The Table of the King | Matthew 26:17-30
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 26:17–26:30
Good Morning! This week we are continuing the “Passion of the King” We are spending 10 weeks, looking to Jesus on the cross taking our defeat for us including Good Friday, His victorious resurrection on Easter, and the commission he gives his disciples to make disciples and live for him.
Verse 17-19 | Jesus In the Details
Matthew 26:17-19 | 17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
Things are happening very fast during this final week. Sunday was the triumphant entry and already we are at Passover Thursday. The disciples have had this shadow of Jesus saying he’s going to be crucified during or around Passover looming over them. They have avoided contact with enemies that seek to arrest and kill Jesus, and now the day is here and they haven’t made any formal arrangements. They are concerned like a guy who doesn’t have reservations for Valentine’s Day. Um Jesus, what’s the plan?
For those that were making the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem it was customary, if able, to eat the feast within the city limits. You would also share this meal with your extended family. In this case the disciples and Jesus were not traveling with their families, they had each other. They would be gathering as family because of their unity in following Jesus. Jesus has prepared a place for them they were not even aware of. Jesus kept the details of what he had prepared from them until the proper time. Some believe in part this was to keep Judas from knowing the plan. Jesus is going to go to the cross but it will be on His terms; not Judas’ whims. Regardless of the reason, Jesus is highly involved in preparing and directing details that have an impact on his people. We can easily be concerned about immediate details of what is going to happen next in our lives. We can be anxious when we don’t know, or don’t have direct control, over what the plan. We assume that God is paying attention to big things in the world or maybe major events in our lives, who we marry, health issue, etc. and we can forget that God is actively at work even in some of the smallest details in our lives specifically for the purposes of our joy. The devil isn’t in the details, Jesus is! Jesus has made the preparations, Jesus gives instruction, and the disciple follow them in obedience, in doing so they get to participate in preparing the table they’re going to get to take part in. This is a cool picture of Jesus’ work, our faithful response leading to being active participants in God’s plan.
Verse 20-25 | Tension at the Table
Matthew 26:20-25 | 20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I,Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
The table Jesus’ has prepared for this night is set; the sun is down and the ceremonial and significant meal has begun. We know Jesus has washed the feet of the disciples directly showing an example of servant leadership disciples of Jesus are follow. Now food is out, the wine is flowing, and then the announcement comes from the head of the table (seat of the host) “truly, I say to you” This is not a casual statement. “one of you will betray me.” You can almost hear the gasp in the room and the music stop. It is easy for all of them to see the hostility of those who are opposed to Jesus but they cannot easily believe the betrayal is going to come from among them. We know in fact the betrayal has already happened in Judas’ intentions and the deal he made, now it only needs to be executed. Each of them begins to display great sorrow.
Additionally, they individually and collectively have great doubt. They have doubts about themselves; about the sincerity of their faith and trust in Jesus. They doubt their ability to persevere, or walk perfectly. They may be concerned they’re going to do something to accidentally betray Jesus. Or maybe they are legitimately concerned they are going to be one who actively betrays Jesus. Each wants individual assurance from Jesus and public pronouncements of innocence. “Is it I, Lord?” can also be translated “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” Some clearly expect an answer from Jesus that sounds like “No Andrew, you could NEVER do anything like that to me.” They have pride. Others likely wrestled with real doubt, that doubt the whispers in ear of every man “you’re a fraud, you’re not as great as they think you are.” What is interesting is you don’t hear them arguing about who it might be. No one singles out Judas, well obviously it’s Judas right?! Judas is playing it pretty cool. Apparently there is no discernable outward sign among the disciples that any is more or less capable of betraying Jesus. On the outside they all look pretty good to each other. When we gather in groups, I believe there can be something inside of us that either self-righteous pride tells us where the best person in the group or in self-deprecating shame tells us we’re the least spiritual person there, the least faithful, the lease consistent, the least knowledgeable. Both are perversions of who we truly are. One denies our imperfection and need for humility, the other denies our value, worth, and who God has created us to be. The disciples, like us as disciples, need to wrestle with their own identities through sober self-examination. Jesus lets them stay in a place of disruptive tension. He doesn’t easily give them a specific answer; he only tells them “he who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.” It is mid-meal; all of them have put their hands in the dish. He doesn’t give immediate assurance. He lets them sit and contemplate the fact each of them is capable of divine betrayal. Jesus goes on to make two distinct points we have to be able to hold in tension simultaneously.
