Sunday, January 19, 2020

"This Very Night" [Matt's Messages]

“This Very Night”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 19, 2020 :: Matthew 26:31-46

Time has slowed down.

We have reached not just that crucial last week that we often call “Holy Week” or “Passion Week,” but we’ve also reached that last crucial day. That last 24 hours before the crucifixion of our Lord.

Last week, we were up in the upper room with Jesus as He ate the Passover with His disciples.

And we saw that it was a Passover like there had never been a Passover before.

Because Jesus made this Passover all about Himself.

He took bread and broke it and passed it around and said it was His body.

He took the cup and offered it to His disciples and said it was His blood.

And He said that He wouldn’t drink from it again until He drank from it anew with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom.

And before all of that, He shocked them all by saying that one of them, one of the Twelve, was going to betray Him.

And He even knew which one.

Time has slowed down, and so will we.

We are only going to study verses 31 through 46 this morning.

Just the last part that happens before the betrayal and arrest.

Just the last few hours that Jesus is alone with His disciples.

And specifically those last few hours when Jesus prays.

And prays and prays.

Because Jesus knows what’s about to happen.

Jesus knows what’s coming.

We’ve seen that again and again.

Jesus knows what is right around the corner.

So what would you do if you knew that the authorities were coming to arrest you?

Jesus prays.

I’m going to call this message “This Very Night” because Jesus emphasizes the immediacy of these events in verse 31 and verse 34 with those words.

“This Very Night”

It’s right here, right now.

This is what Jesus’ life has been leading up to for all of these years.

From the angelic visits to His parents.
From the angels and the shepherds at Bethlehem.
From the baptism of His cousin John.
From the Sermon on the Mount to the Olivet Discourse.
From everything we’ve read so far in the Gospel of Matthew.

It’s all coming to a head right here, right now.

This very night.

Now, I often have several points of application that I try to dole out to you as a message unfolds.

Today, I have just two points of application, and I’m going to tell you up front what they both are, because they are both woven throughout this short passage.

I want you to see and feel them at every step of this very night.

Number One. We need to:

#1. RECOGNIZE OUR WEAKNESS.

As we see the weakness of the disciples, especially Peter, I am sure that we are supposed to see ourselves in them.

They don’t do so well. In fact, they fail.

And we need to see how they did that and own it as a true picture of ourselves.

And what we need saving from.

And what we need the Lord to work on in us.

But the other thing, and it’s more important really is that we need to:

#2. MARVEL AT JESUS’ STRENGTH.

Both of those things are on display in this passage.

Our weakness and His strength.

It’s amazing what Jesus goes through for us.

And how He does it.

And it should cause us to marvel and worship and give thanks that our Savior did this to save us and to glorify His Father.

This is how I’m hoping we will respond as follow Jesus through the events of this very night.

In verse 30, Matthew tells us that Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn and then left the house where they were eating the Passover and went back over the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, the place where He had been teaching them about His glorious return.

And somewhere along the way, Jesus drops another shocker of a prediction on them.

Not only will one of them betray Him, but all of them will desert Him. Verse 31.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’”

We are used to this story, but it’s really quite striking, isn’t it?

They just had this intimate time together with their heads so close. Eating the Passover meal like a family. Dipping their bread or lamb in the same sauce.

Singing a hymn, wandering together up the valley.

But Jesus says, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me...”

And He says that it’s written in the Bible that this will happen!

That’s quote from Zechariah 13:7.

“I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

God is going to strike the Shepherd. What a scary thought!

And when the shepherd is struck, the sheep will be scattered.

The disciples will fall away.

Again, I wrote in the margin of my copy, “He knows.”

He knows what’s going to happen to Him.

And what He emphasizes is that His followers are going to stop following Him.

They are going to fall way. They are going to leave Him.

By the way, this story just keeps getting worse and worse until chapter 28.

It’s all true. And it’s all good for us.

But it was awful for Jesus.

And we need to feel that.

And marvel and wonder at what He went through for us.

Now in verse 32, there is a note of hope. There is, in fact, a prediction of resurrection!

“But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

He knows that His going to get up again on Sunday morning!

But all of this is going right over all of their heads.

What they have heard is that Jesus thinks they are going to fail Him.

And that is unthinkable for them at this moment. And who do you think is going to vocalize it?

Three guesses and the first two don’t count. It’s Peter, right? V.33

“Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’”

Let me translate that for you, “Jesus, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m much better than that.”

Which is a pretty dangerous thing to say to Jesus.

Peter thinks that he’s better than Jesus does.

He has good intentions!

But we know where that road leads.

And so does Jesus. V.34

“‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.”

I think that’s us, don’t you?

I think we’re supposed to see ourselves there in Jesus’ protestations and over-confidence.

He’s not the only one. “All the other disciples said the same.”

And how many times have we?

Promised the Lord something that we weren’t really going to do.

Declared our strength and pledged our undying faithfulness.

Only to disappoint and be disappointing.

I love how the gospel present the disciples as being not very impressive.

I mean, Matthew was one of these disciples. If I were writing the book, I wouldn’t just make Jesus a great compelling character. I’d put in some good things about myself, too!

Or at least I’d be tempted to.

But the gospels show us not just Who Jesus really is, but who we really are, as well.

We need to recognize our weakness.

Which can actually be the start of our strength.

Remember this interaction they had with Jesus. It will become important in the next few weeks. V.36

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’”

The other gospels tell us that this was a place Jesus went to frequently. I think that’s how Judas knew where to find Him.

