left in Matthew 23, crying out, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how often I've longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"  Then He walked out, the glory of Israel, walked out of the temple of God, and it departed. The disciples came and said, "Look at these magnificent stones," speaking of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem, and Jesus said, "Do you see all these stones? I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another, everyone will be thrown down." The disciples were distressed by this and came to him in private and said, "When will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"  Matthew 24 and 25 is the answer to that question. 

I'm very tempted to go ahead and just preach them again, but we're going to go ahead into 26 now, but Jesus said be ready, the end is going to come at a time you're not aware of like a thief in the night, you need to be ready. He told them how they could be ready and at the very end, the story of the sheep and the goats. It's just an analogy, but about the Second Coming and judgment that's going to come.  When the Son of Man comes, when Jesus comes, He will come in his Father's glory and all the holy angels will be with him. He will sit on his throne in heavenly glory, and all the nations will be gathered before him. He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He's going to put the sheep in his right and the goats in his left. he's gonna say to the sheep in his right, "Come you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." And He's going to say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."  Now the question comes on what basis is that division made? What is the basis of the separation between the sheep and the goats? What's the difference? That's what Matthew 26 through 28 answers. It's because Jesus shed his blood on the cross for those people called sheep, that's why they are qualified for the inheritance of heaven, not because of anything that they have done, but because of the mercy of God. 

The Cross was Predestined

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, He said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” We come now to the preparations made for the Passover, and then for the death of the true Passover lamb, who is Jesus. The cross was predestined before the foundation of the world. It was prepared and predestined. God wasn't making this up as he went along. Everything had been laid out, everything had been planned, as John himself saw in the island of Patmos. He calls Jesus the lamb that was slain before the creation of the world. What a mysterious expression that is, but Jesus, in some sense, was slain from the creation of the world [Revelation 13:8].  Peter puts it the same way in 1 Peter 1 when he says, “You were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect,” pointing to the Passover lamb. “He was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”  Jesus was chosen out as our substitutionary lamb before the world began. By this plan then all human actors, all of Jesus' enemies, including Judas and Caiaphas and Herod and Pontius Pilate and the chief priests, all of the enemies of Christ are operating on a divine plan laid out before the foundation of the world. Peter preached this very plainly in his Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:23. He says, “Jesus was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge, and you with the help of wicked men have put Him to death nailing Him to the cross.” This is the plan of God. The church prayed the same thing in Acts chapter 4:27-28, “Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant, Jesus. They did what your power and will had predestined should happen.”  So, everything, not just the cross itself, but the details of what led up to the cross were predestined, laid out in the plan of God before the foundation of the world, and now being acted out in space and time, being acted out in history by people who didn't know necessarily that they were acting on the plans of God. I don't think any of them, even Jesus' friends understood it, but certainly not Jesus' enemies. 

What we need to keep in mind then is the events of this story of Matthew 26 and 27. The events of Christ's arrest and his suffering and his crucifixion are not some tragic accident, some twist of fate, some strange, bad luck that happened to a really good man who was trying to help people and got trapped or caught in a maelstrom of politics and jealousy and petty plots that were over his head, that he couldn't control, so that people would say, even at that time, "He saved others, but he can't save himself." Don't you believe it. He could have saved himself at any time.  Jesus made this very, very plain in John 10:18, "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down freely of my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back up again, this command I received from my Father." This is a transaction, Jesus is saying, between my father and I, and no one has the power to kill me if I didn't give them that power. He could have stopped it at any time.

Matthew, I think especially, gives us a lot of Jesus' own statements at this time, which Mark and Luke don't as much, they just unfold the history. Matthew says Jesus predicted it and he speaks the words through Jesus. “When Jesus had finished saying all these things, He said to his disciples the Passover is two days away and the son of man will be handed over to be crucified.” Mark and Luke just say the Passover is two days away, and Jesus was about to be handed over to be crucified, but Jesus speaks the words in Matthew's Gospel.

