READ: Matthew 26-27. Picture the imagery in your mind as you read. Don’t gloss over it. Really take time to envision the story.
BACKGROUND: By verse
26:7 – The perfume was worth about a year’s wages to a working person.
26 – Since he was in the room, bodily, his words show that he intended Communion to be symbolic.
39 – “This cup” means the suffering he had to endure.
63 – Jesus keeping quiet fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7.
27:9 – The prophecy is actually in Zechariah 11:12-13. It’s credited to Jeremiah because Jeremiah was the 1st book of prophecy in the ancient Hebrew Old Testament and all prophecy was generically referred to as the book of Jeremiah since it was first.
24 – Washing his hands was a symbolic ritual that absolved an innocent man from implication in a wrongful death.
26 – “Scourged” means whipped with a leather whip that had scraps of metal and glass in it. It would literally tear a man’s back to shreds.
46 – Jesus is quoting Psalm 22:1.
51 – This was no small task. It wasn’t just some thin curtain, and it wasn’t made of paper. Only God could have torn the veil from top to bottom. This is highly symbolic. The curtain separated the place of God’s most powerful presence – the Holy of Holies – from the rest of the temple and from people. Through the cross, that separation is removed! The tearing of the veil is confirmed in other ancient literature. And check out Acts 6:7b to see the effect that this had on the priests of the Temple.
THINK: This passage is the central event of the entire Bible. What’s more, it is the central event in all of human history! Everything led to the cross – God’s plan to redeem and restore humanity to right relationship with him – and everything changes because of it! But it isn’t a pleasant passage. The imagery that Matthew describes evokes powerful emotion. And it should – God was beaten and bled and died a gruesome death for us.
When I think about the incredible events surrounding the arrest and the death of Jesus I feel almost overwhelmed – like there is nothing I could write that could begin to do it justice. But one of my favorite quotes about the cross comes from the great Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nazianzus: “Many indeed are the wondrous happenings of that time: God hanging from a Cross, the sun made dark, and again flaming out; for it was fitting that creation should mourn with its Creator. The Temple veil ripped, blood and water flowing from His side: the one as from a man, the other as from What was above man; the earth was shaken, the rocks shattered because of the Rock; the dead risen to bear witness of the final and universal resurrection of the dead. The happenings at the Tomb, and after the Tomb, who can fittingly recount them? Yet not one of them can be compared to the miracle of my salvation. A few drops of Blood renew the whole world, and do for all men what the rennet* does for milk: joining us and binding us together.”
What a miracle that God loved us enough to save us – that Jesus bled for you and me!
PRAY: Set aside at least the next 5 minutes (more if you can) and spend some serious time thinking about the Cross and all that it means to you. Thank God for what he did and for his amazing love. Thank God for the miracle of your salvation. Think about all that it means for you – now and in your future!
*Rennet is an enzyme found in the stomach of a cow that causes milk to curdle; it’s used for making cheese. This enzyme takes the liquid molecules – loosely bound together and likely to spread apart and spill all over – and binds them into a single, solid unit of cheese.