The word “Gethsemane” basically means “Olive Press,” and there was a garden there, so this was the original Olive Garden.

But there were no addictive breadsticks.

Instead, there was a praying Savior.

And what a prayer time He had! V.37

“He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”

Jesus has invited along His inner circle.

Peter, James, and John. The same three that saw Him on the mount of transfiguration.

Shining like the sun.

But now His face is dark.

He is sorrowful and troubled.

In fact, He is–This is astonishing, friends! He is overwhelmed.

Just think about that.

Just sit with that for a second.

The Lord Jesus Christ Whom we have followed now for 71 Sundays through the Gospel of Matthew.

When have we ever seen Jesus overwhelmed?

We’ve never seen Jesus overwhelmed.

But He is just about losing it this very night.

He doesn’t lose it! He never fails.

But He is in agony.

He is in anguish.

Jesus does not exaggerate about Himself, and He says in verse 38, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”

Jesus is so sad that He might almost die of it.

Why?

Because He knows.

He knows what’s coming.

He knows the horror of what is right around the corner for Him this very night.

And He wants His friends to sit up with Him and pray.

How very human of Him!

We need each other as humans.

If the Son of Man wanted His friends to pray with Him, how much more do we need it?!

Let’s be there for each other.

Let’s pray for each other.

On Sunday mornings, do you gather prayer requests from the people that sit near you?

You should do that.

Everybody here is the prayer team. You should ask the people around you how you can be praying for them. And maybe just do it right there in 10 seconds!

We need each other.

Jesus desired the company of Peter and the sons of Zebedee.

He wanted them to pray with Him.

But they failed miserably.

And He was left to pray alone. V.39

“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’”

And that is one of the most amazing prayers that has ever been offered to God.

First off, look at His posture.

See Him face down on the ground.

That is total submission.

Have you ever prayed like that?

Face down.

But this facedown Savior calls God His Father.

“My Father.” The Gospel of Mark says that He used the Aramaic word, “Abba.”

We might say, “Papa” or “Dad.”

And what does He ask?

“If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”

“If it is possible!” Maybe in His human nature, He wasn’t yet certain.

Just like He didn’t know when the Son of Man would come, maybe He didn’t know if there was possibly another way.

He sure wanted there to be!

He does not want this cup!

What is “this cup?”

A cup is an experience.

If you drink a cup, then you are choosing an experience.

And this cup, it’s not a physical cup, that’s a metaphor.

This cup is everything that’s going to happen to Him this very night and the next day.

This cup is the betrayal.
This cup is the arrest.
This cup is the farce of a trial.
This cup is the scourging.
This cup is the mocking.
This cup is the crucifying.

This cup is the Cross.

This cup is the wrath of God.

This cup was meant for us.

This is our cup.

Psalm 75, verses 7 and 8, “It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.”

But here it is the pure and spotless Savior who drinks the cup reserved for the wicked.

That song we sing, “Jesus, Thank You.”

“You drank the bitter cup reserved for me.”

This is our cup.

And Jesus, looking at it, shudders.

And He asks His Father to take it from Him, “may this cup be taken from me.”

He does not want it.

But He chooses it.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Marvel at Jesus’ strength.

His strength is a strength that starts with submission.

We often think that strength comes from not submitting.

But Jesus’ strength comes at the point of submission.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

And He bends His will to the Father’s.

There is glorious strength in being able to bend your will to the Father’s will!

That’s what Jesus’ does.

He bends His human will to His Father’s divine will.

And chooses the cup of God’s wrath for us.

That’s amazing!

Which only highlights the disciples’ weakness. V.40

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. [Who had just said that he would die with Jesus if necessary. But he can’t pray with Jesus when necessary.] ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’”

That’s us, right?

I know that I’ve fallen asleep during prayer meeting before!

These are just normal guys in a very unusual time and place.

They have good intentions, but their bodies don’t want to comply.

We need to recognize our weakness here and pray for help.

We are finite and limited and weak creatures who need all of the help we can get.

We need to admit that and humble ourselves.

And pray and keep watch so that we don’t fall into temptation.

But you know what?

Jesus was fully human, too. I’m sure that He was tired.

All of this anguish will wear you out. I’m sure that He was exhausted.

And He hasn’t even really started.

But He keeps on. V.42

“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’”

I think He’s getting His answer. He changes from “if it’s possible” to “I understand it may not be possible.”

And either way He’s committed.

“May your will be done.”

Just like He taught us to pray.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We need to learn to pray like that, too.

We bring God our requests, our desires.

It’s okay to bring anything to Him that you want.

Bring it!

Jesus wants this very badly, and it’s no sin to ask for it!

But He always says, “May your will be done.”

“May your will be done.”

And it’s not just words. It needs to be our heart’s pray.

“May your will be done.”
“May your will be done.”
“May your will be done.”

Do you pray like that?

With an open hand?

“May your will be done.”

The point of this passage is not so much that we need to pray like that, but that our Lord prayed like that!

He was so strong!

He didn’t want this at all, but He stayed strong.

The devil threw everything at Him that He could.

I’m sure that He was tempting Jesus right here and right now.

This very night Satan had returned and brought the same temptation to skip the Cross that he had presented to Jesus back in chapter 3.

But Jesus never faltered and never failed.

He said again and again to the Father, “May your will be done.”

And it meant our salvation!

Just imagine what would have happened if He had failed.

That’s unthinkable!

