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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Handed Over to Be Crucified
Text:Matthew 26:1-13 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Suffering
 
Added:2024-05-31
Updated:2024-06-01
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

O For a Thousand Tongues 
From Out of the Depths I Cry    
Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended
What Wondrous Love Is This    

Note for reading services: This was a preparatory sermon, but it can be used on a regular Sunday by omitting the sentences in parentheses.

 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


“Handed Over to Be Crucified”
Matthew 26:1-13
 
We see a tremendous contrast as Matthew begins a new section in chapter 26. In the closing verses of Matthew 25 we saw how Jesus will return in great glory and honor to separate the sheep from the goats. He will judge the living and the dead. And through that judgment his grace, glory, and deity will be acknowledged by everyone who has ever lived, as every knee will bow before him and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
 
But after that description of the exaltation of Christ, chapter 26 begins by describing the humiliation that Jesus would endure before the exaltation. Jesus tells his disciples in verse 1 and 2 that the Passover is two days away and that he will be handed over to be crucified. The passage relates to us in every way – it brings us to the heart of the gospel, that Christ laid down his life for sinners – (but it also applies to us in a special way as we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper next Sunday morning.)
 
First, the passage reminds us of the significance of the Passover to the crucifixion of Jesus, for Christ is “our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7). It is hard for us to grasp the enormity of the celebration of Passover. Many of you have watched the Olympics; you have seen the large crowds and the focused attention of the nations on that event. Those great crowds are similar to the thousands of people who flooded into Jerusalem for the Passover feast. They brought with them lambs to be sacrificed; Josephus, the reliable Jewish historian, records that over 256,000 lambs were sacrificed at the Feast. 
 
As you can imagine, when you get that many people together there is a greater likelihood of demonstrations and riots. That’s why the chief priests and elders, in their plot to arrest and kill Jesus, said in verse 4, “But not during the feast or there may be a riot among the people.”
 
After all, the people had hailed Jesus as their King just a few days earlier on the day we call “Palm Sunday.” And they were looking to him to be a political king. What a king he would make: He could heal the sick! He could feed the poor! He could even raise the dead! Make him president! Make him king!
 
The Jewish people expected that the long-awaited Messiah would be a political king. They wanted a political king because they reasoned that they would be released from the rule of the Romans through political power. And what better time would there be for the kingship of Jesus to release the Jews from Roman rule than at the Passover?
 
After all, the Passover was a remembrance of how the Lord had delivered Israel so long ago from bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt. The great masses of people who had hailed Jesus as king when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey were anticipating the king who would liberate Israel from the grip of Roman rule and establish them as a sovereign nation again. 
 
These same people turned against Jesus and mocked and ridiculed him when they realized that he had no intention of fulfilling their agenda for him. He had no intention of being a political king. He had no intention of removing the yoke of Roman rule from the Jews. He had no intention of restoring Israel to the status of a nation, free and sovereign from other lands.
 
Instead of a political king, we see in this passage the willingness of Christ to be our substitute in taking the curse of our sin upon himself. He willingly became the Passover Lamb that all the lambs were pointing to. In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Paul writes: “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 
 
And that sacrifice was not a forced sacrifice. It wasn’t because of the Jewish leaders or Pilate or the Roman army that Jesus was crucified. They all had a part in it, but Jesus himself is the One who orchestrated the crucifixion. We see that written between the lines in the first five verses. In the first two verses, Jesus is predicting his death. He says, Two days and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Meanwhile, the chief priest and the elders were plotting how they might kill Jesus, but they set a wholly different timeline "But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” (v. 5)
 
This passage clearly teaches us that God’s plans supersede the plots of men. As Peter declared to the Jewish leaders, in his speech at Pentecost, in Acts 2:23: “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”
 
God’s plans will always succeed. Even when the plans of the wicked seem to be in control, God’s plans will prevail. As Psalm 34:10-11 point out:
 
The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.
 
Likewise, Proverbs 19:21 reminds us: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” And that is still true today as our risen and ascended Savior and Lord governs all things and controls all things from the right hand of God the Father Almighty. 
 
Christ, Our Passover Lamb
 
(As we take of the cup and eat of the bread next Sunday morning), remember that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. He willingly gave of himself. He even orchestrated all events leading to his crucifixion on this most important of days, the celebration of the Passover. By doing so he allowed himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter.
 
