Sunday, January 26, 2020

“It Must Happen In This Way” [Matt's Messages]

“It Must Happen In This Way”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 26, 2020 :: Matthew 26:47-56

Do you remember where we left Jesus last week?

A lot of you couldn’t be here last week because of the weather.

We left Jesus just getting up from being facedown in the garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus has eaten the Passover meal with His disciples (and He made it all about Himself!).

And He has predicted that one of the Twelve will betray Him.

And He has predicted that Peter will deny Him.

And He has predicted that all of them will abandon Him.

And then He has gotten down on His face in the garden to pray and pray and pray.

And He was so overwhelmed in prayer that He almost died.

Jesus asked His Father to take away this cup, this excruciating experience of suffering the wrath of God.

But He submitted to the Father’s will.

“Yet not as I will but as you will.”

“Your will be done.”

And then Jesus rose up from facedown and faced the onslaught of what was to come.

He said, “Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer.”

That’s where we left Jesus in verse 46.

Today, I just want to try to get to verse 56.

I know that’s little more than a paragraph, but time has slowed down and so have we.

These tragic events are so important for our lives today.

They make all of the difference, shaping our reality, so they are worthy of intense examination and concentration.

But I warn you. It just gets worse and worse.

In fact, here is where it really starts to get bad.

Because here is where the actual injustice begins to kick in and build.

Up till now, it was all coming, swirling around and on the way, but now it’s right here in the garden, in all of its ugliness, and depravity, and turpitude.

And we’re going to feel it.

We need to feel how terrible all of this is.

But we also need to see and feel how Jesus is choosing it.

We’ve seen it already. Jesus is mysteriously in charge.

He knows this is coming, and yet He doesn’t run away.

In fact, He walks right to it. Jesus walks right up to it!

And He seems, in some strange way to be orchestrating it all.

Nothing happens here without Jesus’ permission! He’s choosing it.

Today, in verse 54, Jesus says that all of this, all of this terrible stuff, has to happen.

He says, “It Must Happen In This Way.”

That’s our title for today: “It Must Happen In This Way.”

The King James Version simply says, “Thus it must be.”

Everything about this story is wrong! This story is full of darkness and evil.

And yet Jesus says it must happen.

God has willed it.

And Jesus is committed to carrying out God’s will. Carrying out God’s plan.

Jesus has gotten His answer to “Is there another way?”

And the answer is, “No. This is it. This is the plan.”

And so Jesus has bowed His head and said, “Your will be done.” And now He’s carrying it out.

Matthew 26:47.

“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people.”

Can you imagine?

Jesus has just gotten up from prayer in the middle of the night. This is probably after midnight, so we would call it “Friday.” For them, it’s the same day because their days began at sundown. But it’s the beginning of what we call “Good Friday.”

And it’s dark.

But Judas has found Jesus in dark.

We don’t know exactly how. Perhaps they went to the upper room first and found that Jesus and His disciples had left.

Maybe the owner told Judas where they had gone.

Or maybe Judas already knew exactly where to find Jesus...because he did.

And he brought a mob with him.

A large crowd armed with swords and clubs.

They are scared. They will not take no for an answer.

They come with authority. They are sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Those men that Jesus had been sparring with all week in the temple courts.

They sent their lackeys to come collect Jesus.

There are Romans soldiers sprinkled in here, too. The Gospel of John tells us.

They are probably there to make sure that Jesus comes along quietly.

They are afraid of Him!

But the most tragic thing in this sentence is how Matthew calls Judas, “one of the Twelve.” He keeps saying that!

“One of the Twelve.”

Just like Jesus had predicted in verses 23 and 24, “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.”

Do you see the tension there?

Judas is choosing this.

But mysteriously God is also choosing this.

It must happen in this way.

“One of the twelve!”

Jesus chose to be:


“Now the betrayer [what a word!] had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’”

They didn’t have facial recognition software.

They didn’t have photographs.

If you didn’t personally know which one was Jesus, He might get away!

This is how Judas was earning his money. Guiding them right to our Lord.

But how He did it?!

With a kiss. V.49

“Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him.”

That is the height of hypocrisy, is it not?

We have said that Jesus hates fakeness.

Saying you’re one thing on the outside but inside you’re actually something completely different.

Well, how about kissing Jesus, while stabbing Him in the back?

How about calling Jesus, “Rabbi,” while doing the absolute opposite of following Him?

This is the height of hypocrisy.

And we should all stop and examine our hearts to see where we have fallen into hypocrisy ourselves.

Never just look at Judas and say, “I would never do that.”

At the least say, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

But also say, “Lord, keep me from hypocrisy.”

The worst thing in the world to be is a fake disciple.

And there was never a more fake disciple than Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve.

Is there anything in your life where you are acting all lovey towards Jesus on the outside, but you are actually masking something evil against Him on the inside?

Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.

Judas was so close to the kingdom!

He walked around with the kingdom for 3 years!

He is kissing the king!

But He was outside of the kingdom.

Don’t miss the kingdom!

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.

But what I want you to really see is that Jesus doesn’t resist Him.

Don’t focus very long on Judas.

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

What does Jesus do? V.50

“Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’”

Jesus is choosing this.

The Greek is very short. It basically just says, “what you came for.”

Some translations think it’s question, “Why did you come?”

But it’s probably more of just a statement. “I know why you are here. Go ahead and get it over with.”

Jesus could have stepped back and not taken that monstrous kiss!

