“The Anointed Emmanuel” – Matthew 26:1-16

August 28th, 2016

Matthew 26:1-16 (See also Mk 14:1-11; Lk 22:1-6 & Jn 12:1-8)

“The Anointed Emmanuel”

Auxiliary Text: 2 Chr 15:1-15; Prv 2

Call to Worship from: Psalm 27


Service OrientationWhat are we willing to forfeit to have Jesus?   Do we really believe it is worth losing everything to have Jesus?  If we cannot answer, “Yes” then we don’t really know Him.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  — Matthew 10:37-38


Background Information:

  • The phrase “When Jesus had finished all these sayings” or its equivalent is used five times in this Gospel (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1), always ending a key teaching section and introducing the next narrative. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 762)
  • We now approach the closing scene of our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. Hitherto we have read of his sayings and doings:  we are now about to read of his sufferings and death.  Hitherto we have seen him as the Great Prophet; we are now about to see him as the great High Priest.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 249)
  • This is the end of Matthew’s record of Jesus’ teachings. When we read the Synoptic Gospels, we note that each of them reports substantially the same accounts, but they sometimes appear at very different points in the narrative.  That is, particular sayings of Jesus might appear in one location in Matthew, another in Mark, and still another in Luke.  It is the almost universal opinion of biblical scholars that the Gospel writers worked from a set of sayings called the logia (“words”) of Jesus, which words were maintained by an oral tradition with no efforts to keep them in a sequential context.  So, the work of the Gospel writers consisted in setting these teachings down in written form, and they were free to use their literary creativity to put each saying where it was most fitting from the perspective of that author.  That is what Matthew has been doing to this point.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 738)
  • (v. 2) We should notice the careful way in which Matthew connects the death of Jesus with the date of the Passover. Calvary was another Passover:  the angel of God again visited his people.  There was another blood sprinkled on the doorposts of our earth.  There was another paschal Lamb, another Life given for the remission of sins.  “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor 5:7).  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VII, 568)
  • (v. 2) A survey of the Passion sayings shows that Jesus spoke of His death at least twelve times before it happened. They are as follows: (1) His reference to the Bridegroom being removed, 9:15; (2) His statement at Peter’s confession, 16:21-24; (3) His sayings on the suffering of the Son of Man, 17:22-23; (4) His sayings following the Transfiguration, 17:9-12; (5) His saying about the cup, 20:22; (6) the ransom passage, 20:28; (7) the parable of the vineyard, 21:33-45; (8) the statement at His anointing, 26:12; (9) His prophecy of betrayal, 26:21; (10) His sayings at the Last Supper, 26:26-29; (11) the sayings about the Shepherd, 26:31; and (12) His sayings in Gethsemane, 26:39-44.  (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 287)
  • (v. 2) In the economy of God’s plan, it was absolutely fitting that the Lamb of God should be sacrificed at the time of the Passover. The national identity of the Jewish people was established at that point in antiquity when they were spared from the wrath of God in Egypt and then delivered by the exodus.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 739)
  • (v. 2) The people of God were delivered from the wrath of God when He struck the Egyptians. Where God saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, He passed by.  Egypt was subdued and the Israelites were freed, for which reason the Passover became a time of unparalleled celebration.  Thus, it was appropriate that this feast should be the time for the ultimate atonement, for the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, whose blood delivers from God’s wrath.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 739)
  • (v. 2) The governor at the time was Cestius; Cestius felt that Nero did not understand the number of the Jews and the problems which they posed to any governor. So he asked the high priests to take a census of the lambs killed for sacrifice at a certain Passover time.  Josephus goes on to say:  ‘A company of not less than ten must belong to every sacrifice (for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves), and many of us are twenty in a company.’  It was found that on this occasion the number of lambs killed was 256,500.  It is Josephus’ estimate that there were in the city for that Passover some 2,750,000 people.  (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible Volume Two, 383)
  • (v. 2) Jesus was not surprised by any of this. He knew it was the will of the Father that He go to the cross.  He had told His disciples about it weeks before:  “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up” (17:22b-23a).  He was aware of what was going to happen, and He was content with it.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 745-6)
  • (v. 3) His words and those of the conspirators seem to have been spoken at the same time, for the context seems to imply that here, for once, the full temporal sense must be given to the opening word of verse 3, “Then.” (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 898)
  • (v. 3) That Caiaphas was a rude and sly manipulator, an opportunist, who did not know the meaning of fairness or justice and who was bent on having his own way “by hook or by crook,” is clear from the passages in which he is mentioned (Mt 26:3, 57; Lk 3:2; Jn 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28; Acts 4-6). He did not shrink from shedding innocent blood.  What he himself ardently craved, for selfish purposes, he made to look as if it were the one thing needful for the welfare of the people.  In order to effect the condemnation of Jesus, who had aroused his envy (Mt 27:18), he was going to use devices which were the product of clever calculation and unprecedented boldness (Mt 26:57-66).  He was a hypocrite, for in the night trial, at the selfsame moment when he was filled with inner glee because he had found what he considered a ground for Christ’s condemnation, he tore his priestly robe as if overcome by profound sorrow!  Such was Caiaphas.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary–Matthew, 897)
  • (v. 3) Annas had been replaced by Caiaphas, which was illegal according to the Law; therefore, many Jews still regarded Annas as the true high priest. Caiaphas was the leader of the religious group called the Sadducees.  Educated and wealthy, the Sadducees were politically influential in the nation.  An elite group, they were on fairly good terms with Rome.  Caiaphas served for eighteen years, longer than most high priests, suggesting that he was gifted at cooperating with the Romans.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 502)