But the disciples failed again and again. They are a picture of us and our need for Savior. And thankfully, we have one. V.43

“When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. [“May your will be done.”] Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? [Nap time is over!] Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’”

And that’s where we’ll leave things this week.

The last moment they had alone together.

They failed.

But Jesus was victorious.

From now on Jesus does not weep.

He is not overwhelmed.

I’m sure that He is sad. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

But He is no longer prostrate on the ground, face down.

Instead, He stands regally and faces all that comes before Him.

As the torch-lit mob climbs up to take Him away, Jesus all prayed-up, breathes out, “May your will be done this very night.”


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"

Sunday, January 12, 2020

“The Passover With My Disciples” [Matt's Messages]

“The Passover With My Disciples”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 12, 2020 :: Matthew 26:17-30

For over two years now, we’ve been following Jesus through the Gospel of Matthew, and we’ve now followed Him right up into that crucial, holy, last week.

Last week, we read about happened on the Wednesday of Passion Week.

Today, we enter into that critical final 24 hours leading up to the crucifixion. Starting sometime on Thursday. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

On the previous day, Wednesday, Judas, one of the Twelve, turned traitor and sold his services and his Master to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver.

Today on Thursday, Jesus and His disciples will prepare for the Passover and keep the Passover feast. They are going to eat the Passover together.

But it will be a Passover such as there has never been before!

I’ve entitled this message from Jesus’ words in verse 18, where He says, “My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples...”

“The Passover With My Disciples”

Jesus leads His disciples into a Passover feast like no previous Passover.

There has never been anything like it.

We are almost contemptuously familiar with it because we’ve read over it and perhaps mindlessly repeated the words so many times, but this was one special Passover.

And the reason was because Jesus made it all about Him.

By now, we should not be surprised.

If we are surprised that Jesus makes something all about Himself, we have not been paying attention as we’ve read the Gospel of Matthew.

The Gospel of Matthew is a theological biography of the Lord Jesus Christ, the most compelling, the most interesting, the most important Person Who has ever lived.

Matthew is showing us and telling us Who Jesus really is.

And as we come to understand Who Jesus really is, He calls us to follow Him.

So, keep your eye on the ball.

“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.” Stop there for a second.

Did you hear the word, “Passover?”

Matthew wants to make sure we don’t miss it.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was about a week-long festival to remind the people of Israel of their rescue from Egypt.

God had dramatically saved His people from slavery. Remember the story from the book of Exodus?

God sent Moses to Pharaoh to say what? “Let my people go!”

And Pharaoh said, “No!”

God, “Oh yes, you will.”

And He hammered Egypt with 10 plagues. Creational warfare.

Water to blood.
Frogs everywhere.
Gnats everywhere.
Flies ruining the land.
Pestilence on the livestock.
Boils on everyone.
Hail bombing that decimated Egypt.
A locust swarm that took everything left.
And darkness that you could feel.

And then the devastating tenth plague: the LORD promised to kill every firstborn son in the land.

And after that, the people of Israel were set free.

They had to take off in a hurry. No time to let the bread rise.

So it was unleavened bread for them.

This day is actually the day of preparation for all of that.

This is the day that they went through the house cleaning out any of the leaven. Cleaning out, sweeping out, all of the yeast in the house.

And preparing the Passover meal.

Including the lamb.

The blameless pascal lambs were bought and then taken to the temple to be sacrificed.

And they poured the blood of the lambs into basins that the priests passed hand to hand to then pour out on the altar.

And they burned the fat. And then they took the lamb home and roasted it over a fire to eat as a family with some unleavened bread, some bitter herbs, a fruit sauce puree, and 4 cups of wine.

That dinner happened after sundown which in the Jewish reckoning begins a new day.

It would still be Thursday to us, but it was the beginning of their Friday when they would eat that evening.

The Jews had been doing this feast for almost 1500 years. The Exodus was about 1445BC, and this is probably 33AD? That’s 6 times longer than our nation has existed!

So the Passover is an ancient custom to them.

And do you remember why it’s called the “Passover?”

Because on the first Passover back in Exodus 12, the Jews were to paint their doorframes with the blood of these lambs. And if they did that, painted their doorframes with lamb blood, then the LORD would pass over their homes and not take the lives of their firstborn sons.

And that’s exactly what happened.

The LORD killed every single one of the firstborn sons of Egypt, but He passed over the firstborn sons of Israel when He saw the blood.

How many here are firstborn sons?

I am. ... How many have a firstborn son?

The Bible says there was loud wailing in Egypt that night.

I can only imagine. When my firstborn daughter died back in 1999, I wailed in that hospital room. I can’t imagine what it sounded like throughout Egypt when it happened in every single house!

But not in the houses of Israel where there was the blood of the lamb on the frame of the door.

The Jews have been reenacting this now for 1500 years when Jesus comes to Jerusalem to eat it the Passover with His disciples.

But there has never been a Passover like this one.

The disciples ask where Jesus wants to eat the Passover.

And Jesus has a plan. He tells them to go into the city to a certain man (the other gospels tell us that it’s a man carrying a jar of water which was unusual for a man to do) and tell this certain man that Jesus is coming over for dinner.

Look at verse 18 again. "...tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'’

Here’s the first thing I want to emphasize this morning. We saw it last week, too.

#1. HE KNOWS.

I kept writing it in the margin of my Scriptures in verses 17 through 25.

“He knows.”

Obviously He knew that this man was going to be there and give them an upper room to eat the Passover. I don’t know if that is supernatural foreknowledge or something Jesus has secretly arranged so that He can do this quietly without the fuss and the crowds.