Jesus could have walked away from the whole thing.

But instead, He leans into it. He receives the kiss.

And He says, “Okay. Let’s get on with it.”

He’s still in charge.

Because He knows that it must happen in this way.

He has predicted it. And the Bible has predicted it.

Remember Psalm 41 from last Palm Sunday? The Song of the Sick King.

David sang, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”

It must happen in this way.

So Jesus chooses it.

And He chooses to be:


Listen to these terrible words in verse 50.

“Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.”

They put. their. hands. on Jesus!

They had no right.

He has done nothing wrong.

He deserves all of their allegiance.

And He is getting all of their injustice.

They have laid their hands on Him and arrested Him.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be arrested.

And in fact, He is choosing it.

Jesus is allowing this injustice to occur.

He allowed the kiss; now He allows the arrest.

One his disciples does not allow it. Verse 51.

“With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.”

Guess which one it was?

John tells us that it was Peter which is not a big surprise.

Apparently, he was packing heat.

And he told Jesus he wasn’t going deny Him.

So he probably goes to chop off the guys’ head, and the guy moved out of the way an just lost an ear.

(By the way, John tells us that his name was Malchus and Luke tells us that Jesus put the ear back on him and healed it! That’d be a story to tell your wife when you got home from arresting Jesus!)

Matthew doesn’t tell us any of that. Matthew focuses us on Jesus. V.52

“‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

I don’t need your little sword!

That is completely unnecessary.

You don’t have to defend Jesus with violence.

Violence like that just begets more violence.

Now, I’m not saying that Jesus was teaching pacificism here.

He says to put the sword back in its place, not throw it away. There is a proper place for swords.

But Jesus doesn’t need our swords!

And once you start pulling a sword, get ready to see a lot more swords. And you know how that will probably end. Badly.

But Jesus doesn’t need our swords. Listen to Him again in verse 53.

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

Do you know how many angels that is?

I used to think it was 10,000 angels.

10,000 flaming sword wielding powerful supernatural soldiers from another world.

But it’s not.

It’s more like 72,000 angels.

A legion was about 6,000 Roman soldiers.

And Jesus says that at the snap of a finger, He could have one legion for all 11 of His remaining disciples and one for Himself.

But He’s not going to ask for it.

Because He has chosen the cup, not the sword.

He isn’t bringing this kingdom our way.

He is doing it God’s way.

And God’s way at this moment was through non-resistance.

God’s way at this moment was through submission.

God’s way at this moment was through suffering.

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? [I could! He would! Verse 54.] But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’”

There is one of Matthew’s favorite words right there. “Fulfill.”

Matthew loved it because Jesus loved it.

Remember the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew 5:17

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures.

God has made some promises, and Jesus is here to see that they are kept!

God has made some predictions, and Jesus is here to see that they are fulfilled.

Psalm 41, Psalm 55, Psalm 69, Psalm 22. We’re going to hear echoes of these passages over the next several weeks as this story just gets worse and worse. Terrible and more terrible. Awful and more awful.

Nothing clearer than Isaiah 53.

“He was oppressed and afflicted [and arrested!], yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

“It must happen in this way” so the Scriptures may be fulfilled.

Jesus is saying, “Your will be done.”

And Isaiah said, “ was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer...”

“Your will be done.”

Everything about this story is wrong, and yet it must happen in this way.

God is planning to use this injustice to make everything right in the universe.

So, Jesus does not resist.

He does point out how unjust it is. V.55

“At that time Jesus said to the crowd, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.”

Unarmed. In plain sight. No threats. No swords.

No crimes committed.

Just sitting there teaching away.

But you slink in here at night. This is foolish and evil and wrong. V.55

“But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

It must happen in this way.


Second to last time that Matthew will use that word in his gospel.

You and I should be so glad that Jesus chose this.

We should be horrified that He had to.

There is nothing good here. This is an evil injustice, and it’s just going to get worse.

But Jesus chose it to do the Father’s will, to carry out the Father’s plan, and to keep the Father’s promises.

And that gives us great confidence that God will always keep His promises.

Because if He will go to these lengths to make sure that His promises are fulfilled, sparing not His own son? Then how much more will He do everything else He promised.

Let me say a word about boldness for 2020.

In Acts chapter 4, the early church had a prayer meeting because they were being persecuted for their faith.

And they had prayed about what to do.

But they didn’t just pray that God would stop the persecution.

They prayed that God would do that and that God would enable them to share the gospel with boldness.

And listen to the reason why they prayed that way.

Acts 4:24. “‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? [Psalm 2] The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.' Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. [Listen.] They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. [It must happen in this way. Now listen to them pray...] Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

They were able to be bold because they believed that God was sovereign.

And that all of these things that happened to Jesus didn’t just happen.

They were a part of God’s plan that Jesus was choosing to enact.

So we, too, can be bold because we know these things must have happened in this way.

But the disciples sure weren’t bold that day.

Instead, they fled. V.56

“Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.”


Jesus chose that, too.

He could have kept them there if He tried.

But He just said that all of this had “taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

Just like Zechariah 13:7, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

I’m sure it hurt.

Jesus wanted them to be close to Him when He prayed.

I’m sure He would have loved some company during His trial.

But instead He is abandoned and alone.

Just like He said He would be.

But at least He knew that there was a reason for it.

In fact, He was choosing the reason.

He was choosing to fulfill the word of the Lord.

He was seeing to it that Scriptures were fulfilled that say that it must happen in this way.


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"