  • (v. 3) (Caiaphas) Having been appointed to the high priesthood by Valerius Gratus, the predecessor of Pontius Pilate, in the year A.D. 18, he was going to be deposed by Vitellus, the successor of Pontius Pilate, in the year A.D. 36. Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas, who was high priest from A.D. 6-15.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 896)
  • (v. 3) Caiaphas is called the high priest in Matthew and John (11:49); Luke (3:2; Acts 4:6) specifies Annas. There is no real conflict.  Annas was deposed by the secular authorities in A.D. 15 and replaced by Caiaphas, who lived and ruled till his death in A.D. 36.  But since according to the OT the high priest was not to be replaced till after his death, the transfer of power was illegal.  Doubtless some continued to call either man “high priest.”  Certainly Annas, Caiaphas’ father-in-law (Jn 18:13), continued to exercise great authority behind the scenes.  This joint high priesthood is presupposed by Lk 3:2 and probably by John 18, where the most natural reading of the passage names Caiaphas as high priest in v. 13 but Annas as high priest in v. 19 (cf. v.24).  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 524)
  • (v. 3) Between 37 BC and AD 67, when the last was appointed before the destruction of the Temple, there were no fewer than twenty-eight high priests. The suggestive thing is that Caiaphas was high priest from ad 18-36.  This was an extraordinarily long time for a high priest to last, and Caiaphas must have brought the technique of co-operating with the Romans to a fine art.  And therein precisely lay his problem.  (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible Volume Two, 382)
  • (v. 3) The envy of the leaders had been aroused by Christ’s miracles, climaxed by the raising of Lazarus from the dead, causing many people to believe in Jesus (Jn 11:45-53). The wrath of these same religious authorities had been further uncorked by the triumphal entry’s effect upon the crowds (Mt 21:1-11), the cleansing of the temple (21:12, 13, 23), parables which they knew were meant for them (21:45), and the discourse by means of which “the seven woes” were pronounced against the scribes and Pharisees (ch. 23).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 896)
  • (v. 5) The temple aristocracy is pitted against the incarnate Creator. Let’s see whose Passover plot prevails.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 763)
  • (v. 5) The clash between God’s counsel and man’s collusion is indicated in 26:3-5; 27:1, 35, 50, 62. These passages clearly show that while the Jewish authorities insisted that the arrest, trial and death of Jesus must not take place during the Festival, the divine decree that it would indeed happen at that particular time triumphed.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 896)
  • (v. 5) All Jewish males over the age of twelve were required to go to Jerusalem for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Dt 16:5-6), although Jews in faraway lands could celebrate there if they faced in the direction of Jerusalem. During this holiday, Jerusalem, a town of about 50,000, would swell to 250,000 people.  Thus, the leaders realized that to arrest Jesus during the Feast of days could cause this huge crowd to riot on his behalf.  They feared that such an uprising might bring the wrath of Rome.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 503)
  • (v. 5) It was God the Father, who from all eternity sovereignly decreed that at a particular point in time He would make good use of the evil desires of men to bring about His plan of redemption. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 745)
  • (v. 6) Bethany was located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives (Jerusalem is on the western side). This town was the home of Jesus’ friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  Jesus had been returning to Bethany from Jerusalem each night during this final week, probably staying with these dear friends (21:17).  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 504)
  • (v. 6) At verse 6 Matthew begins to tell a new story. To do so he must go back a few days, to the preceding Saturday evening, when a supper was given at Bethany in honor of Jesus.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 898)
  • (v. 6) The idea readily suggests itself that the supper (or “dinner” if one prefers) was prompted by love for the Lord, specifically by gratitude for the raising of Lazarus and for the healing of Simon, the man who had been a leper, is still called “Simon the leper,” but had presumably been healed by Jesus. It was at the home of this Simon that the dinner was given.  From Jn 12:2 we learn that Martha, the sister of Mary and of Lazarus, was serving, while Lazarus was one of those reclining with Jesus.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 898)
  • (v. 7) All four gospels record an account of a woman anointing Jesus. It seems that Mk 14:1-9 and Jn 12:1-11 are slightly different versions of the event Matthew records here, while the anointing described in Lk 7:36-50 is an altogether different incident that took place earlier in Jesus’ public ministry.  (G. Jerome Albrecht, The People’s Bible–Matthew, 374)
  • (v. 7) An alabaster jar was a beautiful and expensive vase with a long, slender neck. It was carved from translucent gypsum.  The perfume inside the jar is described as “pure nard” (Mk 14:3), a fragrant ointment imported from the mountains of India.  This was pure and genuine ointment, thus very costly.  The perfume may have been a family heirloom.  The beautiful jar was broken (Mk 14:3), and the costly ointment was poured on Jesus’ head.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 504)
  • (v. 8) Where Matthew says the disciples, John specifically mentions Judas (Jn 12:4-5). Judas’ indignation over Mary’s act of worship would not have been based on concern for the poor, but on greed.  Because Judas was the treasurer of Jesus’ ministry and had embezzled funds (Jn 12:6), he no doubt wanted the perfume sold so that the proceeds could be put into his care.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 505)
  • (v. 10) The Greek word that is translated “beautiful” means that what Mary had done was both aesthetically pleasing and ethically praiseworthy. (G. Jerome Albrecht, The People’s Bible–Matthew, 376)
  • (v. 13) Broadus remarks: “This very remarkable promise…was already in process of fulfillment when John wrote his Gospel, probably sixty years afterwards; for he distinguishes this Bethany from the one beyond Jordan (Jn 1:28) by calling it (Jn 11:1f.) the village of Mary (placed first) and Martha; and then makes all definite and clear by adding, ‘It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment’, etc.  He has not yet in his Gospel told the story of the anointing, but he assumes that it is familiar to all Christian readers.  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 527)
  • (v. 16) They may have planned to arrest Jesus after the Feast when the vast crowds were gone. Perhaps Judas’ unexpected offer (26:14-16) caused them to move sooner than they had planned, but, as this passage implies, all was proceeding according to God’s timetable.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 503)
  • (v. 16) Without their knowledge and against their will, God actually used their wicked deeds to carry out his plan of redemption. (G. Jerome Albrecht, The People’s Bible–Matthew, 372)