Jesus' power to predict the future proves his deity. He's been predicting this thing again and again in the Gospel of Matthew, and this is the fourth and final prediction in the gospel of Matthew of these very events. It began back in Caesarea Philippi, remember when he asked the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” and got the answers. “But what about you?”, and Peter gave that incredible testimony, “You are the Christ, son of the living God.” [Matthew 16:21] For the first time in Matthew's Gospel, it says, from then on, from that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that He must be killed, and on the third day be raised to life. So again, and again, He warns them. John's Gospel tells us a little more clearly why He did this ahead of time. In John 14:29, Jesus said, “I’ve told you now before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe that I am.” It's what it says in the Greek. Usually, they add the words, “I am he” or “I am the one I claim to be”, but it's just “I am”.  “So that you may believe that I am God, I predicted all of this ahead of time, including my own arrest. So, when it's happening, do not think of me as weak and a victim caught in events that I can't control. I am laying down my life for you.” This was no accident, and the timing of it was no accident. Was it an accident that Jesus died at the same time that the Passover was being celebrated? It's no accident at all, the timing of this was perfect, the Passover was a beautiful picture of what Jesus seeking to accomplish on the cross, which is very hard for us to understand. How could a dead Jewish man 2000 years ago benefit me at all? The animal sacrificial system, the death of the animal, the animal sacrifice points to it, the lessons of substitution, of the shedding of blood, of the substitutionary victim who dies and whose blood then averts the wrath of God. There's a clear picture of that in the night of the tenth plague when the angel of death passed over when he saw the blood.

John the Baptist pointed at Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."  Jesus was precisely that. The fulfillment of all of this. Notice the timing. Isn't it marvelous how God's timing is perfect, and the timing of Jesus' enemies is all wrong? They got it all wrong.  They are orchestrating Jesus' arrest, secretly by some tricky means, right? But what do they say right here in this text? Not during the feast, they said, or there may be a riot among the people. When did it happen? During the feast. How is that? Because they're not in charge, they're not in control. God wanted it during the feast to fulfill the imagery of the feast.

It's just as it said in Luke 22: 22, "The Son of Man will go just as it was decreed." He's going to go exactly when it was decreed and how it was decreed, and there's nothing that man can do about it. The Jewish leaders would love to have squirreled him away in some quiet little holding cell until all of the throngs of pilgrims were gone, and then they could dispose of him without having to deal with popular opinion. Look at how the enemies are plotting his demise, verses 3 through 5, "Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill Him, but not during the feast they said or there may be a riot among the people." Caiaphas, one of the most evil man in history, the high priest, a puppet really under his father-in-law, Annas and under the Romans ultimately.  Jesus was a threat to them. They were jealous of him, they were jealous of his hold over the people, jealous of his strange ability to perform miracles. The attributed these miracles to Beelzebub. But they were mostly concerned about their position in the religious machinery there in Jerusalem, which was very lucrative for them, as they were making lots of money off the animal sacrificial system, a whole machinery which was bringing them tons of money, and Jesus was overturning benches and scattering pigeons and throwing coins out of the temple and messing up their whole operation, and so they wanted him dead. But not during the feast, they said, or there may be a riot. The feast would have been the worst time for them as far as they were concerned to kill him. They were very afraid of the people. Isn't it beautiful? It says in Proverbs 19: 21, “Many are the plans of a man's heart, but it's the Lord's purpose that prevails.” And so, it is in this case.  

Preparation for the Cross

Secondly, we see the preparation through a woman's love and faith, her sacrificial act of faith and love. Look at verses 6 and 7, the act is described for us. While Jesus was in Bethany, in the home of a man known as Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as He was reclining at the table. All four of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, have an anointing story. In Luke's gospel, it happens earlier and it's different, it's a sinful woman there who's known for her sinful life, and she anoints Jesus' feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. But the other accounts in Matthew, Mark and John, all happened later. It seems that it's the same as what happened in John, that this is actually Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who's doing this anointing. She's a godly woman. We know the story about Martha and Mary and Lazarus, mostly from John's Gospel.

The location is given as the home of Simon the leper in Bethany, east of Jerusalem, just a couple miles away, and this woman is, she's not identified in Matthew's gospel, but we feel fairly certain that it was Mary, Lazarus and Martha's sister. She breaks this alabaster jar, you could picture a very slender necked, alabaster jar, which itself would have been very, very costly, filled with this incredibly expensive perfume, this liquid, which could be poured out. She broke the neck of this alabaster jar and just pours it on his head. It comes flowing down his hair, this overwhelmingly lavish gift. I know it's sometimes called an ointment, but I picture an ointment as a little bit thicker. It wouldn't come running down, I think it was a liquid, more like a perfume, maybe thick liquid.  When she does this, it says that the whole house was filled with the aroma of this expensive gift. It seemed to waft from Jesus and moved until every room in the house was filled with this aroma.

