Writing another Daily Bible Study Guide, this one on the New Testament, has been all consuming. So instead of commenting on current events (another hurricane, can you believe it?), allow me to share a recent Bible Study from my "work in progress".
Read Matthew 26.
Chapter 26 begins “Now when Jesus had finished all these sayings”. It is a reference to the entire Olivet Discourse of the previous two chapters. It also marks an important transition in the narrative, from His prophetic teaching on the Mt. of Olives to the events of the Upper Room on the night of Passover.
Several things had to be done in order to prepare for the Passover celebration with His disciples in the Upper Room. The first part of chapter 26 records this preparation for the Passover, the middle records the Passover itself, while the last part of the chapter deals with the aftermath of the Passover—the agony in Gethsemane and His arrest.
We can identify 4 specific actions taken by various people, all of which push the narrative closer and closer to the cross.
FIRST, note what the Pharisees were doing: plotting. “Then the chief priest, scribes and elders assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him” (vs. 3-4).
SECOND, note what Mary was doing: worshiping. Matthew calls her the woman with an alabaster box, but John identifies her as Mary (Jn. 12:3). The anointing of Jesus’ feet with this costly perfume seemed like a waste to the disciples, but Jesus commends her act of worship and connects it to His burial.
THIRD, note what Judas was doing: betraying. Judas agrees to betray his Lord for thirty pieces of silver.
FOURTH, note what the Disciples are doing: preparing. Jesus sends them ahead to get things ready for the Passover. Mark 14:13-16 and Luke 22:8-13 give a more detailed account of how the disciples were to find a place for the Passover.
It was customary in Bible times for women to carry large vessels of water on their heads as they traveled through the streets. So when Jesus tells His two disciples to look for a man carrying a pitcher of water—that was surprisingly unique. The request to use the guest chamber (upper room) reminds us of His earlier request to use a donkey on Palm Sunday. In both cases, we are impressed by the absolute omniscience of the Savior. He knew the entire conversation before it took place!
The betrayal of Jesus by one of His own followers was prophesied in Psalm 41:9, “Even My own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate My bread, has lifted up his heel against Me”. Furthermore, it should be noted that according to Ex. 21:32, thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave.
Note the rebuke Jesus gave to His disciples when they complained about the “waste” of the woman’s expensive perfume: “Let her alone” (see Mark 14:6). There were two good reasons for this rebuke: (1) “the poor you will always have with you, but Me you will not always have” (vs. 11), and (2) she was anointing Jesus because “she did it for My burial” (vs. 12). Jesus’ death was His priority, not the eradication of poverty.
Jesus knew the Pharisees were plotting His death, and He knew Judas was arranging with them a betrayal to that end. He also knew all about the upper room that He would be allowed to use for the Passover meal. It is encouraging to me that nothing happens outside the sovereign plan of God, and that Jesus is aware of everything in my life (even before it happens). He did not try to stop these “behind the scenes” treacherous meetings for He knew what His mission was; He knew “from the foundation of the world” He was headed to the cross in order to provide redemption for mankind.