The question to be answered is . . . What does Matthew hope to communicate by these sixteen verses of His Gospel?


Answer:  That Jesus is the Christ, the anointed Prophet, Priest and King.   Knowing Jesus is worth forfeiting everything in your life.


The Word for the Day is . . . value


Invaluable = Having value too great to be estimated.


Things only have the value that we give them.  — Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Moliere


What is Matthew telling us in the first 16 verses of chapter 26?:

I-  Jesus is THE Christ:  Prophet, Priest and King.  (Mt 26:1-2, 12-13; see also: (Ex 28:41; 29:7, 21, 29; 30:31-32; 40:13-15; Lv 4:3-5, 16; 6:22; 8:10-12, 30; 16:32; 21:10; Nm 3:3; Jdg 9:8-15; 1 Sm 9:16; 10:1; 15:1, 17; 16:3-13; 24:6-10; 26:9-23; 2 Sm 1:16; 2:4-7; 5:3-17; 12:7; 19:21; 1 Kgs 1:34-45; 2 Kgs 9:3-12; 11:12; 23:30; 1 Chr 11:3; 6:42; 2 Chr 23:11; Ps 2:2; 18:50; 20:6; 23:5; 45:7; 84:9; 105:15; Isa 61:1; Dn 9:24-26; Lk 4:18; Jn 14:6;  Acts 4:26-27; 10:38)


For perfumed oil as a cosmetic especially in contexts of celebration see Pss 23:5; 45:7-8; 104:15; Isa 61:3; Am 6:6.  Lk 7:46 indicates that oil for the head was an expected part of hospitality at a meal.  But the most prominent use of oil in the OT, especially when poured over the head, was for the anointing of kings and priests to mark them out for their divinely approved office, and the woman’s act may have included a “messianic” connotation; at least the reader is likely to understand it so.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament–The Gospel of Matthew, 974)


With the oil on his body, she unwittingly signifies his impending death, and perhaps with the oil going on his head (Matthew’s emphasis) she unwittingly anoints him as King (cf. 1 Sm 9:16).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 769)


The anointing was for a coronation.  The crown was a crown of thorns, and the throne was a cross; but they were royal in very truth.  He came to his kingdom because, in God’s universe, the love of the just for the unjust is the kingly sign.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VII, 570)


This fourth prediction associates the death of Jesus with the Passover by identifying Him with the Paschal Lamb.  The son of Man is now seen as a sacrifice (1 Cor 5:7; 2 Cor 5:20-21; Mk 15:25, 42; Jn 19:36).  (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 287)


II-  The Sanhedrin and Judas liquidated Jesus; seeing Him as a liability rather than an asset.  (Mt 26:3-5, 14-16; see also: Zec 11:12-13; Mk 14:1, 10-11; Lk 22:1-6; Jn 11:45-53, 57; 12:4-6)


They were determined to silence him.  For not only did they refuse to believe in him, they did not want anyone else to believe in him either.  They would rather cast themselves into eternal damnation than admit that they had been wrong.  For everyone knew that Jesus had denounced their hypocrisy in no uncertain terms (see Matthew 23).  (G. Jerome Albrecht, The People’s Bible–Matthew, 372-373)


The tragedy of Judas is that he refused to accept Jesus as he was and tried to make him what he wanted him to be.  It is not Jesus who can be changed by us, but we who must be changed by Jesus.  We can never use him for our purposes; we must submit to be used for his.  The tragedy of Judas is that of a man who thought he knew better than God.  (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible Volume Two, 388)


Caiaphas wanted to destroy Jesus because he feared that He posed a serious threat to his position and power over the Jewish people.  Driven purely by greed and selfish, jealous ambition, he had no sense of justice, righteousness, or propriety.  He had no regard for his country, his people, or his religion, except as those could be used to personal advantage.  His basic operating principle was expediency, epitomized for all time in his infamous declaration:  “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish” (Jn 11:50).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 24-28, 132)