Either way, He knows.

But He knows a lot more than that. He knows it’s His time.

Don’t miss that phrase in verse 19, “My appointed time is near.”

He’s knows what’s going to happen.

And He’s knows that it’s close.

He’s told them that. We saw it last week in verse 2.

Matthew wants us to get the drift. Jesus knows what’s up this week. Tomorrow!

It’s His time.

His disciples probably thought He meant it was time for Him to kick out the Roman occupiers. Maybe send some more plagues their way!

No. It’s time for Jesus to...you know.

And He knows.

And He is choosing it.

He’s clearly in charge here. He’s the one calling the shots. He’s the one ordering the steps. V.19

“So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.”

And what a Passover it was!

Verse 20.

“When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. [Remember what we said last week about how they laid on their sides or tummies towards a low central table. I read this week that it wasn’t so much a wheel with spokes like I said last week as a U-shaped sort of thing, more box-like than a circle but with an open side for the food to get served on. But heads towards one another. Still very intimate. V.21] And while they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.’”

He knows!

He knows that He’s going to be betrayed.

He knows that there is a traitor in their midst.

And He tells them so.

And they are shocked. V.22

“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.”

That could be any of them!

They’ve all been putting their breadsticks in the marinara sauce!

Or their unleavened breadsticks in the bitter herbs.

He knows it’s one of them.

And He also knows just how bad it is. Verse 24

“The Son of Man [there’s that title again] 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.’”

What a devastating sentence!

What great theology! You see the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man in the exact same verse. I don’t know exactly how those two things work together, but I am sure they do!

God’s plan will be enacted, but that doesn’t mean that we are not responsible when we sin.

“Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Jesus knows.

It’s amazing that Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man here.

The Son of Man who is going to come in glory at a time known only the Father?! He just got done teaching about that a few days ago.

But this same Son of Man is going to (v.24) “go just as it was written about him.”

I think that’s talking about Scriptures like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter [Passover!], and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.”

The Son of Man is going to “go just as it was written about him.”

And He knows it.

And He chooses it.

And He knows who is going to betray Him. V.25

“Then Judas, the one who would betray him [thirty pieces of silver], said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ [Doesn’t call Him ‘Lord.’] Jesus answered, ‘Yes, it is you.’ [Literally He says, “You have said it.” I don’t think everybody got it at the time, but I’m sure Judas did. “He knows!”]

He knows!

And still He goes forward.

This should make us so grateful.

It should cause us to wonder and marvel and worship.

That God would have such a plan and that Jesus would know that plan and enact that plan. It’s just too much to take in!

It should also give us great confidence as we walk through this life.

Because we know that He knows.

There is so much we don’t know! But not Jesus. He knows.

He knows and still He gives.

#2. HE GIVES.

Now, pretend you don’t know what’s coming next.

I know that you’ve come prepared to eat the Lord’s Supper.

I know that you know that this is what we call the Last Super.

Or from the Greek for “give thanks,” the Eucharist. “The He Gave Thanks Meal.”

Or we often call this, “Communion” because of the fellowship aspect of it. Fellowship with God and fellowship with the Church.

But humor me and pretend for a second that you don’t know what’s coming next.

Because the disciples didn’t.

They thought they were just eating the Passover with Jesus.

Like Jews had for 1500 years.

But all of a sudden, Jesus is going to do something NEW with it.

He’s going to make this meal all about Him.

Keep your eye on the ball. V.26

“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.’”

That has never happened before at a Passover meal.

For 1500 years, there has been food (roasted lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread) and drink (customarily 4 glasses of wine per participant, four rounds to go with the four promises that God made to Israel in Exodus 6 when He said that He would rescue them from Egypt.)

And there have been speeches made for the last 1500 years.

A youngster is supposed to ask, “What does all of this mean?”

And the head of the household is supposed to explain what the symbolism all stands for.

But this has never happened in 1500 years.

This man takes the bread and breaks it, and He calls it, “My body.” He makes it all about Himself. And what do you call a broken body, broken into pieces?

A dead man.

He is saying “This is my death.”

And then He passes it around! He gives it to His disciples at the Passover meal in little pieces.

And He says, “Take a little piece of my death.”

I can just imagine the disciples’ look of puzzlement on their faces.

“What did He say?”

“Take and eat; this is my body.”

I think that’s obviously symbolic. He couldn’t have meant it literally at that point. He’s standing there in His body.

It’s obviously symbolic, but it’s a powerful symbol!

“This is what’s going to happen to me. I’m going to be broken.

I am giving my life.

Now, here, take some.

Take some of my death to get my life.”

He gives!

Don’t miss the symbolism of His distribution of this bread.

He gives it out to them because He’s giving His life for them. [GRAB THE CUP]

V.27  “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them [see that?], 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.”

Can you believe how many people have focused on the cup? Making it a holy grail?

The point is not the cup!

The point is not what’s in the cup!

The point is what what’s in the cup stands for.

“This is MY BLOOD, and I’m giving it up for you.”

That has never happened before at any Passover meal. I guarantee.

Do you see how Jesus is tying everything back to Him?

He’s actually the Lamb, too, isn’t He? Paul knew that. He says in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that Christ is our Passover Lamb. He fulfills Exodus 12 and Isaiah 53.

But Jesus takes it even further by transforming the Passover bread and the Passover drink to stand for His sacrificial death on the Cross.

He knows what’s coming in just a few hours.