When Israel was delivered from bondage in Egypt, the Passover was instituted. You recall how each family was instructed to sacrifice a Passover lamb and spread its blood on the doorposts of their home. When the LORD saw the blood on the doorposts, he passed over those homes with his righteous and proper judgment. By doing so he foreshadowed the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb.
 
Through saving faith in Christ we are passed over for judgment. Jesus bore the judgment we deserve as he took the curse of our sin upon himself. He was given a body, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary, so that he would have blood, blood that he would shed on the cross of Calvary to propitiate – to cover our sins – and appease the righteous and proper wrath of our triune God against our sin.
 
It is essential that Christ took on human flesh with a body like ours, not only so that he would shed his blood to save us from our sins, but also to take our identity. Since man sinned, a man must pay the debt of sin. But no human could ever pay that debt. Only God could and did. He did so by sending his Son, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, true eternal God, yet born in human flesh to perfectly represent us. (Hebrews 2:14-18)
 
In describing Christ as our Passover Lamb, 1 Corinthians 5:7 tells us to “cleanse out the old leaven”, meaning we turn from sin, striving to live holy, pure lives out of gratitude for the redeeming work of Christ. We are called to holy living, not just on Sunday, (and not just in a week of preparation for the Lord’s Supper) but every day that God grants us grace to live.
 
But by way of application this morning (as we prepare for the Lord’s Supper) consider how this woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume was so perceptive of what was about to happen, even though the disciples seemed less able to fully grasp what was about to happen.
 
From the parallel account in John 12 we know that the woman who anointed Jesus was Mary, the sister to Martha and Lazarus. John writes that this anointing took place six days before the Passover. Matthew includes the account of Christ’s anointing here, two days before the Passover because he writes along themes, whereas John treats this, as he does with most of his writing, chronologically. 
 
The skeptic looks at this passage and says, “See, Matthew made an error. He forgot that this anointing took place six days before the Passover and he includes it in Matthew 26, right after Jesus says, As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” The skeptic says, “This is yet another example of how the Bible is filled with errors.”
 
But as Christians we would say just the opposite. That Matthew includes the account of the anointing here shows that as the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of Scripture to write, he used their natural inclinations even as he inspired them. Throughout his gospel, Matthew presents subjects, not in a timeline as John does, but in a theme. The theme that Jesus has spoken about is his death. In Matthew’s mind, as he is inspired by the Holy Spirit, this is an excellent time – an infallible time – to point out the significance of the anointing, even though the anointing had been done six days before the Passover. 1
 
The significance of the anointing is that only honorable people were anointed for burial. Criminals, such as the two thieves who were crucified on the cross with Jesus, would never be anointed. And even honorable citizens, whose bodies were anointed upon their deaths, did not receive such a costly oil as this very expensive perfume that Mary poured on Jesus.
 
It was costly. It was no cheap imitation of a costly perfume. It was the real thing. John 12:5 points out that it was worth 300 denarii which amounted to an average man’s wage for a year. Because it was costly you might expect that Mary would use it sparingly. After all, even a small amount would fill the room with a beautiful aroma. But no, she poured the entire bottle on Jesus!  She poured it on his head and continued to pour it until it was empty. It ran down his head, his neck, his shoulders. She continued to pour even pouring some on Jesus’ feet, and then wiping his feet with her hair, as John describes.
 
The disciples couldn’t understand why Mary would do this. They didn’t understand that she was pouring out her heart to Jesus. As William Hendriksen pointed out: “The true meaning of what happened here will never be grasped until it is realized that when Mary was pouring out her perfume, she was also pouring out her heart, filled with genuine...love, gratitude and devotion.”  (New Testament Commentary on Matthew, pg. 899)
 
The disciples didn’t understand this. In verse 8 we read how When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked.”
 
Sitting at the Feet of Jesus
 
The question could be asked: “Why did Mary understand something of the imminent nature of Jesus’ death, while the disciples seemed clueless?” One reason is that Mary was perhaps the best listener Jesus had. She was someone who truly hung on every word Jesus spoke, relished it, and tried to live by it. We see that in a number of passages, with the best known one being when Jesus was at the home of Martha and Mary for a meal. Luke describes the scene:
 
Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
     “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:40-42)
 
The same thing happens to us, doesn’t it? We get so caught up in the activities – even perhaps good activities in themselves – that we miss the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from him. Even though he has ascended into heaven we still can, and must in a real sense, “sit at his feet” as Mary did and learn from him.
 