God’s specific will – “The Son of Man goes as it is written” The Cross isn’t Judas’ idea; it’ God’s design. Jesus isn’t saying he’s going to the cross or going to be betrayed because he’s been tipped off by some informant, he knows his death has been purposed by God. The cross wasn’t an accident and it wasn’t a back-up plan God came up with on the fly after the world, who rejected His rule in a glorious garden, would go on to rejects His Son coming in humility. The Cross has been prophesized for centuries, and planned by God from the beginning. Jesus isn’t the hapless victim of a rock solid plot by master conspirators he couldn’t thwart. Jesus is the willing savior and sacrifice and the cross is God ordained suffering and death of His own Son for the purposes of life joy and restoration of His people. God, in Jesus is, as in control over the cross as he was when he spoke the world into existence. After Jesus resurrection and ascension back to heaven Peter hits this point home in his first sermon in Jerusalem.
Acts 2:23 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Man’s responsibility for his sin. When God’s sovereignty and man’s actions intersect guilt and responsibility still remain. Yes the Cross will happen as God has decreed…..but woe to the agent of betrayal. Jesus gives a stirring condemnation of the consequences involved in ultimately rejecting and betraying Jesus. He pronounces “Woe” not “We’ll it’s part of God’s design so your just a robot so you’re off the hook. NO! Jesus say it would be better for the betrayer if he hadn’t been born. This was actually a common lament in Jewish culture at the time and the implication was the consequence of wrath that comes from knowing the eternal God and denying/rejecting Him as Lord was so devastatingly unpleasant it would be better to have never lived than to suffer these eternal consequences. Jesus is pointing to just judgment for the one who executes the betrayal of the Savoir. God can and does purpose man’s sin to ultimately bring Him glory, but that doesn’t mean God won’t be glorified by the righteous wrath given to those who oppose him.
Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Yes God purposed good and salvation at the cross. Let’s be clear what Judas and the Chief Priest mean to do is evil, what Pilate and the Roman soldiers will do is meant for evil. Let’s also not play the poor Judas card that so many in modern thought want to. Judas is doing what Judas wants to do. Judas has willingly resolved to betray Jesus; he has taken 30 pieces of silver, now he’s at the dinner, likely with the sliver on his person. Jesus has washed the feet of the disciples (including Judas) Jesus has announced a betrayal is coming, Judas see the collective sorrow of the disciples. Judas is given explicit warning about the eternal consequences of the one who betrays Jesus. When faced with the consequences of sin, Judas still willingly chooses to betray Jesus. To his face he asks a hypocritical question, distinct from the other disciples he says “is it I, rabbi?” Jesus is just a good teacher, not his Lord. Judas is living in some self-denial or deception. Jesus responds with an answer that puts the responsibility back on Judas. “you have said so”. Judas does not repent, instead Judas continues in sin to carry out the actions that have overflowed from his heart. We know from other accounts Judas left the table quickly. This section of scripture is called the passion of the Christ; not the plot of Judas. Jesus is willingly enduring suffering throughout this whole process including the very real betrayal of one of his closest associates.
