"When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away--and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified." Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. "But not during the Feast," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people." While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." Then one of the Twelve--the one called Judas Iscariot--went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?" He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house." So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me." They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?" Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 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." Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Fathers kingdom." When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." Matthew 26:1-30, NIV.
People might be excited about todays title, Beauty and the Beast, hoping that I will talk about a love story. I like the movie because of a couple of reasons: first, I can watch it with my children and enjoy our time together, but also because it has some truth in it that correlates to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If youve never seen the movie, its about a prince who gets a spell cast upon him to have the appearance of a beast. The only way to break the spell is when he receives the kiss of true love. I think the movie is good because it emphasizes the inner beauty of a person, rather than the outward appearance. Belle, the lady who falls in love with the beast, (who in actuality is the prince, even though he has a beastly appearance.) does so because of his inner beauty. At the end of the movie, the spell is broken and he becomes good-looking again. (But I thought the beast looked better than the prince, because he looked so kindly and nice.) In the same way, inner beauty is definitely emphasized in Scripture. And I see Beauty and the Beast in this text.
vv. 1-5 describes the plot. Then Jesus comments on this woman who anoints Him with oil and says, "She has done a beautiful thing!" Thats Beauty. And then we see Judas who sells Jesus for money. Thats the Beast. And finally we see the Lords supper when theres a Banquet. Well talk about these three things, Beauty, Beast, and Banquet, as we talk about communion.
If you continuously participate with us in Passion Week, youll participate in communion three times with us: Maundy Thursday Service, Good Friday Service, and Easter Sunrise Service. Then well have Baptism Service, the best service of the year.
The chief priests and teachers of the law were political leaders who had assembled to kill Jesus. The Passover, according to the text was two days away. Passover is a celebration of Gods deliverance of the Israelites when they were captives in Egypt. God delivered them and enabled them to come out of Egypt, when Pharaoh would not let them go. God killed all the firstborns present in Egypt: both Israelites and Egyptians. But if lambs blood was smeared on the doorpost of the house, the angel of death "passed over" those doors and did not enter the house to kill the firstborn. The blood of the lamb of course represented the blood of our lord Jesus Christ. Jesus would be killed on the day of Passover. In place of the Passover lambs blood, Christs blood is applied to the doorposts of our hearts, and the wrath of God does not come to us.
According to Josephus the historian, the day of Passover brought in 2.7 million Jews to Jerusalem, which did not include foreigners. That explains why in v. 5 they did not want to kill Jesus during this feast. There may have been a riot among the people since people liked Jesus at this time. This is indicative on Palm Sunday, his popularity being evident by the way they cheered His entrance into Jerusalem. However, their understanding of his mission was incorrect, since they thought He was a militant Messiah who would free them politically from the Roman government..
This passage comes right after He preaches His Olivet Discourse (where He teaches about the future, how Jesus would come back, the end times, etc. in chapters 24-25). In order for history to continue on to the last days, Jesus has to die. Jesus had to die and become the Lamb of God. It reminds me of a passage in Revelations 5, where John is seeing a vision of the future, and he sees a scroll with seven seals on it. John cries because theres no one worthy to open the seal. In order for history to continue on, there has to be someone worthy to open the seal. Otherwise, redemptive history cannot continue. So what happens? The Lamb from the Lion of Judah (Lamb like a Lion, and a Lion like a Lamb), approaches and opens the seal. Hes the only One worthy to open the seal, so that redemptive history can go on. Whats the point? Jesus is the only One who can replace all the lambs and animals killed on behalf of the people. Hes the only One who can die and replace us on the cross, the only one who can fulfill history so redemptive history can continue. This is the setting for this week that is coming.
Lets now move on to talk about how Beauty worships this Lamb of God, who is the only One worthy to be praised.
vv. 6-13 talks about this. All four gospels talk about a woman anointing Jesus with oil. The Luke 7 account is different than this woman in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 11, whos mentioned as Mary. This account is the same as John 12 where it talks about how Mary anoints Jesus with oil, because Jesus just raised Lazarus from the dead. Sometimes when we see different accounts in the gospels, we think the Bible is contradicting itself with different facts. We should not see Scriptures as contradictory but see it as complementary. The more we know the background, customs, and times, a lot of things will make more sense. The place was probably Bethany; the location was Simon the lepers house; it was a family-like atmosphere, where everyone knew each other; Martha was probably at Simon the lepers house serving and helping. And suddenly here comes Mary who comes and anoints Jesus. John says she anoints his feet. Mathew here says it was on his head. But Jesus says in v. 12, she anointed him in his body. Why so many differences? There was a whole pint of oil, so she probably got him all over his body. But why does John emphasize the feet? Because in the following chapter (13), Jesus will act as the servant-King and wash feet, so he emphasizes her anointing the feet. In the Matthew text, she is seen anointing his head. Who is usually anointed in the head? Prophets. priests, and kings! This is fitting since one of Matthews themes is that Jesus is the King. So Matthew is emphasizing him as king.
