As Christians, Easter is the most important date on our calendar. When we measure the effect of Easter on life, we are lost without it.
Without Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are without hope. Easter gives us victory over our destructive sinful nature, death, and the grave.
You may not be who you want to be, but you are no longer who you used to be because of Jesus’ resurrection. If you have air in your lungs, there is hope!
God’s grace is big enough to cover all your mistakes.
Matthew 26 marks the end of Jesus’ public teaching ministry. Although this was a big part of His ministry time, the focus of Jesus coming to earth was not the teachings or the miracles.
The focus of Jesus’ ministry is and was the cross.
Jesus lived with His end in mind so that you could have a new beginning. He was born to die so that we could be born-again and live.
Jesus remained unwavering in His mission even though He knew the details of it all! Have you experienced how God often gives direction (go) but not the detail behind His plans for you in life?
- Go serve in this area, even though it’s outside your comfort zone.
- Give to this need, although your car is going to break down next week.
- Take this job, even though you will be underpaid and underappreciated.
- Go to that church even though it’s too small or too big.
We would likely run from the path God calls us to walk if we knew what it would go through to arrive at where He is leading. That’s because we are often too focused on the destination, but it is the journey that God uses to transform us.
Yet, no matter how hard following God is, living outside His will is so much harder!
The pain and struggle experienced:
- In His will perfects us and transforms us.
- Outside His will can destroy us.
When you say “yes” to Jesus, you don’t get to choose the path, but you do get to hold onto the promise that He will never leave you or forsake you and works out all things for your good!
In Matthew 26:4, the High Priests plot together how to arrest Jesus by stealth. The word stealth comes from the Greek word dolos and means guile, deceit, trickery, and fraud.
Anything you have to do using fraud or manipulating circumstances to accomplish your purpose is usually a bad idea. If you have to deceive, lie, and withhold information to have your way, it’s safe to say you’re out of God’s will.
Since Jesus’ first miracle, the High Priests and Sadducees have taken a hostile position against Him. They have not hidden their desire to see Jesus removed, and He was aware of this. But what is unfathomable is when those closest to you act more like your enemy than a friend.
Matthew 26:14-17 uncovers how one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, one of the boys, sought out the High Priest to make a deal to betray Jesus.
Completely aware of this, Jesus never treated Judas any different from the rest of the disciples. I’ll be honest if I had discernment that someone close to me would betray me, I would remove them before they had the chance to do so. Yet, if we allow it, God will use these moments to build us up.
None of the gospel writers indicate why Judas did what he did. Commentators have speculated on why.
#1 Judas felt Jesus had all the momentum needed with Passover beginning and 300,000 additional people in Jerusalem, initiating Jesus’ arrest might provoke Jesus to action and begin a revolution against Rome.
#2 Judas recognized Jesus was a man of peace, not war, and that He had back the wrong revolutionary and wanted to get rid of Jesus and replace Him with another.
#3 Judas betrayed Jesus to save Himself because he was aware that Jesus had made some powerful enemies, and he didn’t want to go down as an associate of Him.
Judas asks how much would they pay him if he gave Jesus over to them? They respond with 30 pieces of silver, which was a nominal amount of money.
This amount parallels an event in Zechariah 11, where God is furious with the people and the shepherds of Israel. These shepherds are symbolically spiritual leaders.
The people are far from God, and the shepherds have done nothing to lead the people back to Him. So God instructs Zechariah to remove them and to shepherd the people.
But the people detested the leading of Zechariah and refused to turn from their evil ways. Zechariah is then paid 30 pieces of silver, a meager amount, unequal the significance of righteous training.
God instructs the prophet to throw it away. This act uncovered the people’s preference for evil.
Likewise, the 30 silver coins paid for the betrayal of Jesus showed how little they valued Immanuel, God with us, the Word made flesh, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. These two stories mirror the rejection of what is good and righteous.
If you have been on the receiving end of betrayal, know that Jesus understands exactly how you feel. But I need to give you one important piece of advice if you’re going to move on and grow from this hurt.
You need to forgive the person who betrayed you, not because they deserve it or have earned it. You need to forgive them for you.
Not forgiving keeps you in solitary confinement as the pain of the hurt torments you. The only person you are hurting by not forgiving is you.
Without forgiving, that hurt will take over your life, thoughts, and actions, and slowly destroy you. You forgive so you can be free.
If you have been the betrayer, you need to repent because God has plans for you. His plans are for your good; to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future.
His plans are far greater than anything you have to manipulate to achieve on your own.
Today can be the day you forgive and no longer be consumed by the hurt that is turning into anger and hate.
For others, the time of running from God’s plan, and living a life of deceit can end through repentance and walking the path God has set apart for just YOU!