It was an overwhelmingly extravagant offering. Judas who knew how to price things, he was good at money, he valued it at about a year's wage —300 denarii. Denari is a day's wage, so that's about a year's worth of wages for a laborer. In our time it'd be... I don't know, $30,000 to $50,000 poured out on Jesus' head, down on the ground. When the disciples saw this, it says they were indignant. All of them were, it wasn't just Judas, they were indignant.  This waste they asked, “This perfume could have been sold at a very high price, and the money given to the poor.”  John goes more into Judas' heart, to find out exactly what's going on in Judas' mind at this moment, John 12:5-6, says, “Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages.” It seems like Judas was the spokesman at that point for all of their thoughts. But John goes on in John 12:6, Judas did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. So that was Judas' motive, but really all of the disciples, it seems were thinking the same thing.

Isn't it amazing how off the twelve were in the last hours of Jesus' life? I mean, really, how messed up they were, how off-message they were. It's really a very shameful record of their behavior there on the last night. They're completely out of step here sharing Judas' mentality. We'll talk more about that, but it gets worse. They spent time that very night arguing about which of them was the greatest, which I think led to Jesus washing their feet. Judas, he's one of the twelve, he's about to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Peter arrogantly boasted that even if all of the other eleven fell away, he never would. He's better than all of them. They failed to watch and pray in Gethsemane as Jesus told them to do several times, but just kept falling asleep. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, one of the most disgusting acts in human history. All the rest of them, once Jesus is betrayed, deserted him and fled. Peter denied him three times before the rooster crowed. All in all, it was a very shameful display, and these were the chosen ones, these were the ones that Christ chose to build his church upon at the human level. This is a display to me of depravity and of our need for a savior. We wouldn't think for a moment, just as, also in the case of Adam, that we would have done any better than Adam did in the garden, or that they would have done that night. We need a savior. We are broken sinners; we cannot save ourselves. And this is after watching Jesus for three years and listening to him teach for three years, this is who they were.

Now, the woman is defended by Jesus. Look at Verses 10 - 12, Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She's done a beautiful thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.”  I don't think there's anything wrong with asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” But the more you read the Gospel accounts, the more surprising a figure Jesus turns out to be. So sometimes you're not sure what he would do, so I think it's good for us to study and try to answer the question, but would you have predicted... Especially after the sheep and the goats thing, that Jesus would have defended the pouring out of a year's worth of wages on his head. Down it went all over the floor, I wouldn't have predicted that. I think that the apostles were all thinking the same thing - that Jesus was off at this moment.

But instead, he rebuked the disciples, “Why are you bothering this woman? Stop bothering her.” And he defended her actions, “She has done a beautiful thing for me.” The Greek word here for “beautiful” means morally pure, it's a sense of moral purity here, a sense of the beauty of its goodness. Then He quotes Deuteronomy 15:11, “There will always be poor people in the land, therefore, I command you to be open-handed and generous towards your brothers, toward the poor and needy in your land.” Mark adds an interesting phrase at this moment [Mark 14:7], “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.” We'll get back to that phrase later in the sermon, that phrase haunts me every day. Do I want to help the poor today? Jesus said, I can help them any time I want. We'll get back to that. Basically, though, for the rest of your lives, you'll be surrounded by poor and needy people, but you will not always have me, He said. 

Then He gives the real significance, she was preparing Jesus' body for burial. This was a shocking reminder of that which they all seemed to be forgetting, Jesus was about to die. I don't think any of them really fully got it, except this woman.  Now, this is Mary, who I think was a very contemplative person, who sat at Jesus' feet and pondered deeply Jesus' teachings and took them to heart and believed that what He said was true. “Oh, you're about to die.” Maybe it's because she had no ambitions for sitting at the right hand and left hand in the kingdom, and all that, her mind wasn't twisted by delusions of grandeur in the coming kingdom, and so she was able to just listen to what He said and said to herself, “I know he's about to die,” and so she lavishes this to prepare him for burial. Then Jesus says an incredible thing. Look at Verse 13, He says, “I tell you truth, wherever this Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” Isn't that marvelous. Jesus' death would not end this movement. There is a story to tell the nations, and that story, not might be told, but it most certainly will be told, throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come [ Matthew 24:14].