Mary breaks the jar and pours expensive perfume worth 300 denari, which is a whole years wages. A whole years wages poured out in just a few seconds! It seems logical for the disciples to say, "What a waste! We could have sold it to the poor." John says it was Judas Iscariot who says this, but in this text all the disciples were frowning together and saying, "Yeah, we could have sold it and gave it to the poor." Its kind of logical to think like that.
What the disciples were seeing, and what Jesus was seeing must have been quite different. The disciples rebuked the woman; Jesus praised the woman. The disciples said, "What are you doing" Jesus said, "She will be remembered. She has done a beautiful thing." Why did the disciples rebuke her? Because they saw differently than Jesus. The disciples saw the action; Jesus saw the heart. The disciples were seeing the perfume; Jesus was seeing the person. He was seeing her, and how she was worshiping while disciples were thinking about the practicality. Perhaps the disciples would say, "Why is this service so long?" Jesus would say, "People are worshiping me longer." The disciples might say, "Why is the communion line so long?" Jesus would say, "There are so many people who need to drink andeat." The disciples were saying, "Lets work on the 2nd greatest commandment € help the poor people!" Jesus is saying, "Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Poor you will always have with you. Loving God is more important than other people." If youre not loving people as an expression of loving God, it is not really loving people. The disciples were not thinking about the worth of Jesus, but Mary was. She was saying, "I want to give all I can give to the Lord, though it is not much."
Sometimes we are like the disciples; sometimes we are like Mary. V. 12 says, "When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial." She was preparing the burial for Jesus, because she was one of the few who really heard, really listened to Jesus when he said He will die. The disciples were not acting like they really believed what He was saying, but Mary was really listening to Jesus. Many people heard Jesus, but few really listened to Jesus. Many times we hear Jesus, but rarelylisten to what Him. So many people say, "I was so blessed at CFC." When I see the alumni, some are doing well, but some are not, because everyone hears, but few really listen. Few take it to heart and worship the Lord and have a personal relationship with Christ. Mary was at the feet of Jesus listening to Jesus. That was her habit. She wasalways listening to Jesus. Out of gratitude, her tears flowed, and her hands gave. If you sit at the feet of Jesus, and listen with your ears, and take those words with yourheart, youll have tears that come from your heart, and in your hands youll have treasure you offer up to the Lord; then you will pour the oil on his head and worship him as King.When you have the word of Christ, you will worship Christ.
Jesus says, "What she did was beautiful and will be remembered." Why was this beautiful? Why was her activity to be remembered? Why was it so valuable? Its all connected. What is beautiful is remembered and is valuable, probably because of the sacrifice that came out of loving Christ. Christs alabaster body was broken to give blood perfume and the aroma of the gospel was spread all over. What she did pictured what Christ did. Why would we give to the poor? Because as we love God by loving others, its a picture of sacrifice. This is exactly what she pictured. Christ-likeness and cross-likeness is beautiful, valuable, and will be remembered. What is beautiful is not Miss America, according to the Bible, but Mrs. Jones who sacrifices her heart and life to raise her children. Its not Princess Diana, but Mother Theresa who sacrificed herself to others. Its not Herod of palace, but Christ of the cross. Esther was not beautiful because she was a beauty queen, but because she was willing to give her life for the people. Inner beauty, cross-likeness, Christ-likeness is beautiful, valuable, and will be remembered forever.
We see the Beast in Judas Iscariot. He says to the chief priests, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" It shows selfishness in a conceited person. ABeast is an animal. According to the Bible, we are all like animals without Christ, because we are driven by our fleshly desires. Animals are exactly like that - driven by their instinct. We are just like that without Christ. We are driven by our sinful nature and cannot deny our desires, unless Christ intervenes in our lives and helps us to deny ourselves.