These leaders had already decided that Jesus must die (see Jn 11:47-53); they just needed the opportunity to kill him.  Matthew placed this explanation here, immediately after Jesus’ words of knowledge regarding upcoming events, to emphasize that though the leaders might plot and connive, all events would occur according to God’s sovereign plan.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 502)


If they had evidence that Jesus was guilty of some crime and was really worthy of death, they would have considered the charge at a regular public meeting of the full Sanhedrin.  But they held a private meeting in the palace of the high priest because they needed to do some brainstorming to see if they could come up with an excuse to arrest Jesus and kill him.  And even though they had been plotting the whole thing ahead of time, they were still searching for false witnesses to testify against Jesus after the trial had begun (see Mt 26:59).  (G. Jerome Albrecht, The People’s Bible–Matthew, 373)


Here, just when they were in a quandary, thinking perhaps that the crowds of Jewish Passover pilgrims were rather solidly on the side of Jesus, this man–one of the twelve closest companions of him whom they considered their enemy–volunteers his services!  The chief priests must have considered this an answer to their prayers.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 902)


The thirty pieces of silver were the shekels of the sanctuary, money that was supposed to have been used for the purchase of sacrifices.  The amount was the price paid when an ox gored someone else’s servant (Ex 21:32); it was the market value of a slave.  This was the Sanhedrin’s contemptuous evaluation of the worth of One who had healed their sick, their blind, their lame, their demon-possessed; who had raised their dead and fed their multitudes.  Judas must have considered it a poor enough reward for his crime.  But now he was their tool.  They had bought him as well as the Lord.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels–Matthew, 490)


Novels multiply about Judas, assuming to know the man.  But apparently the Gospels do not know, and we do not know.

One explanation, that of Luke, is true beyond a doubt:  Satan entered into him (Lk 22:3).  There are volcanic fires in human nature.  They have their sudden and unpredictable eruptions, and then a fair countryside is blackened and laid waste.  There was greed in Judas, and jealousy, and proud ambition–a demonic spirit.  No man can be indifferent to Christ.  At long last we love him with however blundering a love, or–we betray him.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VII, 571-2)


Incensed by the waste of a year’s wages, Judas went and sold Jesus for barely a third that amount.  (John R.W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 57)


For a price of a slave, gored by an ox, the Savior was sold to his enemies.  See Ex 21:32.  For such a pitiful sum Judas betrayed the Master!  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 903)


He was selling himself as well as Jesus.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels–Matthew, 490)


We act improperly, when we form our opinion without paying regard to the word of God; for, as Paul informs us, None of us liveth or dieth to himself, but all must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, where we must give our account, (Rom 14:7, 10; 2 Cor 5:10).  And though there was a wide difference between Judas and the others–because he wickedly held out a plausible cloak for his theft, while the rest were actuated by foolish simplicity–still we see how their imprudence withdrew them from Christ, and made them the companions of Judas.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVII, 188)


The word that is rendered waste in the English tongue may be rendered perdition.  At the last Christ said, concerning this same opposing and querulous Judas Iscariot, “I have lost none but the son of waste, the son of perdition.  He accused the poor woman of having done a perditional act.  A man can only speak on the level of his own nature:  I have lost him:  it was not the ointment that was wasted, but himself that was waste.”  (Joseph Parker, Christ’s Finished Work, Studies in Matthew 16-28, 161-2)


It is particularly worthy of notice, that the cause and source of so great blindness in Judas was avarice, which makes it evident that it is justly denominated by Paul the root of all evils, (1 Tm 6:10).  To inquire here whether or not Satan entered into Judas bodily is an idle speculation.  We ought rather to consider how fearfully monstrous it is, that men formed after the image of God, and appointed to be temples for the Holy Spirit, should not only be turned into filthy stables or sinks, but should become the wretched abodes of Satan.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVII, 193-4)


Think of it, Judas speaks up for the poor!  But note that he condemns not only Mary but Jesus himself.  Judas implies that Jesus is robbing the poor; that he is lavishing upon himself what rightfully belongs to charity; that for his own glorification he allows a waste that is utterly wrong; that his example is harmful to others; and that Judas is the man who knows what is right, proper, charitable, and is not afraid to mention it!  (R.C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, 1008)


Wicked as he (Caiaphas) was, he alone could enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and offer the sacrifice.  He supervised all the priestly functions in the Temple and profited from the merchandising there that had so incensed Jesus that He twice drove out the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals (Jn 2:14-16; Mt 21:12-13).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 24-28, 132)


That Jesus is lightly esteemed is reflected not only in his betrayal but in the low sum agreed on by Judas and the chief priests.  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 528)


The plan to put Jesus to death did not originate at this meeting.  That purpose was of long standing (12:14; 21:38; cf. Jn 5:18, 7:1, 19, 25; 8:37, 40; 11:53).  What is now decided is how to carry out this plan.  The leaders agree on a scheme to take Jesus by surprise, by trickery.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 896)


III-  The Disciples saw Jesus as worth following but not worth forfeiting everything.  (Mt 26:6-9; see also: Ps ch 41; Mk 14:3-5; Jn 13:18)


Greed opens the door for Satan to enter our hearts.  (G. Jerome Albrecht, The People’s Bible–Matthew, 378)


The words of the apostle Paul should often ring in our ears:  “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tm 6:10).  The history of the church abounds in illustrations of this truth.  For money Joseph was sold by his brothers; for money Samson was betrayed to the Philistines; for money Gehazi deceived Naaman and lied to Elisha; for money Ananais and Sapphira tried to deceive Peter; for money the son of God was delivered into the hands of wicked men.  It does indeed seem incredible that the cause of so much evil should be loved so much.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 253)


If you love it enough you will find a way.  If not you’ll find an excuse.