And He chooses it.

He chooses to give Himself.

“Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant.”

This is the required sacrifice to enact the New Covenant.

What Jesus is about to do will unleash the power of the New Covenant on the New Covenant People.

It will make all of the difference for all of our lives and for all of eternity!

And it will mean the forgiveness of our sins.

That is unbelievably good news!

Because the Lord knows we are sinners in need of forgiveness.

I’m sure that the disciples didn’t know what to make of what they just heard. But it’s clear that they thought a lot about it in the years to come.

And the church has rehearsed this new kind of Passover meal for the last 2000 years.

We do it here monthly.

Lots of churches do it every week.

It’s a deeply symbolic way of reminding ourselves just what Jesus gave for us.

He gave His body and He gave us blood.

For the forgiveness of our sins.

Do you know that?

Have you received that?

Have you received that gift of forgiveness through His blood?

This is the meaning of His death.

Jesus was saying in advance what the Cross was going to mean and do.

This is why Jesus is allowing Judas to betray Him.

This is why Jesus is going to go through every other awful thing in chapters 26 and 27.

And He knows that this all is coming.

And He chooses it because He’s choosing to give.

Have you received that gift?

If not, why not?

I know that some people say, “I don’t deserve.”

You’re absolutely right. You don’t!

This is scandalous grace.

Jesus does this for people who do not deserve it.

This is for the forgiveness of SINS!

Take in His death and gain His life.

And don’t you dare say that Jesus’ body and blood aren’t powerful enough for your sins!

Don’t devalue what He did on that Cross. Don’t you dare.

This is the New Exodus. The New Rescue.

Not from slavery to Egypt, but slavery to sin.

What’s in this cup stands for freedom.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Are you in that "many?"

You can be if you repent and come in.

He knows and He foreknows.
He gives, and He forgives.
He tells and He foretells.

#3. HE PROMISES.

He promises His return and His kingdom. V.29

“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 Father's kingdom.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

Some people think that Jesus held up the third of four cups of wine to institute the Lord’s Supper, and He left the last cup on the table as they walked out singing to the Mount of Olives.

And that’s possible. I don’t know. That would be pretty dramatic. All of those cups left behind.

What I do know is that He said that He wouldn’t be drinking from the fruit of the vine again (again He knows) until “that day.”

A day in the future.

A great eschatological day.

A day when the Son of Man comes in all of His glory and sets up Messianic Banquet!

Jesus promises to return and to drink again one day “anew with you in...” [Don’t miss it!] “...MY Father’s kingdom.”

Jesus’ favorite thing to talk about. He’s talking about it again just hours before the Cross.

His Father has a kingdom, and it’s coming for sure.

We don’t know when! Right? We don’t know when.

But we know that the kingdom is coming for sure.

Because the King is coming back, and when He does, there will be a great celebration forever.

The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:26 “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”

We don’t know when that will be, but we know that He promised it, and that He always keeps His promises.

And what a day that will be!

Isaiah says, “The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

And we’ll drink from the fruit of the vine anew with Jesus in His Father’s Kingdom.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing

Sunday, January 05, 2020

"A Beautiful Thing" [Matt's Messages]

“A Beautiful Thing”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 5, 2020 :: Matthew 26:1-16

Last week (last year, last decade!), we concluded our study of the Olivet Discourse Matthew 24 and 25, that great big final teaching on eschatology, the doctrine of Last Things, Jesus’ teaching on Jesus’ own return.

And now in chapter 26, we turn the corner back into the crucial events of that crucial week that we often call Passion Week or Holy Week.

We’ve actually been slowly walking together through the events of this crucial week in Matthew since the month of July.

These events are worthy of our close study and careful consideration especially for application, for what they mean for our lives today. These crucial events are at the center of the gospel that we believe.

Now, here’s the title for today’s message:

I’ve stolen it from verse 10. It’s called, “A Beautiful Thing.”

Because in today’s passage a woman does to Jesus what Jesus calls “a beautiful thing.”

That’s not how everybody sees it, but it’s how Jesus sees it, and how Jesus sees something is the right way to see a thing!

“A Beautiful Thing.”

You know, there are really two beautiful things in this passage, and there are at least 2 really ugly things in our story, as well.

And there are also two major prophecies by the Lord Jesus.

One that has already come to pass, and one that is going to come to pass in this very room on this very day!

How’s that for a prediction?

How do you feel about fulfilling a prophecy of Jesus this very morning in this very room? Want to do that?

Now, remember, Matthew did not put these verse numbers in his book.

The great big 26 is there to help us find it, but Matthew didn’t put it there.

Matthew flows right from chapter 25 right into chapter 26.

He flows right from the Son of Man judging all the nations like a Shepherd separating the sheep from the goats right into these words. Matthew 26, verse 1.

“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.’”
What an amazing ending to this End Times Teaching!

Jesus just said that the Son of Man [same words] was going to come in all of His glory with all of His angels and sit on His glorious throne.

In almost the next breath He says that the Son of Man is going to be handed over to be crucified, this week!

The judge of all of the nations is going to be judged Himself!

And He’s going to be executed on a Cross!

I know that we know this already, but this is utterly incredible!

The crucial events of this week are incredibly strange.

They are incredibly ironic.

They are incredibly upside-down.

Nobody would ever come up with this story if it weren’t true!

The Son of Man is going to be handed over to be crucified.

Here’s the first strangely beautiful thing I want to point out to you:

Jesus knows this, and Jesus is choosing it.