What was driving Judas? What drives you is what is valuable to you! According to John 12:6, John describes him as a thief. Being a keeper of the money bag, he used the moneybag for himself. He was among the Twelve, who checked in their coins with him. He would keep the moneybag, and I guess he was trustworthy enough to the other disciples. Even though there were tax collectors, he was the one counting the money and handling it. However, John, during his 3 1/2 years together with him, saw him taking money for himself. He loved money. Thats why in Judas says here, "If you had given it to us, we could have saved it and given to the poor." He was probably thinking, "Well give some to the poor, and some to my pocket. Why waste it, because you could have given it to me?" He saw green wherever he went.
In fact, thats what happens in v. 15. He did not want to keep the most precious person in the cosmos, Jesus Christ, but was willing to sell for 30 pieces of silver. "What would you give me if I handed him over to you." So they counted out for him 30 pieces of silver."" Let me ask you: What would you exchange Jesus for? For Judas it was money. Maybe for you, its your reputation, your family, your name, money, sex, drugs. Drug addicts would not exchange anything for that one shot at that moment. I remember talking to a girl who left our church, and one of our church members went to her and pleaded not to forsake Christ. One sentence she said that Ill never forget is "I cant give up my boyfriend." What would you exchange Jesus for? Jesus amply warns Judas in this text. Everybody said, "Lord, not I, Lord. Me?" Judas said the same thing. Jesus clearly says in v. 25, "Yes, its you." We can interpret this in many ways. What was the tone of Jesus? Positive or negative? I thought of it like this. When I play chess with my kids, I know what theyre doing as they make their moves. So I say, "You sure you want to do that? Im gonna destroy you if you make that move." I think thats what Jesus is saying to Judas. Its a loving warning. But Judas consciously makes the choice to sell Jesus, for 30 pieces of silver, because he just cant give up the money, or whatever his idol was in his heart.
Theologically speaking, we have natural freedom. Jonathan Edwards says that we have natural freedom, the freedom to lift our hands and put it down, but we do not havemoral freedom, the freedom to resist sin. We have a sinful nature that we cannot deny, unless God comes and helps us by His grace. We cannot choose Christ, but willingly choose sin or whatever for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus was continually giving him love.
We have both natures: the nature of Mary, and the nature of Judas. We too have killer instincts in our hearts, since were born with that and cannot help but sin, because whatever we do is out of selfish motive of our hearts. What would you give me if Im nice to you, loyal to you, if I die for you, love you? 1 Corinthians 13 states that even if you give your life, its nothing unless its done out of a true motive of love € with genuine love, unselfishness, and no idolatry in our hearts. We have Judas killer instinct in us, but when Jesus Christ comes, we also have Marys worship instinct in us. Both killer instinct and worship instinct are in our hearts. We must continuously change. In our hearts, we have both the Beauty and the Beast, both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We are continually changing to be more and more like Christ. We are becoming like Mary. Its what we call sanctification. God is changing us and we are growing in Christ as the branch is attached to the vine. How? When we sit at the feet of Jesus - when the vine and branches are attached. When we are fed with his word, a true kiss from a true love. You see, when Judas kisses Jesus, that was the sign of betrayal to point him out for 30 pieces of silver. But notice, Jesus kisses Judas also in return. Look at the love. Judas kisses with him betrayal, but Jesus kisses him with love and warning. When we receive His true love kiss, we grow, and are sitting at the feet of Jesus. Do not reject his love and His power. Do not reject His word. The Beast in us will become the Beauty, more like Christ.
This is the Banquet Of The Body And The Blood, the Banquet Of The Bread And The Wine. V. 17, "On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"" This refers to the Passover. During the Exodus, the Israelites madeunleavenedbread, because leavened bread would take too much time to rise because of the yeast. The Israelites had no time on their way out of Egypt, so they had to run. Thats why they call the Passover also the Feast Of Unleavened Bread. If the Angel of Death saw the blood, he passed over. Jesus says to celebrate the Passover on the day He will die. Its an oxymoron. A Bloody Passover. But thats what Hell do in our behalf. His suffering is our gain. He paid for us with His own blood. God killed His son, instead of the Lamb, so you and your sons will not die.
The blood on the doorpost is like this. When you go to Menards and purchase a big piece of merchandise, you receive a receipt, so you can walk around with the merchandise. Sometimes, employees in the store will check to see if youve paid for it. All you have to do then is show them the receipt. You can walk in or out, just smile and show the receipt - to show that I paid for it. As imperfect as that illustration is, the blood of Christ is like that receipt. When the angel of death comes, we are saved, he will pass over us, he cannot demand anything from us. The blood of our doorpost is like our receipt. Thats whats happening. Hes giving His blood.
