A Current Bible Study
Matthew Chapter 26
with a Christmas Season Theme
"GIFTS - Givers, Receivers,
A gift is a fragile thing. Sometimes it's chosen on a whim, sometimes carefully
planned and considered. It's a very personal decision to give or withhold
In this limited study we will consider some examples of gifts and givers
presented in this Gospel chapter. These people and events are not placed
in the Scriptures by accident. They are all presented by God as examples,
both positive and negative, for our examination to lead us to self-examination.
Yes, gifts are a very personal matter.
Verse 2-"Ye know that
after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed
to be crucified."
Christ's life on earth is coming
to a close. He is very aware that He will not die a natural death.
Verse 3-4- "Then assembled
together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people...and
consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him."
These religious leaders would not
even give Christ the right to live. They did not know that their dreadful
and cowardly schemes would be transformed into God's greatest gift: eternal
salvation for mankind.
Verses 6-7- "Now when Jesus
was in Bethany...there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of
very precious ointment, and poured it on his head."
Well, this part of the chapter is very clear. Mary Magdalene brings a very
precious gift to the Lord. Man, she is giving her absolute best to God.
There's real love here. God knows how dumb I can be, so He just says in
verse 13 "Don't miss this, John. Don't anyone forget this kind of giving."
But the disciples did miss it at the time. They cry for religion and legalism.
It sounds so good. But they are very wrong. You can't really help the poor
unless you love God with ALL your heart. They had forgotten that Christ
had given them TWO great commandments: Love God, and love your neighbor.
Mary's got it right. You can't follow either one of these commandments
alone. Love God, in spirit and truth, as Mary did, and He'll use you to
take care of the poor.
Verse 15- "What will you
give me, and I will deliver him unto you?"
Remember, these folks are all examples for our benefit. Now here comes
Judas. He is in the receiving mood. For a gift of thirty pieces of silver,
he trades in His Lord. I really don't think that this is here so that you
and I can meditate on what a selfish rat Judas is. For me the lesson is
clear: What would I trade Jesus in for? If you're going to answer this
for yourself, be careful. Remember God can see your heart and all your
thoughts. Just be honest, friend.
Verse 26- "Take, eat; this
is my body."
What would you do if you knew you were going to die? Our Lord chose to
host a wonderful Passover celebration for the disciples. This is giving.
I don't pretend to understand what He was going through, and I do not want
to appear irreverent, but it says so much about Christ that He chose to
spend His last hours of earthly freedom leading this worship service for
And so, He gives. He gives them the last supper. He gives us all the first
communion. As a musician, I weep when I think of them ending this precious
time together with a hymn. They sing, and then He heads out for the Mount
of Olives. (Many hours later one of the hardened Roman soldiers on duty
at the foot of His cross will spontaneously testify- "No man ever died
like this man!" - Amen, and His strength and holiness and courage were
in strong evidence at this supper and in this singing. If you need an example
to follow today, look at Jesus.)
Frankly, I'm in over my head in this chapter. Please study the entire chapter
and re-read it. This study is limited. In closing I want to draw your attention
to two final gifts. The first is actually more wonderful than I could ever
describe. The second is, I believe, even uglier than the business with
Judas mentioned earlier. The one is given by the only person in this or
any world who could ever give it. The other is withheld because the person
trying to give it is found to be incapable of actually delivering it.
Verse 38- "My soul is exceeding
sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me."
Now we're in the garden of Gethsemane. The celebrating is over. Our Lord
is a person in trouble. If you're in trouble today, I'm sorry, I care,
but I may not be able to really understand your trouble. But our Lord understands.
You see, He's been through it all. He didn't observe it from a heavenly
throne. He experienced it as a person, just like you.
He asked only that the disciples stay alert and pray, but they all fell
asleep. Not giving your attention to a person in need is in some ways the
worst of all. Yet, this is what Jesus is going through. I wonder if this
humble website and all the other Christian sites and church services of
worship and praise help to compensate Our Lord for the abandonment He experienced
here in His last hours in the garden?
Now we come to the gift.
Verse 42- "My Father, if
this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."
That's it. Who received this gift? Why, me, I did. The only reason I'm
not out right now wasting my life away in some bar is because right here
in the garden He chose to GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR YOURS AND MINE!
This garden is holy ground. It's because of my sin that He's in this situation.
I believe He could have easily refused to die for me and been blameless.
Isn't it my fault that I willfully sinned (and mistakenly sin yet)? He
had no sin or fault or blame of His own. He was the last person who should
be punished. This is the gift of gifts that only He can give. The gift
of eternal life means everything to the sinner. Can you see why Christians
can sing Hallelujah? You can't pay for your own sins. You have to receive
the gift of His suffering and death on your behalf if you ever want to
Now the final gift of this chapter. Peter.
What a contrast to Jesus. What a let down.
Like Mary Magdalene, Peter also wanted to give his best to God. But He
doesn't make it. Back in verses 31 to 35 Peter had promised a gift to Christ.
He said that no matter what happened, no matter what anyone else did, he
would fully support his Lord even to the point of giving his own life.
In the end this gift was withheld by Peter. As Christ had predicted it
was actually withheld three times.
Verses 74-75- "...he began
to swear, saying, I know not the man...And Peter remembered the word of
Jesus...And he went out and wept bitterly."
Peter knew Jesus. He knew all about Jesus. But now Peter was learning about
Peter. The truth is we are all too weak to give anything to God unless
God is living within us. How about you? Are you bored with all this? Did
you already know about Jesus in the garden? Did you already know He was
delivered into the very hands of His enemies to suffer and die? I lived
on this planet for 24 years knowing all these things, but I didn't come
to Christ until I learned about myself and my own need for a Savior. Unless
you see that need within, no amount of religion or study can save you.
Well, Peter lived. He lived to see Jesus tortured and crucified. He lived
to see Him rise from the dead. He saw Jesus ascend into Heaven from that
same Mount of Olives they were standing on in the garden. Peter continued
to try and love God. But he was now ever mindful of his weakness.
believe the Lord was describing Peter's problem, and yours and mine, beloved,
back in verse 41- "...the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is
Part of God's wonderful gift
of salvation is power. After the resurrection Christ told the disciples
to wait for power from on high. This was the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent
under the new covenant not just to influence men as in the past, but to
actually dwell within believers, giving them full access to God.
Was Peter ready for new covenant salvation? Yes. Was He changed by the
gift of God's Spirit? Well, sometime check out the opening chapters of
the Book of Acts. Is that Peter the coward in Acts, Chapter 5? The same
religious leaders who had made his knees knock together are now threatening
him personally because his powerful preaching is about to turn their world
upside down. They're quite ready to kill him. Look at what he does. This
power and love are God's gift to all who are ready to believe. Merry Christmas.
Acts, Chapter 5, verse 29-
"Then Peter and the other disciples answered and said, We ought to obey
God rather than men."
May Jesus Christ richly bless
you - JKD 12/25/99