It’s one thing that we all know it in hindsight.

It’s a whole other thing that Jesus knew it with foresight.

What day is this? I think it’s Tuesday of Passion Week.

It seems that Jesus taught this Eschatological Olivet Discourse on the Tuesday of this Crucial Week.

And Passover is going to happen on Thursday. It’s two days away.

If you knew that you were scheduled to be executed in State College in two days, what would you do today?

I don’t know about you, but I would get in my mini-van and head towards Chicago!

But Jesus hangs around town.

Jesus knows what’s going on, and Jesus is choosing it.

That’s a beautiful thing.

In just a few minutes, we’re going to remember Jesus’ crucifixion at His Table.

And we need to remember that He chose it.

Not only did it not take Him by surprise, He walked right up to it.

And He told His disciples that it was coming.

And, for us, that’s a beautiful thing.

Now here’s the first ugly thing in today’s story. I think it happened on the next day, on Wednesday. It’s a conspiracy, a devious plot, and it’s in verse 3.

“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.”

I love that Matthew tells us that it’s Jesus’ plan before he tells us about these bad leaders’ plan.

So we don’t get the idea that they are truly in charge. They can’t do a thing (even such an evil thing) that doesn’t somehow conform to the grand plan of God.

But it is an evil thing they plan.

They plan a murder.

They plan the assassination of an innocent man.

This is the first time in a long time in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus is not center stage. Jesus isn’t in this scene. This conspiracy takes place at Caiaphas’ house (the son of the last high priest who was named high priest by Rome by that Governor Quirinius that we always hear about on Christmas Eve). Interestingly, in 1990, archaeologists uncovered what they think may be Caiaphas’ house and maybe even discovered the box (the ossuary) that his bones were buried in.

Caiaphas is the high priest, and with him mare are the chief priests and the elders, but they are not leading the nation for God and for good.

They are doing evil.

They are plotting to arrest and secretly kill Jesus.

Just let that sink in.

These religious people planned to kill Jesus.

Verse 5. “‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or there may be a riot among the people.’”

They want to wait a week.

They want to wait until the big holiday crowds go home. Jesus has been too popular, and they don’t want to stir something up.

Question: Do they get their wish?

Well, they do get to kill Jesus.

But they don’t get to do it when they wanted.

I think that’s so ironic!

When do they get to kill Jesus?

On the day that Jesus said they would.

I wonder who is really in charge here?!

Now, here’s the story of the beautiful thing.

It’s actually a flashback a few days in time. If you track this event in the other gospels, John tells us that it actually happened before the Triumphal Entry.

But I think Matthew places it here in his book to juxtapose it with what Judas does in the next story.

Regardless, it happened, and it was a beautiful thing. V.6

“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.”

Now, it’s really something that Jesus is in the home of a guy named “Simon the Leper.” I mean if he’s still leper, Jesus was disobeying the Mosaic Law, but it probably means that Simon used to be a leper. That Simon is now healed.

I wonder who did that?

And at this home in Bethany, this woman comes to Jesus with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, and she pours it on the head of Jesus as he is reclining at the table.

This is an amazing thing.

They don’t have tall tables with chairs like ours.

They have low tables in the center and like cots or low benches or mats that they lay on like spokes on a wheel coming out from the food. They reclined at the table.

And this woman (John’s gospel tells us that this is actually Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. I wonder if Simon the Former Leper was their father? This woman...) steps past Jesus’ feet and probably breaks the head off of the alabaster stone jar and begins pouring this stuff on Jesus’ head. The rest of the gospels say that she proceeded to pour it on His whole body down to feet.

The whole jar of perfume is poured out.

Can you imagine the smell?

Have you ever poured out a whole bottle of perfume? I haven’t!

I don’t think we can get the sense of what this must have been like.

We don’t really have anything like this in our culture.

It’s not like pouring the gatorade on your coach after a win.

This is an act of anointing.

Like Psalm 23, “You anoint my head with oil.”

Or more like Psalm 133, “like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes.”

Full immersion in fragrant liquid.

And it is costly.

Matthew tells us that it was “very expensive perfume.”

How expensive?

Mark tell us that it was worth more than a year’s wages.

More than a year’s wages?!!!

How much do you make in a year?

How much are you scheduled to make in 2020?

Imagine having that much money saved up in a saving account at the bank.

And on a Saturday morning, right after the bank opens, you walk in the door. And you ask for the whole thing. The teller on the other side of the counter winces at the thought of just handing you your big lump sum, a year’s wages saved in their account.

And they talk with the Branch manager, and they come back to you and they say, "Would you come into my office, uhhm I understand that you want a cashier's check for your whole savings account.  Do you understand that that totals about a whole year’s wages?"
 
You indicate that you do.

So she says, "Uhh, I don't want to pry, and it's your money and you can have it any time you want, so I'll print out the check, but I am curious. Are you taking your business somewhere else? Because if you are, I would like to know if there's something about our service or our rates that is causing you to go elsewhere.  And I'd like a chance to talk with you about getting you a better deal here.”
 
Now imagine, that you look her square in the eye and say this: "Oh no, I have been more than pleased with the service here. You have a great bank. But today I'm going to use my one year’s wages."

"Oh, I see. Are you buying a house with cash? Or two Sport Utility Vehicle with cash?"
 
"No, I'm going to buy a vial of perfume."

"Perfume? You're going to buy a vat of expensive perfume?"
 
"No, a small amount, I'm guessing around ½ a liter, 11 ounces."
 