Many people misunderstand this when they participate in communion. When you eat the bread and drink, you may think, "Oh no, I spilled the blood of Christ. I dropped the crumb on the floor." Is it really the body of Christ or the blood of Christ? Ill describe this controversy in the history of Christianity. Four views very simply told. When he says: "This is my body", is it to be taken literally or figuratively?
Transubstantiation: "The substance is transferred." Roman Catholics hold this view. When the priests are handling the bread and wine, and giving it to your lips, it becomes the real body and blood of Christ.
Consubstantiation: Martin Luther held this view. Luther wanted to keep Christs words, "This is my body" literal. The substance was not changed. The unchanged substance of the bread is united with the substance of the body. So "con" - somewhere "in" there is the actual substance of Christs body.
Zwinglian or Memorial View: This is the mere remembrance view. Many Baptists hold this. "Do this in remembrance of me" is emphasized. So they see it as just a memorial thing.
Spiritual Presence View: I personally hold to this view. John Calvin also held this view, as do many Presbyterians, Methodists, and Episcopalians. This view holds that Christ is truly present but not physically in the substance. He is spiritually present. There is an actual, true, special blessing linked with the observance of the communion. So when we observe communion, the substance is indeed bread and drink, so dont worry about spilling the blood of Christ, but dont try to spill it intentionally, of course. When we participate in faith, in that very special observance, because we are obeying Christ, a special blessing of Christ is there. Just like when you read the Bible, the spiritual presence of Christ is there as you read the word. It sometimes feels just like the words He spoke to the disciples because the spiritual presence of Christ is there when you read the word. Have you ever experienced that? When you pray at lock-ins or something, isnt sometimes the special presence of Christ there, and you are so enriched? So during that time of communion, Jesus says "When you remember me and do this out of faith, my special presence will be there." In that very moment, He will be there. How many times have I heard that people have come to our church, and participated in communion, and said, "Oh I experienced the presence of Christ." So many people cry during that time. Many times I am in tears, because I also experience the special presence of Christ. Its just like when he was giving the bread and wine to his disciples. Jesus said, "When two or three gather in my name, I will be in your midst." Does that mean that when we pray alone Hes not present? Sure He is. But when two or three gather together, He is present in a special way. When believers gather together, there is a special presence with us. So prepare your heart to have faith. Have faith as you remember Christ. Then you might have a stronger, a special presence of Christ than when youre alone. Thats why even a day before you participate in communion, prepare your hearts. Youre not preparing your hearts to avoid dropping the substance, but for your heart to have hunger, asking for His presence, more of His grace, to be stronger in faith. The objective worth of His person is subjectively appropriated in our heart through faith. His grace comes and rushes forth to give us strength to love Christ. There, the Beast is becoming the Beauty; the selfish heart is becoming the selfless heart. Judas heart is becoming Marys heart. How much is Christ worth to you? For Judas, it was 30 pieces of silver. We can ask the same to Christ. Lord, how much am I worth to you? Im just a handful of dirt. I die, go to the ground and decay. But Christ would die for me. What am I worth now? What was the price paid for me? The life of Christ. Each and everyone of you, if youre in Christ, are worth the life of Christ. But we don't say Im worth this much. Rather, we say, "Glory, honor, and praise to You alone, oh Lord." Because any worth we have is Christ. Lord, be honored and glorified.
Simple application for this week: Just like Mary, listen and be attentive to Christ. Sit at his feet. Meditate on Christ. Really listen, so youll have love and worship in your heart, and give your all like Mary did to the One whos worthy.
Many churches all over the world this week will abstain from a lot of different things. Remember just two principles: fasting and feasting. By fasting from what distracts you from thinking about Christ (entertainment, etc.), then youll be feasting on more of Christ (replace those activities and times with the word, reading of Scripture and praying). We fast from the cheap substitutes of this world to feast on Christ. Prepare your heart this week, so you can actually go through what Christ went through - Passion week. Passion in Greek means "suffering." This is Suffering Week. Lets walk with Christ. Each day, you can follow the Lord each day in the Word and think about what Christ went through. Pray and mediate on it. May you receive the incredible and special presence of Christ. Then we can be like Mary, worshiping and honoring Him and giving all that we are and all that we have. Thank Him, love Him, worship Him, sit at His feet, and receive His kiss. So the Beast will become Beauty.