Wednesday, April 8 – Holy Week

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Devotional Word for Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Today we’re going to read through Matt. 26:1-16. We’ll pause after some verses and offer comments, and then finish with a verse from Psalm 90. Let’s begin:

When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.

[Matt. 26:1-2]

In all the teaching Jesus did during Holy Week, one reality always hovers in the background of his mind. We see it in these two verses: His crucifixion. Notice how he links it to the Passover. That’s when the lambs are sacrificed for the sins of the people. He knows He is the Lamb of God. It is right and good for Him to be sacrificed – to be crucified – on Passover. But then the scene shifts:

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.

[Matt. 26:3-5]

We should note two things from this passage: 1) the implacable hatred of the leaders towards Jesus. They wanted Him dead. Think of the parable of the vineyard Jesus had spoken earlier in this week. 2) They plan NOT to kill Jesus until the Passover is over. Yet Jesus sees His coming death completely in terms of the Passover. We know which vision is correct and will prevail. That should remind us Who it is that rules over the affairs of men. His will shall be done!

The scene shifts back to Jesus and His disciples. They are at dinner in Bethany. That’s a village that’s on the Mount of Olives, only a short walk from where He gave the Olivet Discourse. An extraordinary event takes place. Here it is:

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.

[Matt. 26:6-13]

Let’s consider the mindsets demonstrated in this passage. First, the disciples’ indignation arise from petty cost-consciousness. In Mark’s account of this he says they “scolded the woman.” We might say they were penny-wise and dollar-foolish. They did not comprehend the preciousness of Jesus. Not the kind of preciousness represented by Precious Moments figurines, but the preciousness of the Pearl of Great Price. There is nothing more valuable than Jesus. We should think of ourselves and how easily we can major in minors.

Second, the woman has the correct mindset, she is given high praise from Jesus. She valued Him more than did anyone else in the room. She displayed that value by an extravagant act of personal devotion and worship. May we have her mindset!

Third, Jesus’ mindset is fixed: He’s the sacrificial Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. He is going to be crucified and die an agonizing death. Jesus understands this woman’s action to be a further affirmation from the Father of the course Jesus is on. It is good. It is most precious. 

There’s another scene shift; the most crucial one: 

Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.

[Matt. 26:14-16]

Here we see the sovereignty of God. He uses even the evil motives of wicked men to accomplish His purpose. Jesus will be crucified on Passover, despite the Jewish authorities’ decision to wait until after the Passover celebration. God’s will shall be done. Jesus is exactly who and what John the Baptist declared at the outset of His ministry: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. [John 1:29] That’s why the Son of God became a man. 

Now for that verse from Psalm 90. It’s the last verse, verse 17. I want to read it from the New King James translation: And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us. Isn’t that wonderful! I like the use of the word “beauty,” especially in light of what we’ve read today. The NASB and ESV and NIV all translate if “favor.” That’s fine. But today I want us to ask God to let His beauty be upon us so that we can see His beauty in the Passion of the Lord Jesus. If we see how precious, how valuable, how utterly wonderful Jesus’ crucifixion is, then the final part of v. 17 will be accomplished. It says: And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands. May we be like the nameless woman with the alabaster vial of perfume. May we worship the Lord Jesus and give Him our very best.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, we love You. Open our hearts and minds to see You more fully, to understand all of what You’ve done for us. We want to worship You, to give to You our deepest love. May we be extravagantly devoted to You. Show us Your ways and teach us Your paths. May Your beauty rest upon us, and so establish our lives that they may be beacons from which Your glory radiates forth. We ask all this that Your name may be praised in all the earth. Amen.