Please read Matthew 27:1-10
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: How do you feel about Judas? How did the chief priests and elders feel about Judas? How did Judas feel about himself? How did Jesus feel about Judas?
Possible answers: The gamut of human feelings is found in the story of Judas. We know his act of betrayal was despicable. We despise what he did. The destructive power of sin that we witness in his life ought to really cause us to put on the brakes in our own life and take a look at where we too are knowingly or unknowingly allowing sin a foothold. The religious leaders had no feeling for the well being of Judas’ soul. They didn’t care if he went to hell. Not recognizing their own need for the Christ and the forgiveness that He would provide, they were not capable of providing healing and compassion for a troubled sinner. What a grievous ungodly attitude! (Makes us rethink our attitude and actions toward those who are still unchristian or who are straying Christians doesn’t it?! Judas recognized the depth of his sin; but, he did not see the heights of God’s pardoning love. At the same time that Christ was about to die for Judas’ sin, Judas kills himself in despair. He insulted God’s grace believing that he could sin more than God could forgive.
Prayer: LORD, help me to see the Judas within me and the chief priest and elders in my own thinking and behavior; but let there be one major difference – help me, when I see the depth of my sin to see Your forgiving grace which is far greater. Seeing that, let it make a difference in my attitude toward You and in my attitude and actions toward other sinners.
Please read Matthew 27:11-26
Background: Don’t forget! This man standing before Pilate is also God in addition to being an unimpeachable man! What astounding pride on the part of sinful men! What amazing humility on the part of the Godman!! Everyone knew in their hearts He was innocent.
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: Those Jews who wanted Christ’s blood to flow were willing to have it taken out on them if they were wrong. What would the payment be for their sin? Is it the business of Christians to hate the Jews and bring Christ’s blood on them in some way?
Possible answers: The blood of Jesus poured out by the Jews desire for His death and by Christ’s desire for their life – that blood made atonement also for their sins. He wanted His blood to cover them and their children for healing not for condemnation. He still loved them, provided salvation for them, and wanted them to repent and receive that salvation. This is the desire of all Christians, that all people of all races and no matter what their despicable past, might believe and be saved. The redemption of Christ will be shared by His followers.
Prayer: Thank You Jesus for Your precious blood which covers my wretched sin. In thanksgiving for what You have done, use me to share Your forgiving love with all others to Your glory.
Please read Matthew 27:27-31
Background: The ugly reality of the complete corruption of our human nature is on display in these verses. The beauty of the comprehensive grace of God is also seen in His astounding patient endurance of these things for us and for our salvation.
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: Would you permit someone to do this to you if you could stop it? Are you willing to endure shame and pain for the sake of others because of what Jesus has done for you? Are you willing to forgive those who wrong you and still live for them as if they were Christ Himself?
Possible answers: My former self would repeat the abuse to Christ and others. The true me, the new me, hates that former self and its loveless cruelty and its unforgiving spirit. By the Spirit of God more and more I want to imitate Christ’s selfless love to the unlovable and unworthy!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, please continue to enable me to grow stronger in my grasp of the infinite breadth of Your love for me. In that awareness may it become clear by the way I treat others that I appreciate how You have treated me!
Please read Matthew 27:32-44
Background: The wine that they offered to Jesus at this time almost certainly contained painkiller or perhaps even a sedative. Tasting that added substance, Jesus would not drink it down. He was going to be fully conscious of the pain, the shame and the forsakenness.
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: “He saved others, but he can’t save himself” was one of the taunts thrown at Jesus. Do you see the unintended truths in this remark? What is the problem with their additional taunt: “Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him”? How do these mockers glorify Christ without knowing or intending it?
Possible answers: They were admitting the truth – He had saved others! To provide the ultimate deliverance it was necessary that He not save Himself. If He saves Himself from death, we die! If He took their dare and came down from the cross, He would not be worth believing in. He would have obeyed men instead of God and thereby become a sinner like us. The mockers inadvertently brought glory to Jesus by admitting that He trusted in God.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for enduring the scorn of Your enemies as You hung upon the cross. I am ashamed of my sin for which Your love voluntarily paid the price; but I am proud of You, MY SAVIOR!
Please read Matthew 27:45-54
Background: “From the sixth hour to the ninth hour” according to their clock was from noon to three. The temple curtain separated the holy place from the most holy place, the presence of God. Only one time all year, on the Great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), was that curtain lifted for the high priest to enter with sacrifice for his own sins and for the sins of the people.
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: What was Jesus enduring as He was dying? How is this statement true: Jesus didn’t die from crucifixion, He was crucified when He died? Clarify this statement: our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. What was the LORD indicating when the temple curtain was torn in two from the top to the bottom?
Possible answers: Jesus was experiencing hell, separation from the love and mercy of God while receiving the fullness of God’s just and holy wrath over sin. Jesus let His life go while He was crucified, the cause of death was His loving perfect payment for our sins. Yet, those sins couldn’t nail Him to the cross, only His love would permit that to happen. With the temple curtain torn God was indicating that the Way to God’s presence in heaven was open to all sinners through Christ.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, because of my sin I deserved to be the object of God’s wrath; instead You permitted that wrath to be directed against You. Thank You for opening the way to life and for being that Way! Keep me on that path as I confess with the centurion that You surely are the Son of God, my Savior.