We learn about him from his word, for John 1:14 tells us that The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Likewise, Colossians 2:3 describes how in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” And many Psalms point us to Christ and describe how we learn about him by reading his word.
 
The story is told how when Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse was a young boy he was riding on a train with a well-known Bible teacher, enroute to one of the Bible teacher’s meetings. The older man was reading his Bible. Barnhouse was reading the newspaper. At one point he looked over at his teacher, reading the Bible, and he said, “I wish I knew the Bible like you do.”
 
“You’ll never get to know it by reading the newspaper,” the Bible teacher said kindly. 
 
Barnhouse put away the paper and also began to read his Bible. He grew up to become a well-known pastor and Bible teacher.2  Years later, his radio ministry in New York City led to the salvation of Dr. James Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy had grown up in the church but hadn’t taken the gospel seriously until he heard Dr. Barnhouse pointedly ask, “Suppose that you and I should go out of this building and a swerving automobile should come up on the sidewalk and kill the two of us. You are going to meet God. And if God should say to you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ What would be your answer?”
 
The Holy Spirit used that question to bring Kennedy to repentance and saving faith in Christ. He had an active ministry and formed the outreach program known as Evangelism Explosion. He centered the outreach on a variation of the question that he heard Barnhouse ask on his radio program: “Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and he were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’  What would you say?” 3
    
And in a sense, it all began, when as a young boy Barnhouse heard the kind but pointed admonishment of the teacher he admired saying, “You’ll never learn the Bible by reading the newspaper.”
 
Incidentally, that doesn’t mean that it is wrong to read the paper. Another writer, Dr. John Stott, wrote an excellent book for pastors entitled, Preaching Between Two Worlds. One of the things he pointed out is that pastors should have their Bibles in one hand and the newspaper in the other. As Psalm 36:9 says, “In your light we see light.” We only understand the chaotic events of the world when we see them through the light of Scripture. But unfortunately, too often, we have the newspaper, the Internet, or the TV on way more than we have the open Bible before us. 
 
As we look ahead to (taking the Lord’s Supper) next week, may we know by saving faith that he is indeed our Passover Lamb. May we know by saving faith that just as the angel of destruction passed over the Old Testament homes in Egypt that had the blood of the lamb on the doorpost, so too, by saving faith we have the blood of Christ our Passover Lamb, covering our sins.
 
May each one of us truly know the only answer to that crucial question: “Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and he were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’  What would you say?” The only proper response is true saving faith in Christ alone. He alone is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). In the words of Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
 
With blessed assurance brought by grace through saving faith in Christ, may we (not only in this week of preparation, but) always focus upon the One who was delivered up for our sins and raised up for our justification, by being immersed in his Word, as we pour out our hearts in grateful devotion and love to him. Amen.
 
 
William Hendriksen points out: “There is no conflict between this account and John 12:1… The time indication in Matthew 26:2 “after two days” does not apply to the anointing at Bethany (verses 6-13). In verse 6 Matthew begins to tell a new story. To do so he must go back a few days, to the preceding Saturday evening, when a supper was given in honor of Jesus.” (New Testament Commentary on Matthew, page 898)

2 As quoted by James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, pg. 553

An interesting account of Kennedy’s conversion is recorded at:
   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkfmJLgxy-g

 

bulletin outline:

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.” – Matthew 26:1-2
 
                        “Handed Over to Be Crucified”
                                       Matthew 26:1-13
 
I.  This passage reminds us of:
      1) The significance of the Passover to the crucifixion of Christ,
            our Passover Lamb” (1-2; 1 Corinthians 5:7)
 
 
 
 
 
      2) The willingness of Christ to be our substitute in taking the curse
           of our sin upon Himself (2; Isaiah 53; Galatians 3:13)
 
 
 
 
    
      3) How God’s sovereign plans (1-2) supersedes the plots of men (3-
           5; Acts 2:23) 
 
 
 
 
 
II. The anointing (6-13) by Mary (John 12:3) shows that she understood
     that Jesus would soon be crucified. She understood what others
     seemed to miss because she was often at the feet of Jesus, learning
     from Him (Luke 10:39). We are to do the same by faithfully studying
     His Word (Psalm 19:7-11; 36:9; John 1:14; Colossians 2:3)
 
 
 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Ted Gray

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