"You are going to buy a year’s salary worth of perfume today?  Just 11 ounces?"
 
"That's right. Is my check ready?"
 
"Uh, just a second. I just have a couple more questions. Uhhmm, what are you going to do with that perfume? Is this some kind of an investment?"
 
"Oh, I guess you could call it that. I plan to break the top of the bottle and pour it out on someone today."

"What? .... Who could be worth that?"

Do you see?

Now, she probably didn’t buy it this day. It was probably a family heirloom. It might have represented the family fortune. We don’t know.

What we do know is that she poured it all out on Jesus that day.

What a woman!

By the way, the women in Matthew’s gospel are the best disciples. They are often overlooked, but they are consistently the most faithful and greatest role models for our discipleship today.

Never underestimate a woman who is a true disciple of Jesus Christ!

But that’s exactly what the male disciples do at this moment.

And, I think, they underestimate Jesus at the same time. V.8

“When the disciples saw this [pouring out of this expensive perfume on Jesus], 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.’”

Now, of course, they have a point.

She could have sold this stuff and given it the money to the poor.

And that would have been a good thing.

Not a bad thing to do.

We should take stock of what we have and ask if we’re leveraging it in the right ways especially in regards to the poor.

Matthew just finished narrating Jesus’ story about the King who said that when we do generous things for the least of these his brothers, we are doing it for Him, including feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless.

Let’s be doing that!

But the disciples were missing something here.

“Why this waste?” they asked?

They do not see what has truly happened.

But Jesus did. Sopping wet with redolent scent, verse 10.

“Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. [CSB “a noble thing.”] The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

This act is not a waste.

This is worship!

That’s what worship is, you know.

It’s “worth-ship.” Worship is an act that shows the value you place on something.

If you put all of your money or all of your time into something, you can probably say that you are worshiping it.

If you do nothing but work, especially when you don’t have to, your can be worshiping your work (instead of worshiping with your work).

If you spend all of your time on sports or hunting or reading books or whatever is your hobby, it could be properly said that you worship your hobby.

Some people worship their families.

Worship is whatever you do to indicate the ultimate worth of something to you.

This woman with her lavish act was saying that Jesus was worth everything to her.

So this is a great question to start a new year and a new decade with.

What is Jesus worth to you?

And how do you show it?

What is Jesus worth to you in 2020 and how can you demonstrate it?

Are you surprised that Jesus makes this all about Him?

This is the Gospel of Matthew, after all. So we need to keep our eyes on the ball.

The disciples had their eyes on the perfume. And their eyes on the money.

The other gospels tell us that Judas was the primary one who objected here. No wonder. He was the treasurer. And he was the traitor. But they all agreed.

"This was a waste!"

But Jesus says that it isn’t a waste.

Yes, we should serve the poor. But they will always be here.

But you have a limited window here and an unique opportunity here because Jesus Himself is here!

“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

So this is a beautiful thing!

This is costly worship.

This is extravagant worship.

And catch this: Jesus believes that He is worth it!

What’s amazing here is that Jesus doesn’t stop her.

Jesus doesn’t demur.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Oh, no, no. Let’s not do that. Let’s save our perfume. Let’s sell it and give to the poor. Or keep that money for your savings.”

No, Jesus basically says, “Thank you. I deserve that.”

This is not a waste. This appropriate worship.

What is Jesus worth to you in 2020 and how are you planning to show it?

What are you planning to do with your money, your time, your treasures, your relationships, everything that is of value to you, to show that Jesus is your ultimate treasure?

I think we all ought to spend some time today answering that question for ourselves.

Jesus is not expecting us to get out our life savings at the bank and buy a jar of perfume and pour it out on Him.

We can’t. He’s not here physically.

But He does expect and deserve our worship.

What beautiful things might we do as a church family in 2020 to show the world that Jesus is worthy?

Here’s a good way to get at this.

What are you doing or planning to do that others might say, “Why this waste?” if they don’t see how worthy Jesus is?

If there is nothing in your life that an unbeliever would shake their head at, then you need new priorities for a new year.

Because Jesus should be our number one priority.

“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

And yet we do always have Him spiritually. V.12

“When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.”

She might not have known that was coming, but Jesus does.

Jesus knows that He is the Messiah which means the Anointed One.

And this anointing was not to do battle like King David with His slingshot and sword.

This anointing was to do battle by dying on the Cross.

“She did it to prepare me for burial.”

Jesus’ victory begins with His death.

Verse 13.

“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.’”

Do you see it?

It just happened.

This prophecy of Jesus was just fulfilled in this very room!

We are preaching the gospel and we are telling the story of this woman and what she did.

It was the opposite of a waste.

It was a timeless act of worship.

Worthy of retelling and retelling and retelling so that all generations know that Jesus is worth it all.

Here we are doing it right now.

Her act of extravagant worship is a blessing on the world. And that’s a beautiful thing.

What acts of beautiful, extravagant worship might you and I do to be a blessing to this world in 2020?

This woman valued Jesus highly.

Sadly, Judas valued Jesus lowly. What an ugly thing! V.14

“Then one of the Twelve [what a phrase]–the one called Judas Iscariot–went to the chief priests [from verses 3-5] and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ [Same root word for “handed over” in Jesus’ prediction of v.2] So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”

This will move things up on the timetable from what they originally wanted. But now they have an inside man.

An inside man, a traitor, who has just valued Jesus at 30 silver coins. Perhaps a 120 days’ wages. The cost of replacing an ox.