Please read Matthew 27:55-61
Background: Joseph of Arimathea, who claimed Jesus’ body for burial, was a member of the Jewish ruling council that had condemned Christ to crucifixion. He had not joined in the condemnation.
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: What astounding humility do you find in verse 55? When we remember the ultimate commitment of Christ to us, don’t we want to commit ourselves to Him too? Think of the impact Christ made on Zebedee’s family. What it is the statement Joseph was making by claiming Christ’s body for honorable burial?
Possible answers: Jesus is the LORD of heaven and earth, the Owner of all things; yet, during His humility He is dependent upon people to meet His needs so He can minister to theirs. What an honor for them! Zebedee, the man with the fishing business on the Sea of Galilee, saw his two sons (James and John) leave home and business to follow Jesus. Here we see his wife too was following Jesus and using the families’ wealth to support His work. Later their son, James would be martyred and John would live far away from them and experience persecution and exile. Joseph, as a disciple of Christ, was willing to sacrifice everything for the One who had just been sacrificed for him. A remarkable act of God’s Spirit working through him that he would identify with Jesus now when His lifeless form would seem to indicate that Jesus could no longer do anything for him!
Please read Matthew 27:62-66
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: In their words to Pilate, what do the chief priests and Pharisees reveal they knew and understood from Jesus’ words? How did their request for a guard at the tomb serve God’s purposes? What do you detect in Pilate’s charge: “make the tomb as secure as you can”?
Possible answers: The leaders show that they understood Jesus had claimed that He would rise again from the dead. (Isn’t it ironic that they, who didn’t believe it, understood His words perhaps more than the disciples, who didn’t grasp it either?!) They also are revealing that they understood that when He had talked about “destroy this temple” He was not talking about the physical building but about His body. The guards they requested and were granted prove to be amazing witnesses of the fact of His resurrection (even though subsequently they were bribed to lie about it)! Do Pilate’s words indicate an attitude that says “I won’t be surprised at anything that happens in the case of this Jesus”? Is he saying “I doubt that you can make it secure enough”?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, as we see the continuing plots against Your glory even after Your death, we know that those plots were doomed to failure. Help us to see that as we put You first and seek Your glory and Your kingdom, everything that opposes that will is also doomed to failure. We can and we will do Your work with Your blessing.
Please read Matthew 28:1-10
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: Why did the angel roll away the stone? What did the guards witness? Look at the emotions and responses of the women! Our entire life is found in the microcosm of their reactions at the tomb – what elements of it do you find?
Possible answers: The angel rolled away the stone NOT to let Jesus out; but to show that He had already left the grave behind! (That’s going to happen to us someday too!!) The guards saw the angel, we do not know if they saw the fact that the tomb was empty. The women go from fear - to faith - to joy - to worship - to witness! They have a sense of happy urgency that you and I need to covet and cultivate.
Prayer: Savior, Your resurrection means everything to me: forgiveness of sins, life, eternal salvation, heaven! That value is there for everyone else too. Give me a sense of urgency that leads to every possible action to get Your good news out to all people!
Please read Matthew 28:11-15
Background: In today’s reading you are going to see the continuation of despicable and desperate behavior on the part of Jesus’ enemies. Their behavior is absolutely tragic in every way.
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: Again, what should have been the response of the chief priests and elders to the witness from the soldiers? What did they do instead? What weight do the words have that Matthew wrote “to this very day”?
Possible answers: The report of the soldiers should have prompted an investigation not a cover up! That investigation would have shown the facts. The facts should have led to faith. Instead, they harden their hearts and continue in a well-traveled path of deceit. That path continues to this day, as lying denials of the Savior’s resurrection continue to be perpetuated (see for example the best-selling wickedness of The DaVinci Code!).
Prayer: Dear Risen Savior, may the truth of Your resurrection increasingly be heard throughout the world dispelling Satan’s desperate declarations of darkness!
Please read Matthew 28:16-20
Background: The doubting in verse 17 may not be doubting the reality of His resurrection but rather uncertainty about some aspect of this particular appearance.
Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: Verse 17 records the fact that some of the eleven “doubted”; how do these words serve a glorious purpose. These closing words of Matthew summarize our life as disciples of Jesus. What is that summary?
Possible answers: The fact that it is recorded that some of the eleven doubted supplies another ring of truth to this account. It is totally honest. The disciples should have known about the resurrection of Jesus and understood its meaning and importance; but this understanding came at different speeds to each of them. The resurrection is not a manufactured report to fit a preconceived idea; it is the honest report of actual events that they didn’t expect but experienced and then later grew to believe and understand. Jesus supplies the summary of our life: REMEMBER! our Jesus, the Godman has all power; we are His disciples, ambassadors who are supplied with a message which is the means through which He will create more disciples; we are to stick with the message He has given us; He will always be with us until finally we all are with Him forever! AMEN!!
Prayer: Dear Savior, thank You for blessing me with Your presence through Your Word every day. Give me the grace to continue my daily time with You and to encourage others to do the same. Then, use each of us together to fulfill Your will for Your people to be Your ambassadors carrying Your life-giving Good News to all the world!