But riding along with the proclamation of the gospel, comes this additional story It's not at the center of the gospel, it's not the Gospel, but it's a detail, and Jesus made her a promise in effect saying; it would be told as a memorial to her. That prophecy is being fulfilled right now. This is a long way away from Jerusalem. Many thousands of nautical miles, many 2000 years, and we're still telling the story, Jesus had it right. We are honoring what she did. Now we need to understand this act properly, we need to understand its uniqueness, and also its pattern for us. There is a uniqueness to what she did that can never be repeated again. It's a unique moment in redemptive history, Jesus' own words say it. The poor you'll always have with you, but you're never going to have this moment again. This is a significant moment right here, “You're not going to have me like this again. She's preparing me for burial, you will never need to prepare me for burial again, I will die, but I'll die just once for all time, and I will be buried, but I'll never be buried again. This is a once for all this evening here.” She seemed to recognize that, and so it's utterly unique what she did, completely unique, and yet, and yet, it's a pattern for all of us of lavish worship focused on Jesus. We have that jar broken and spilled out, which comes right from this account.  Jesus said, “This is a unique moment, it will never again be repeated”, and she seemed to recognize that.

What is so beautiful about that? Her action was based on faith, she believed Jesus' words, she believed that he would die, she heard and believed, and so her actions were based on faith in the Word of God. Secondly, it was loving, it was a display of her love for Jesus, it was poured out of a heart of love of affection for Him. Thirdly, it was lavishly sacrificial, it was costly. The true measure of love is sacrifice; how much love is willing to give. She was willing to give all that she had and poured it out on Him, it reflects the generosity of God the Father in pouring out His Son for us. This lavish gift by God the Father drew forth from her a lavish gift back, and that's a perfect picture of worship. I think that's what worship is. God moves first, He loves us. We move second, we love because He first loved us, and that's worship. And then fourth, it recognized the supremacy of Christ over all. Yes, it's right to serve the poor and needy, it's right and good, but we were created for worship and Christ is the center of worship, and so this Christ-centeredness in her mind was appropriate even above ministry to the poor and needy. It's more important to minister directly to Christ and to worship Him than even giving to the poor and needy and preaching the gospel. Anything that we do vertically toward Christ is superior to anything we do horizontally, but we know from the sheep and the goats, they are intimately connected together. We don't have Jesus with us anymore, but every time we minister to one of his children in his name we're ministering to Him, and so in the end it becomes vertical as well. 

Finally, we see preparation through a disciple’s treacherous betrayal in verses 14-16, “Then one of the twelve, the one called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priest and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me?’” Just ponder that for a moment, in light of what we just talked about, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They counted out for him 30 silver coins, and from then on, Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Do you not see the shocking contrast between Mary and Judas? Mary is all about what she can give. How can I pour myself out? Including money, year's wages. Judas was all about, what can I get. What I think happened in all of the accounts, the ordering is the same, we have the anointing of Jesus, and then immediately Judas goes and trades Jesus in for 30 pieces of silver. I think what happened is he saw that the game was up, the franchise was about to go down and began losing a bunch of money, and so he thought it's time to sell the stock while I can. That's about what happened. All he cared about was money, he had no love for Jesus, he had no faith in Christ, and so it was about money, and it seemed like if we're going to be throwing out a year's worth of wages on the ground, I'm out of here. He goes and trades him in. Satan, according to Luke 22, entered Judas, and it was because of that. Look at this disgusting price, 30 pieces of silver, a direct prophecy from Zechariah 11, where the prophet there says, “If you think it best give me my wages, but if not, then keep them.” So, they paid out 30 pieces of silver, and then the Lord said to him, “Throw them to the potter, that handsome price at which they valued me.” That's what it says in Zechariah 11. Prophecy —

30 pieces, temple, thrown, potter. Those are four details. We'll get to that in due time, but not today. They measured out 30 pieces of silver. Here's my question, what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? I sometimes picture Judas in hell, seeing the 30 pieces of silver, may be in a 6x5 matrix, 30 silver coins there while he's in anguish. I don't think it was just this one action, but still. What would it profit a man to gain the whole world? It wouldn't, but he did it for 30 pieces of silver. We should not minimize the pain of the betrayal to Jesus, we'll get into that more later, but it says in Psalm 41, “Even my close friend with whom I trusted, who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Judas agreed to basically be the eyes and ears and the liaison for Jesus' enemies and hand Him over at a suitable time.