Many today say that they cannot have faith in Christ because it is not “reasonable”.  But what do they mean by reasonable?  Do they mean that faith in Christ is inherently irrational and therefore does not make logical sense?  Or do they mean that in their value system, faith in Christ isn’t worth the risk?

You see it is impossible to have reason without a value system by which to judge your reasons for thinking.  Hitler thought and acted completely within reason when he killed 6 million in the gas chambers during WWII.   He earnestly believed that Jews and resisters were less than human and so in his mind killing them was the only reasonable thing to do.  Reason is based on a value system.  It is one’s value system that determines the reasonableness of one’s actions.  But if we do not share the same value system, then it is impossible for us to determine the actions of another with a different value system, to be reasonable.

So again, I come back to those who say faith in Christ is unreasonable.  Of course it is.  They are working with a different value system.  They are going to think that a person of faith is unreasonable, just as a person from FL thinks it is unreasonable for a person from Michigan to root for U of M and a person from Michigan thinks it is unreasonable for a person from FL to root for FL State.   It is the value system that sets the standard for reasonableness.  No wonder Jesus said, I am the way , the truth and the life.  No one can come to the father except through Christ.  Why?  Because HE (Christ) IS the value system.  If we don’t accept that, then we will be totally unreasonable in our behaviors and judgments.  We have adopted the wrong value system.                                                                                      — Pastor Keith Porter


The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:  “Men.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”


IV-  Mary saw Jesus as worthy of forfeiting everything in order to invest(Mt 26:6-7; see also: Mt 6:21-24; 10:37-38; 13:44-46; Mk 14:3-9; Lk 7:36-48; 14:26; Jn 12:3-8)


On this occasion, the voice of common sense said:  ‘What waste!’ and no doubt it was right.  But there is a world of difference between the economics of common sense and the economics of love.  Common sense obeys the dictates of prudence; but love obeys the dictates of the heart.  There is in life a large place for common sense; but there are times when only love’s extravagance can meet love’s demands.  A gift is never really a gift when we can easily afford it; a gift truly becomes a gift only when there is sacrifice behind it, and when we give far more than we can afford.  (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible Volume Two, 385-386)


Love never calculates; love never thinks how little it can decently give; love’s one desire is to give to the uttermost limits; and, when it has given all it has to give, it still thinks the gift too little.  We have not even begun to be Christian if we think of giving to Christ and to his Church in terms of as little as we respectably can.  (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible Volume Two, 385)


Love’s impulses appear absurd to selfishness.  How could Judas understand Mary?  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew Chaps. IX to XVII, 222)


I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of God.  If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time or eternity.— David Livingstone.


How did Mary come to understand this when the others, particularly the disciples, failed to do so?  By being often in the place where we find her now–at Jesus’ feet, wiping his feet with her hair.  This is where we find her in Luke 10, when Jesus came to visit.  Martha was busy with preparations for the meal, but Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (v. 39).  This is where we find her in John 11, when Jesus returned following the death of Lazarus.  When Mary came to Jesus “she fell at his feet,” saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (Jn 11:32).  Every time we see Mary she is at Jesus’ feet, worshiping him and learning from him.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 552-3)


Sacrifice:  In its essence, it is the exuberant passionate love-gift of the best I have to the one I love best.  — Oswald Chambers


We do not find Mary at the cross.  We find some of the other NT Marys there, but not Mary of Bethany, for she had already anticipated Calvary.  We do not find her at the tomb either, for she had already made her contribution to the Lord’s burial.  Moreover she had no need to go to the tomb, for having grasped the truth of the Lord’s death and burial, Mary went on to believe that He would rise again.  It seems that at this point she alone, of all His followers, grasped the truth of the Lord’s resurrection.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels–Matthew, 488-9)


But love is always prodigal.  Love never counts the cost.  Love is always eager to give, and give unstintingly.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels–Matthew, 488)


Mary’s gift to Jesus was worth a year’s wages.  Perfume such as this was used in burial rites because embalming was not the Jewish custom.  Perfume covered the odor of the dead body.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 505)


People are always eager to pick holes in conduct which they uneasily feel to be above their own reach.  Poor Mary!  She had but yielded to the uncalculating impulse of her great love, and she finds herself charged with imprudence, waste, and unfeeling neglect of the poor.  No wonder that her gentle heart was ‘troubled.’  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew Chaps. IX to XVII, 222)


The reason physical sacrifice often results in spiritual renewal goes back to a principle Jesus taught in the gospel of Matthew.  As your treasure goes, so goes your heart.  Jesus said it this way:  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21).