Verse 26-30 | Feast Forever
Matthew 26:26-30 | 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The active betrayer of Jesus is no longer at the table and the meal continues. A great transition in the people of God on how the show faith in God’s mercy and grace is beginning. Passover was the communal meal that signified the mercy and grace of God for his people. Jesus is now going to institute a new covenant, one patterned after the old (in as much as the old was a shadow of what was to be in Christ) instituted but with a new eternal resurrection power. The tension, the doubt, the division, at the table is about to be transformed by the words and work of Jesus. The comfort Jesus gives to the disciples; who are doubting themselves and each other, is not to reassure them of their faithfulness but to point them to himself and his work on the cross. Jesus answer to our lack of faithfulness is his faithful action on our behalf. More than anything Jesus wants his disciples to remember Him, more than anything else about him he wants them to regularly have their attention turned to his death on the cross, how it shows their need for a savor, what he accomplished for His people, and how it points a new and restored future with God.
God’s people have been defined by the blood line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and now it is going to be defined by the shed blood of Jesus. Many theologians believe what we are seeing here is the birth of the New Testament church. Here are disciples of Jesus, united by Jesus work in a covenant community.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 | 31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Jesus Covenant is one of renewal, of redemption, of ultimate restoration, one where his death would be the exclusive avenue of relationship between God and His people, it is how God will forgive His people’s sin.
Take, eat, this is my body. This covenant is initiated by God; people didn’t say this old covenant seems flawed God can you intervene here? God initiates and when he does it includes a clear invitation. “Take” It nourishes the soul “eat” it gives a clear identification with Jesus (not as an idea, or an example, but as a person” “This is my body” Let the offering of my body be something that nourishes you. Let my death be a substitute for yours so you can have life. When we take and eat, responding obediently to Jesus instruction we are claiming the benefit of Christ death as our own. The bread Jesus would have used during the feast was called during the Passover the “bread of affliction”. Jesus offers himself as the afflicted in our place, he becomes our affliction. Jesus is now saying our affliction is going to be bared by his body on the cross. He is going to be broken, his flesh pierced by nails, his side split open and his heart ruptured.
Drink, all of you! The cup, obviously wine, he raises gives thanks and says the new covenant that I am going to establish is going to be ratified tomorrow with my own blood. He says drink if it “all of you”. Usually in ceremonies there was one priest who would drink on behalf of the covenant people Jesus is making it clear there are no second class citizens in God’s kingdom, everyone who is participating in this covenant shares in God’s grace equally. The earnest disciples present at the first communion table had bold words, conflicted soul, they were poor, uneducated, and fickle, had limited understanding of their saviors’ teachings and words. They claimed they’d die with Jesus but when trials came they scattered in fear. All of this Jesus knew about their hearts and character. He knows these men aren’t worthy of communion with a perfect and holy God and yet he graciously directs them to partake because it is the unworthy and the sinners who are in need of what Jesus has to offer, Himself. Jesus blood is going to flow and it’s going to be for the forgiveness of our sins. The word here is remission. It means both a removal and new freedom. It’s poured out for “many” not all. The offer of forgiveness is universal but the application of it is exclusive to those who have placed their faith in Jesus work in on the cross alone and worship him as Lord over all.
1 Cor 11:23-26 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Communion reminds us of what Jesus has done. Jesus is our substitute and vicarious sacrifice. Where we all deserve righteous consequences for our sin He paid the penalty of our sin, he bore our affliction.
Communion reminds us of who we are. We are forgiven, our sins are not in remission in a sense they can return to maim or kill us but in a complete release of the bondage sin holds us in. Our sins are removed and we are washed clean, no longer are under their slavery, but granted freedom in God’s Kingdom.
Communion reminds us of what is to come. From the beginning God has been preparing a celebration of His Glory to be enjoyed by His people. This small, but significant, meal points to a grand eternal feast. The next time this meal will be shared in the physical presence of Jesus is when it is in new heavens and new earth where we are all at a banquet table celebrating the resurrected Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ.
We are the unified body of Christ held together by the Holy Spirit because of the broken body of Christ for us. As the disciples sang a hymn together, so we sing together before going out as disciples on mission with Jesus. But first we take communion where the death of Jesus is proclaimed individually and corporately and hope of Jesus return is remembered for all who Trust Jesus!