Application

What application can we take from these 16 verses? First and foremost, dear friends, come to Christ, come to faith in Christ, believe in Him. Christ is the Passover sacrifice; his blood was shed on the cross for sinners like you and me. Do not think for a moment, “I’m better than the disciples, I am better than Judas, those aren't the thoughts to have here, instead, you should say, “I need a Savior like that, I'm a sinner, I've broken God's laws, I've lied, I've sinned, I've dishonored my parents. I have not loved God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I have not loved my neighbors as myself, I am not ready to face God on Judgment Day, I don't want to go to hell. Oh, save me, save me, Jesus, save me.” If you say that, He will save you. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Just call on the name of Jesus, say, “I want heaven and not hell, I want forgiveness and not condemnation,” He will save you.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the wisdom of God and the power of God. Believe in that. If you've already come to faith in Christ, will you not marvel with me at the elaborate detail of the plan of God, how it was planned before the foundation of the world, how Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the Earth, and how Jesus' enemies did what God had willed ahead of time should happen. Rest in that. Be confident in that. This world is not spinning out of control, God is sovereign on his throne. He has orchestrated even the smallest details of human history. Thirdly, imitate Mary's life of devotion, her life of devotion to Christ. We have said and we must acknowledge the utter uniqueness in redemptive history, never again will there be any need to anoint Jesus' head to prepare him for burial.  Having died, He never dies again, death no longer has mastery over him. He has risen, hallelujah. There's no need for that. But still, Mary's generosity is a paradigm example of how we should be living our lives, start with faith, read in the scripture and find out what God doing in the world. What does He want you to do? In Mary's case, it was, “Oh, Jesus is about to die.”  That's not our case, that's not what's about to happen, Jesus is coming again, and we're supposed to look ahead to the day of God and speed it's coming, that's got to be through our witness, our testimony, the good deeds that we do to serve Christ. So, start with faith. Secondly, love. You're reading in the Scripture and Let the Holy Spirit pour out the love of God into your hearts. First and foremost, for Jesus, allow the Spirit to move affection for Jesus in you. We sin when we don't love Jesus enough, we sin when our affection for Christ is insufficient, and we go to idols instead.

Say, “Lord, I want to love you more, my love for you is imperfect, It's too small. Would you please increase my love for you? Give me the kind of love that Mary displayed when she poured out that year's worth of wages on your head.” Thirdly, sacrificial, make your life a sacrifice. Make your faith in Christ cost you something. Make it costly. Start with your body. He's not looking for a year's worth of wages and a perfume to be poured out. Start with your body. Present your body as a living sacrifice. The Apostle Paul did. Didn't he say at the end of his life, even if I am being poured out like a drink offering, then be poured out.  Say, “God, I want to spend myself for you and for your glory. Then Christ exalting, saturate your mind in the greatness of Christ and focus on him that everything you do may be for his glory. I want to finish with one application concerning ministry of the poor and needy. Remember how I said, there's that haunting phrase in Mark 14:7, The poor, you'll always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. Any time you want. Do you want to? Do you want to? And if you don't, then repent. That's where I'm at, that's what Mark 14:7 does to me. If I don't want to help the poor and needy, then I need to repent, and so make my life a poured-out fragrant offering to God for the poor and needy.

The ultimate poverty in the world is spiritual poverty. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” so let's start with those who are poor because they don't know Christ, they're lost. Does that matter to you? Are you concerned about it? Please forgive me my scientific side here, thinking about the principle of diffusion. What is diffusion? Well, when that jar was broken, it started happening, and it just kind of wafted up out of the bottle and just started to spread, and when it was poured out, it just really started to spread at that point, and every room in the house was filled with that fragrance— diffusion. Jesus actually talks about the same thing in another sense in the text. He says, “Wherever this Gospel is preached throughout the world,” that's a different kind of diffusion, isn't it? “You'll receive power, and the Holy Spirit comes on you and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth”— diffusion. What's in the bottle?  What's in you so that when the cap gets broken off, what comes wafting out? Take a minute, if you would, and look at 1 Corinthians:14-16. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ, and through us, spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God, the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing, to the one the smell of death, and to the other, the fragrance of life.” Who is equal to such a task? This is where it starts. Jesus said in Matthew 12:35, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So, when your top is broken off, you know what I'm getting at, and what's inside you wafts out, is it worth listening to? Is it the knowledge of Christ? As that wafts out, are you for some people, the stench of death, so that they're persecuting you because they just can't stand that smell because they can smell their own condemnation. To others, are you the aroma of life because they can just feel the love of God through Christ in your life? If not, then make sure that the good stuff's getting poured in the bottle. Fill your hearts with scripture, take away the idols of this world, the worldliness and all that, and say, “Oh God, fill me with the word, fill me with the Gospel, fill me with the knowledge of Christ, so that when the top of the bottle is broken off what wafts out is worth smelling.”

Close with me in prayer, please. Father, we thank you for the beauty of the Gospel, we thank you for the beauty of what Mary did, and Lord, help us to imitate it, but ultimately the center of this text is Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Thank you for Him, and may we trust in him and in Him alone for the forgiveness of our sins. In Jesus name, Amen.

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