Your heart and your treasure are linked.  If you want to know what you are really committed to, look at your checkbook and credit card statements.  There is your heart, plain and simple.  There is no clearer reflection of your priorities and values.  The way you handle your money is an indicator of where your heart is.  (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, 138)

Commitment is never an act of moderation!  — Kenneth G. Mills


The measure of our love is the measure of our sacrifice.


Jesus’ words should have taught Judas and the disciples the valuable lesson that devotion to Christ is worth more than money.  Unfortunately, Judas did not take heed; soon he would sell his Master’s life for thirty pieces of silver.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 506)


Christ does not simply defend the anointing, so that we may imitate it, but assures us that it pleases God on some particular account.  This must be carefully weighed, that we may not fall into the error of contriving expensive modes of worshiping God, as the Papists do; for, hearing it said that Christ was pleased with being anointed by Mary, they supposed that he took delight in incense, wax-tapers, splendid decorations, and pompous exhibitions of that nature.  Hence arises the great display which is to be found in their ceremonies; and they do not believe that they will worship God in a proper manner, if they are not immoderate in expense.  But Christ plainly makes this exception, that what he wished to be done once would not be agreeable to him in future.  For by saying that the poor will always be in the world, he distinguishes between the ordinary service, which ought to be maintained among believers, and that extraordinary service, which ceased after his ascension to heaven.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVII, 190)


I do not know whether this woman had done all the math, but for her, nothing was too good for Jesus.  By her act of devotion and sacrifice, she shamed the disciples.  They should have praised her, saying, “What a magnificent thing you have done for our Messiah.”  Instead, they were indignant.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 741)


The disciples thought the ointment wasted, which was poured upon his head.  “But,” saith he, “if so much ointment were poured upon a dead body, according to the custom of your country, you would not grudge it, or think it waste.  Now this is, in effect, so; the body she anoints is as good as dead, and her kindness is very seasonable for that purpose; therefore rather than call it waste, put it upon that score.”  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 386)


V-  The real value of serving the poor is tied up in worshiping Jesus.  (Mt 26:11; see also: Dt 15:11;  Prv 14:21, 31; 19:17; Isa ch 53; 58:5-7; 63:9; Mt 10:40-42; 18:5; 22:34-40; 25:40 & 45; Mk 13:13; Lk 4:16-21; Jn 13:20; 15:18-21; 17:23-26; Acts 9:4-5; 22:7; 26:14-15;  Rom 8:17; 15:3; 1 Cor 12:27; 2 Cor 1:5; 5:21; Gal 2:20; 6:17; Col 1:24; 1 Jn 4:7-21)


All human things are trivial if they exist for nothing beyond themselves.”   The real value of anything depends on its aim.   If we eat simply for the sake of eating, we become gluttons, and it is likely to do us far more harm than good; if we eat to sustain life, to do our work better, to maintain the fitness of our body at its highest peak, food has a real significance.  If a man spend a great deal of time on sport simply for the sake of sport, he is at least to some extent wasting his time.  But if he spends that time in order to keep his body fit and thereby to do his work for God and men better, sport ceases to be trivial and becomes important.  The things of the flesh all gain their value from the spirit in which they are done.”  (William Barclay; Commentary on John Vol. 1, 227)


On that great day no honor done to Christ on earth will be found to have been forgotten.  The speeches of parliamentary orators, the exploits of warriors, the works of poets and painters, will not be mentioned on that day; but the least work that the weakest Christian woman has done for Christ, or his members, will be found written in a book of everlasting remembrance.  Not a single kind word or deed, not a cup of cold water, or a jar of perfume, will be omitted from the record.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 251)


Passover was the time of special giving to the poor (see Jn 13:27:29), and the sale of this ointment would certainly have provided a generous amount to give.  The disciples felt moral outrage at the loss of resources for the poor.  But Jesus wanted them to understand that even concern for the poor must never be elevated over devotion to him.  Jesus also knew what was in Judas’ heart.  Judas wasn’t interested in helping the poor; he was interested in getting his hands on the money (Jn 12:6).  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 505)


In saying, you always have the poor with you, Jesus was not saying that we should neglect the poor, nor was he justifying indifference to them.  Jesus was affirming Mary’s unselfish act of worship and highlighting the special sacrifice that Mary had made for him.  The essence of worshiping Christ is to regard him with utmost love, respect, and devotion, as well as to be willing to sacrifice to him what is most precious.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 506)


You see, the disciples’ “poor theology,” if you will, is poor (bad or wrong) because they have put our vertical relationship with Jesus as Lord on the same level as our horizontal relationship with others.  Their mistake is natural, especially in view of Jesus’ parable about loving the least being equal to loving him.  But it’s still a mistake.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 767)


How can he call (Jesus) on one rich man to sell all he has in favor of the poor (19:21) and yet allow this woman to waste a year’s wages on a personal cosmetic?  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament–The Gospel of Matthew, 973)


He was not saying that we are free to ignore the poor.  He was giving His disciples a realistic picture of ministry.  We are not going to get rid of poverty.  We are not going to get rid of pain.  We are not going to get rid of suffering.  But we are to minister in the middle of it.  Thus, selling one alabaster flask of perfume would not have solved the problem of poverty.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 742)