And this was not what Judas thought he would spend on Jesus.

This is what Judas thought he could get for selling out Jesus.

What is Jesus worth to you?

The contrast between these two valuations of Jesus could not be more stark.

Judas devaluing Jesus to thirty silver coins.

The woman valuing Jesus at the greatest worth.

You and I, today, are probably somewhere in between those two.

If you have been like Judas, I invite you to repent and come to trust in Jesus and worship Him as your highest treasure.

Amazingly, Jesus’ blood is precious enough to cover all of our sinful devaluing of Him, bringing us forgiveness and new life.

Repent and receive Him today.

And all of us should take time right now and today to take stock of our lives and ask what in our life shows how much we value Jesus.

What in our life does the world say, “Why this waste?”

“Who could be worth that?”

Because, amazingly, Jesus who is worth all of this, counted it joy to go to the Cross for us.

“For the joy set before Him, He endured the Cross.”

Remember, He knew.

He knew this in advance.

And He chose it.

He knew even when she didn’t know.

He said, “When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.”

“This is my body broken for you.

This is my blood poured out for you.”

Not just perfume but blood.

And that is a beautiful thing.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Books I Read in 2019


I've had a tremendous year for reading books.

If I get a chance (no time this week!), I'll write more about the good stuff I got to read, list my "top books of 2019," and share some of the things I've been learning, but here's the full list and a few links to short reviews I produced along the way.

Matt’s Books Completed* in 2019:
1. Palace Council by Stephen L. Carter
2. The Civil War As a Theological Crisis by Mark Noll
3. Creation and Doxology edited by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson
4. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
5. Don’t Just Send a Resume by Benjamin Vrbicek [my review]
6. The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
7. The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
8. Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers
9. Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
10. Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness by Dale Ralph Davis [my review]
11. The Reckoning by John Grisham
12. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
13. Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie
14. Jesus and the Future by Andreas Kostenberger, Alexander Stewart, and Apollo Makara
15. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
16. The Souls of Black Folk of W.E.B. Du Bois
17. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
18. The Grass Widow’s Tale by Ellis Peters
19. Contemporary Theology by Kirk MacGregor [my review]
20. Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
21. Point Man by Steve Farrar
22. Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop [a sremon this year inspired by reading this book]
23. Unstuck by Tim Lane [my review]
24. The High Window by Raymond Chandler
25. So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger
26. Black City by Boris Akunin
27. Anger: Calming Your Heart by Robert D. Jones [my review]
28. None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God by Matthew Barrett
29. The House of Green Turf by Ellis Peters
30. Feels Like Home by Lee Eclov
31. Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
32. Psalms 1-72 by Derek Kidner
33. Mourning Raga by Ellis Peters
34. Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin
35. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammet
36. God Is by Mark Jones
37. Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry
38. 7 Myths About Singleness by Sam Allberry [a big help with this sermon]
39. Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition by Craig Carter
40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
41. God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew Walker
42. A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
43. Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon
44. The Pacific and Other Stories by Mark Helprin
45. Quietly While They Sleep by Donna Leon
46. In Sunlight and Shadow by Mark Helprin
47. A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon
48. The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh
49. Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie
50. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
51. J-Curve: Rising and Dying with Jesus in Everyday Life by Paul E. Miller [my initial thoughts, my final evaluation]
52. Fearing Others: Putting God First by Zach Schlegel
53. Death and Judgment by Donna Leon
54. Anxiety: Knowing God’s Peace by Paul Tautges [my review]
55. The Eighteen-Carat Kid and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse
56. Acqua Alta by Donna Leon
57. The Knocker on Death’s Door by Ellis Peters
58. A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon
59. Safe and Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles by David Powlison
60. Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang
61. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel by Costi Hinn
62. Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon
63. Beyond Authority and Submission by Rachel Green Miller
64. God Without Measure: Working Papers in Christian Theology (Vol 1. God and the Works of God) by John Webster
65. Radically Different by Champ Thornton [my review]
66. Friends in High Places by Donna Leon
67. The Mating Season by P.G. Wodehouse
68. Psalm 119 for Life by Hwyel R. Jones
69. Openness Unhindered by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
70. The Blessed Hope by George Ladd
71. The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon
72. Pornography: Fighting for Purity by Deepak Reju
73. Suffering and the Heart of God by Diane Langberg
74. Open Season by C.J. Box
75. The Art of Rest by Adam Mabry [pungent quote and evaluation]
76. Wesley on the Christian Life by Fred Sanders
77. The Best Gift Ever by Ronnie Martin
78. The Triune God by Fred Sanders [second reading, one of my top books of 2017]
79. Uniform Justice by Donna Leon
80. The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams
81. The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller
82. Psalms 73-150 by Derek Kidner
83. Psalms (Tyndale Old Testatment Commentaries) by Tremper Longman


***

* As in previous years, these are books I finished reading (or had read to me in Audible) in 2019, not the ones I started or the ones I didn't get done. That list would be a LOT longer! I read a bunch of them for escapist fun, a few for/with my family, and a lot of them just to learn and grow. They aren't listed (perfectly) in the order I read them. Some of them I am reading for a second or third time (or more!).

As I say each and every year--I'm not endorsing these books just because they are listed here. Some of them are really good and some are really bad. Most are somewhere in between. Read with discernment.

Here's the article where I explain why I post these.

Lists from previous years:

2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008 (first half, second half)
2007 (first half, second half)
2006 (first half, second half)
2005 (first half, second half)