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.


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 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.


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.


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