Matthew Chapter 26 “From Threads to Tapestry” April 2, 2017
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Intro: There are times in our lives when everything falls apart, when the threads of our life unravel. We wonder if God cares for us, and perhaps we start giving up our faith- in our hearts- because it is not working, it is not making a difference; God seems not to be helping us.
In Matthew chapters 26-28 there are 161 verses, and for the first 142 or so it appears that the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is very quickly unraveling and falling apart. People are plotting his death; his friend betrays him, while other close friends fall asleep on Him when he most needs them; and they deny him and disown him; He is given a sham trial; he is cruelly mocked and ridiculed by Jews and Gentiles alike; He is sentenced to death by the most horrible form of capital punishment; and the disciples that he invested three years of his life go into in hiding.
It would appear that Jesus’ ministry had come to a screeching halt as a failure, right? In a similar way, we often experience such failures and betrayals and disasters in our lives, don’t we? We see our dreams, our health, our lives, our marriages, our families, our devotion to the lord, and our ministries sometimes fall apart and appear as failures.
But getting back to Jesus, if we look closely, even before we get to Matthew 28 and the glorious resurrection, we can see – with the eye of faith – that the real reason the threads of Jesus’ life and ministry and apostolic band are unraveling… is so that God can weave a greater, more wondrous tapestry with the same threads. Let’s see how that happens…
Jesus drops three “Time Bombs” into the laps of his disciples in 26:1-35:
First Time Bomb- (26:2) “the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Second Time Bomb- (26:21) “He said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
Third Time Bomb – (26:31) “Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me,” and then there’s the more specific charge in 26:34 “I tell you the truth…this very night, before the rooster crows, you (Peter) will disown me three times.”
Within a matter of a few hours, all three time bombs explode, just as Jesus said would happen:
Jesus is handed over to the authorities to be crucified; Judas, one of the 12, betrays Jesus, for 30 pieces of silver; and the other apostles all desert Jesus and flee when he is arrested, and before long, Peter denies knowing Jesus, swearing that he never knew him, and disowning him totally.
Or let’s look at these 24 hours in the life of Jesus from the viewpoint of Jesus himself, shall we?
A woman honors Him by pouring some very expensive perfume on His head, thus preparing Him for His burial, but His friends are “indignant,” they are upset that this valuable fragrance has been “Wasted” on Jesus, when the money could have been used for the poor. [26:6-13] (Imagine you know you are dying, and at your last birthday, everyone objects when someone gives you a very expensive gift, such as painted portrait of yourself or a hand make quilt.
He tells his close followers and friends exactly what will happen next, and they either fail to believe him and/or they tell him he is wrong. [26:31-35]
Jesus asks his three closest friends to come with him and pray with him while he prays about the most terrible ordeal a person can undergo- to drink the cup of God’s wrath, and his friends can’t even stay awake to give him moral support [26:36-46] It’s like if your support group failed to show up in your time of need.
And then Jesus willingly allows both Jews and Gentiles to hit him, mock him, ridicule him, put up false witnesses against him, jeer him, flog him, parade him around in scorn and hatred, and finally to be cruelly crucified as a despised criminal…. though he had never done or said one thing wrong.
Looking at Jesus in these 24 hours, it would be safe to conclude that his life and ministry had ended very tragically, very cruelly, very much alone, rejected, mocked and despised.
But while all those threads were unraveling, God the Father was weaving a glorious and awesome tapestry. What was God weaving with these threads?
Look at 26:1-5: While the Jewish leaders are secretly plotting to arrest and kill Jesus, Jesus is telling his disciples that this is all part of God’s plan.
Look at 26:6-13: while the disciples are complaining about this woman’s extravagant outpouring upon Jesus, and Judas, the treasurer of the group, is agreeing to betray Jesus to his enemies for 30 pieces of silver, Jesus proclaims that “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (26:10), as she is preparing his body for burial.
This reminds us that the same event can be seen in two very different perspectives, one seeing it as a “waste”, and the other seeing it as a “beautiful thing”. So…how do you see the events of life? How do you view things that are “done to you.”? Perhaps the very things that we classify as a colossal waste of time and energy are the very things that are beautiful to Jesus, and will have lasting significance!
What about Judas and his back-stabbing betrayal? We see in his actions the stunning truth that God sovereignly accomplishes His purposes even through the plans that are opposed to Him! See Proverbs 16:4 and 9, 4 “The LORD works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster.” 9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”
Now, what could be more damaging than to have a close friend betray your trust? Imagine having a best friend betray you for a few bucks! Wouldn’t you be devastated?
But how does Jesus see this terrible betrayal? Look at 26:24 “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” In other words, The Lord will sovereignly work out His unthwartable purposes even through the evil, dastardly acts of people.
Think about it: when you have a plan, you try to have everything go according to that plan. If one of your teammates was betraying you, that plan would collapse. But with the Lord, He uses people’s sins and betrayals to accomplish His divine purposes.
What about His friends falling asleep on him and then deserting Him and then Peter disowning him? How could that be good? How could such failures and denials be part of God’s plan?
Well, all those disappointments and sins were used by God. The unraveling of the disciples was used by the Lord in this way, namely, that it had to be Jesus, and Jesus alone, who carried out the Father’s plan of salvation, without any help from his disciples. For if Jesus had successfully accomplished our salvation, in part, because of how Peter had defended him or stood up to the high priest, or because Jesus had such a great prayer support group in the garden, or because John had been crucified alongside of Jesus, well then you could imagine how Christians today might have a leg to stand on in appealing to the saints to help them today (even as some branches of Christianity pray to the saints, etc.).
But the truth of the matter is that all these men failed Jesus. He was left alone. He went to the cross and accomplished our salvation without one ounce of help from his friends; in fact, he accomplished it in spite of their failures and sins!
Do you see how it is through Christ, and Christ alone, that we have our salvation? Peter and John and the others couldn’t add an ounce of help to secure our salvation… and neither can you. This is what we are reminded of as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper
Let me show you one more stunning reversal of what was really happening those seeming tragic 24 hours, as Jesus suffered and died. We read in Matthew 27:54 “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
You see, even those who were humanly responsible for putting Jesus to death began to see that this man was indeed the incarnate Son of God!
My friends, here is one more piece of evidence that all the threads which had unraveled that day were now being woven into the greatest tapestry on earth! And in three days, when Jesus was raised from the dead in power and in glory, that tapestry of victory and deliverance would astound Jesus’ enemies, would revive Jesus’ disciples, and would bring the greatest glory to God. What a salvation, woven from all these unraveled threads, which God weaves into a beautiful tapestry of redemption and love for us, and for His own glory and honor!
So, what about your life, and how it seems to be unraveling? Look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:1-2)