He knew the monetary value of the ointment, and any man who is overly concerned with the monetary value of anything that takes place in the church is a bad man.  There is no monetary value to the higher life:  you jumble unrelated languages.  The very question is a condemnation:  it was not the question of an economist, it was the inquiry of a thief.  Do not believe in schedules and tables and comparative statistics in the church.  Any man who gets up tables of comparative statistics in the church is either a bad man or a mistaken one:  he is always a hinderer of true progress.  There should be no comparative statistics in the church. What have we to do whether the pews are full or empty, or the treasury exhausted or overflowing?  Nothing.  We have to preach the word, declare the testimony, read the writing, decipher the inscription on the cross and on the sky, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear, and as to comparing this year with ten years ago, let those do so who live in dust, but not those who are here for a night and will be gone tomorrow like the morning dew.  Men like Judas Iscariot cannot do anything in the church, but debase and injure it.  (Joseph Parker, Christ’s Finished Work, Studies in Matthew 16-28, 158)


If we are just feeding the poor to insure that they are not hungry, that lacks real value.  But, if we feed the poor because we worship Christ and want to honor Christ, then it has infinite and eternal value.  — Pastor Keith


Worship Point:  You will never really worship in Spirit and in Truth until you know the value of Jesus and what He has done for you.


If you don’t see the absolute holiness of God, the magnitude of your debt, the categorical necessity of God’s just punishment of your sin, and therefore the utter hopelessness of your condition, then the knowledge of your pardon and deliverance will not be amazing and electrifying!  — Tim Keller


Worship is an outward expression of what we value most.  (Ligon Duncan; 5 Keys to Spiritual Growth)


The worshiper emulated by Mary does not ask, “How much is it going to cost?” or, “Do I have the time?”  Like her, the true worshiper gives Jesus whatever he has, knowing it is trifling compared to what has been received from Him.  Genuine worship is the supreme service a Christian can offer to Christ.  There is a time for ministering to the poor, the sick, the naked, and the imprisoned.  There is a time for witnessing to the lost and seeking to lead them to the Savior.  There is a time for discipling new believers and helping them grow in the faith.  There is a time for careful study and teaching of God’s Word.  But above all else that the Lord requires of His people is their true worship, without which everything else  they may do in His name is empty and powerless.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 24-28, 135)


If the Church’s worship is faithful, it will eventually be subversive of the culture surrounding it, for God’s truth transforms the lives of those nurtured by it.  Worship will turn our values, habits and ideas upside-down as it forms our character; only then will be genuinely right-side up eternally.   Only then will we know a Joy worthy of our destiny.  (Marva Dawn; Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, 57-8)


Until you can confidently state your values, every philosophy, every behavior and every desire known to humankind is a potential substitute.  Your values become the filter through which you determine right from wrong, value from worthlessness and importance from insignificance.  If you do not specifically identify your values, they will be defined for you by the whims and influences of the world. (George Barna; Turning Vision, 91)


You add value to God when you value Him —Pastor Keith (with help from John C. Maxwell)


Gospel Application:  Your forfeiting means nothing unless you are doing it out of love and gratitude for what Jesus has done for you (1 Cor 13).  Keep seeking to know Jesus and His grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience and love for you more and more each day.


He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.  — Jim Elliott


No one will listen to radical grace unless they know they are radical sinners.  (Steve Brown message, The Sure Things of Life)


Christians, like everyone else in today’s economy, are consumers, but they dare not apply consumer values to God.  Notice the implications of the phrase “church shopping.”  Surely, shopping for a church in the same way we shop for a major appliance is dangerous.  Instead of looking for a church that teaches the Word of God, we sometimes look for a church that “fills our needs.”   The church does not exist to provide members “services”; rather, it should challenge its members to engage in “service” to God and to their fellow human beings.   When we think like consumers, we put ourselves first, picking and choosing what best corresponds to our desires.   Christianity is a matter of truth, of submission to a Holy, righteous God whose authority over us is absolute and who in no way is subject to our consumer preferences.  Christianity must not be tainted with consumerism.     (Gene Veith; Postmodern Times, 119)


To understand the cross, we must feel the weight of this question.  This is the problem with which Scripture is ultimately concerned, and it is the ultimate question in the whole universe:  How can sinful man be righteous before God?  Prv 17:15 helps us feel this tension:  “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the just–both are detestable to the LORD.”  When earthly judges pronounce the wicked to be innocent or the righteous to be condemned, it is an abomination.  How much more is this true with God?  As soon as God tells rebellious sinners that they are right before Him, God becomes an abomination to Himself.  So how do sinners not receive a guilty verdict?  It’s revealing that God’s pardoning of the guilty is not the problem we normally identify.  Not many people in our culture are losing sleep over how God can be just and kind to sinners at the same time.  Instead, we are so warped in our thinking that we point the finger at God and say, “How can you punish sinners?  How can you let people go to hell?”  But the question of the Bible is just the opposite:  “God, how can you be just and right and let rebels into heaven?”  If we are to grasp the wonder of the gospel, we must see that God’s forgiveness of our sin is a threat to His character.  John Stott even went so far as to say, “Forgiveness is for God the profoundest of problems” (Stott, The Cross of Christ, 110).  Stott goes on to quote Bishop Westcott:  “Nothing superficially seems simpler than forgiveness,” whereas “nothing if we look deeply is more mysterious or more difficult” (Stott, 110).  Rom 3:25 addresses this dilemma, where Paul says that the purpose of Christ’s death was “to demonstrate [God’s] righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.”  Passing over sins is what God did continually prior to Christ’s coming.  Consider for example, the prophet Nathan’s confrontation of David following the king’s adultery, lying, and murder.  David confessed, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Sm 12:13), to which Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin; you will not die.”  Did you catch that–adultery, lying, and murder passed over by God!  We would immediately remove any earthly judge from the bench for that kind of decision.  So how is that justice?  The seeming tension in God’s character helps bring Christ’s death into proper perspective.  Before the cross is for anyone else’s sake, the cross is for God’s sake.  Ultimately, Christ did not die for you or me, or even for the nations; those answers are incomplete.  Ultimately, Christ died for God.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition–Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 343-4)


