Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 60: Matthew 26:47-75 & Psalm 61 - Why Was Jesus Betrayed, Misunderstood, Falsely Accused and Denied?

Today's Reading: Matthew 26:47-75 & Psalm 61

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Why Was Jesus Betrayed, Misunderstood, Falsely Accused and Denied?

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. - Matthew 26:47-49, ESV

It's vital that we understand how totally Jesus is in control of all of the circumstances leading up to His death, because today's passage is really disturbing. In the space of a few paragraphs here, Jesus is . . .
  • Betrayed by one of His closest followers. To add insult to the betrayal, Judas Iscariot chose a kiss as the sign to identify Jesus to the armed mob who came to arrest Him in the dark.
  • Misunderstood by another of His closest followers, as Peter drew his sword to strike, cutting off the ear of the servant of the High Priest.  
  • Falsely accused by the ruling council of God's people. With the chaos of a hastily assembled bogus trial, false witnesses bring accusations and can't even agree with each other on the made-up "facts."
  • Charged with blasphemy by the ruling council for stating the plain truth of who he really was.
  • Denied three times by the zealous follower who was willing to kill for Him just an hour or so before. 

Why did all of this have to happen to Jesus? Yesterday, we considered why Jesus had to die, but today we need to consider all of these other horrible things that were done to God's only Son leading up to the cross.

Jesus suffered being betrayed, misunderstood, falsely accused, unjustly condemned and repeatedly denied for two main reasons: to fulfill Scripture and to prepare Him to be a sympathetic High Priest. Isaiah had said that the Messiah would be "despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." When the mob came to arrest Him and He had to correct Peter's zealous sword-fighting, Jesus said, "But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." 

Jesus also needed to suffer so that He could be fully qualified to be our sympathetic High Priest. This explains the reason why the Messiah had to be "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." He had to be tested, tempted and made to suffer in all the ways in which His people suffer, so we can come to Him and find sympathy. 

Hebrews 4:15-16 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 2:17 says, "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people."

So, when you read the Gospels and see all of this terrible stuff happening to Jesus, just remember: He did this all for you. Jesus willingly submitted to these trials and suffered in these ways so that you could come to Him with your trials and your suffering and find someone who listens with sympathy. He understands because He has suffered, too!

Prayer Based on Psalm 61:

Hear my cry, O God,
    listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to You
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I, the rock that is Jesus Your Son,
for You have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in Your tent forever!
    Let me take refuge under the shelter of Your wings!
For You, O God, have heard my vows;
    You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.

You have prolonged the life of King Jesus;
    so that His years endure to all generations!
He has been enthroned forever before God;
    and He appoints steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over His people!

So will I ever sing praises to Your name,

    as I perform my vows day after day.

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