Spiritual Challenge:  Seek Jesus.  Know Jesus.  Look to Jesus.  Value Jesus.  Worship Jesus.  Find life in Jesus.


In order for a society or a culture to become greater or to transcend its current status it must be guided or informed by a world-view that is greater or transcends its current world-view of operational paradigms.  Otherwise it will be perpetually stuck in its own limited perspective on how life should be lived and the guiding values that dictate that life.  — Pastor Keith


The worth and value of our soul is measured by what we love.  If we love corrupt and wicked things we become corrupt and wicked.  But the person who loves God spiritually grows and matures until he becomes like the One he loves.  What a person loves is constantly on his mind.  And what we think about has a power to transform our soul.  We become like what we behold.  (Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 39)


A friend of mine is a missionary to Muslims in Senegal.  He tells me that after conversion, Muslims will often notice flowers for the first time.  Prior to salvation, Muslims in that arid country live a very utilitarian existence.  Things are valued only for what they can do.  Their houses are dull and drab; trees are only appreciated it they are fruit trees; if they have a function.  It is as if the Muslims have lived without beauty for their whole lives and now, having their souls released from bondage, they are freed into the pleasures of God’s creative heart.  I’m struck by the parallels to modern fundamentalism.  Their hatred of pleasure is not a sign of their godliness; quite the opposite.  The redeemed heart hungers for beauty.  (Curtis and Eldredge; The Sacred Romance, 200)


The biggest problem with making your value system the ultimate value system and the only value system is that you will see yourself as the only one who is right all the time and everyone else is wrong.   — Pastor Keith


MacDonald had it right:  “Gloriously wasteful, O my Lord, art thou!”  (John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire, 149)


We may be laughed at and ridiculed by the world.  Our motives may be misunderstood; our conduct  may be misrepresented; our sacrifices for Christ’s sake may be called “waste”–waste of time, waste of money, waste of strength.  Let none of these things move us.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 251)


So What?:  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6).  Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him to be all of these in your life.  (Dt 4:29; Prv 2; Jer 29:13; Mt 7:7)


A culture obsessed with technology will come to value personal convenience above almost all else, and ours does . . . religion tends to be strongest when life is hard . . . a person whose main difficulty is not crop failure but video breakdown has less need of the consolations and promises of religion.   (Robert Bork; Slouching Towards Gomorrah, 9)


“That we put values, principles and ideals above our very being is what places us above animals.”  — Dr. Laura Schlessinger


Decision making is easy if there are no contradictions in your value system.  (Robert H. Schuller, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do, 148)


Judas Iscariot made a reputable profession of religion:  there was nothing but what was right and proper and becoming in his outward conduct.  Like the other apostles, he appeared to believe and to give up all for Christ’s sake:  like them, he was sent out to preach and work miracles.  No one of the eleven seems to have suspected him of hypocrisy.  When our Lord said, “One of you will betray me,” no one said, “Is it Judas?”  Yet all this time his heart was never changed.

We ought to observe these things:  they are deeply humbling and instructive.  Like Lot’s wife, Judas is intended to be a beacon to the whole church.  Let us often think about him, and say, as we think, “Search me, O God, and know my heart;. . . See if there is any offensive way in me” (Ps 139:23-24).  Let us resolve, by God’s grace, that we will never be content with anything short of sound and thorough heart conversion.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 252-3)


Values are what make us who we are.  —General Norman Schwarzkopf



Quotes to Note:

Christ now confirms again what we have seen that he had sometimes predicted to his disciples; but this last prediction clearly shows how willingly he offered himself to die; and it was necessary that he should do so, because God could not be appeased but by a sacrifice of obedience.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVII, 185)


Let us therefore learn to pay no deference to the opinions of men farther than that they may be edified by our example in obedience to God, and when the world rises against us with a loud noise, let us satisfy ourselves with this consolation, that what is reckoned bad on earth is pronounced to be good in heaven.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVII, 189-90)


It is not only the precise prediction, indicated by the prophetic present tense (“is handed over”) that arrests our attention, but also the implied determination on the part of the Son of man–that the counsel of God shall stand (Isa 53:10; Lk 22:22; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28), and that he himself shall, in accordance with that counsel, actually “lay down” his life (Jn 10:11, 15).  Apart from this voluntary sacrifice salvation for sinners would be impossible.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 895)






Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply