After Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested and separated from His disciples, the Bible tells us that they all forsook Him and fled. All but one. Peter followed, but at a distance. And through the providence of God, Peter found a way to be nearer to Jesus than the rest of the disciples were… nearer, but sadly, further away from Him. Being close up to Jesus didn’t help Peter at all. It just magnified his weakness. It showed up what he wasn’t made of. He had professed that he would die with jesus, but he couldn’t even testify that he was one of His disciples! Poor Peter… but poor us when we think and act as if we have more strength that we do!
Was there ever a scene so poignant as the time that Jesus spent in the garden of Gethsemane right before the cross? The gospel writers make much of this, as we find in Matthew 26:36-56. The text tells us that Jesus struggled with the enormity of the ‘cup’ placed before Him by the Father, which He must take and drink. It wasn’t out of fear of pain or death that he recoiled from drinking it. Not at all. But He knew that on drinking it, He would face separation from His Father. And yet (thanks be to God), He obeyed! What a wonderful Saviour!
‘Reality’ TV shows about how plastic surgery changes the way people look, are to me, only mildly interesting. They seem to portray a sad reflection on a society that is so obsessed with image. As they say, ‘beauty is only skin deep’. It’s superficiality at its best. Dying on the cross on that first Good Friday, Jesus wasn’t a pretty sight. He was beaten, tortured and naked. But the Bible holds out his death to us as the most amazing thing God has ever done for us! (See Romans 5:8) So why this death on a cross? To make us new on the inside! The Bible says of those who trust in Jesus, that they are ‘a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) This Easter, forget about image. Seek the One who loved you enough to die and rise for you even when you were His ugly enemy. Join us on Good Friday at 9:30am to hear the message of His transforming grace!
The scene at the Last Supper as recorded in Matthew 26:17-35 is so full of significance. Much could be (and has been!) written about the event which connected the Passover to this institution of the new covenant by Jesus. But what happened after the Last Supper is also important for setting the scene that would take place in the garden of Gethsemane, and this specifically concerns Peter, who, on hearing what was about to take place, boldly claimed to ‘even die with Jesus’. Poor Peter… but yes, how many times have you and I been like him?
It’s fitting that the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25:31-46 is the last thing that Matthew records in this long discourse from the mouth of Jesus. The parable has always been and remains one of the scariest parables that jesus ever told – not because it is unclear – but just the opposite! It is all too clear. In the parable, jesus tells His disciples that when He comes back he will take up His royal throne and immediately proceed to judge the nations, and therefore, all peoples. An in that process of judgement he will make an eternal distinction between those who are His (sheep) and those who are not (goats). The dividing line will be eternal and the judgement will be on the basis of works. Salvation is not by works. Salvation is by grace. That’s how anyone of us become one of His sheep! But judgement is based on works and these will either identify us as one of His sheep or not! It’s a most vital truth and one that you cannot ignore!
When Jesus told the ‘parable of the talents’ in Matthew 25:14-30, He did so in the context of urging His disciples to be ready for His return, and not to be found unprepared, like the five bridesmaids in the previous parable. So, in this ‘parable of the talents’, Jesus took this one whole step further by not only encouraging preparedness for His return but also fruitfulness in His absence. The themes of reward for fruitfulness and judgement for unfruifulness are evident in the story. All of us have been given something by the Lord Jesus. What He expects to find when He comes again and what we will bring to Him need to match up!
Although we move on in the text and now come to Matthew 25:1-13, the first of three parables Jesus told in this chapter, the topoic is still the same. Jesus has been emphasising the need to be be prapared for his coming and he does this again in this parable concerning the wise and foolish bridesmaids. All were give the same opportunity and no doubt inctrustions, but only 5 of the 10 were prepared for the bridegrrom’s delay. The others were not and so suffered the consequences. As God’s people we have to give attention to those things that make us ‘sleepy’ as we wait for our Bridegroom to come and ensure that we don’t fall into the category of ‘foolish’.
In this message, guest preacher, Rev. Len Pearce speaks from Galatians 2:15-3:9 about how the believer’s life is not just changed but exchanged. Not one of us is perfect yet there is no other way to stand before God: the believer stands justified by Christ before the throne of God’s justice. By His grace we exchange our sin for his perfect righteousness. We receive these benefits by God’s Spirit through faith. This is the heart of the gospel. Yet we don’t know the length of our days – be sure that you know Jesus as we get closer to eternity.
There’s a line in the heading that you might recognise from the children’s game ‘hide and seek’. The plain facts are that Jesus hasn’t told us the exact date of His return, which means that all of us need to be ready at any time. To illustrate what is required to make one ‘ready’, Jesus told a mini-parable in Matthew 24:45-51 about two servants set over a household under the charge of their master. In the master’s absence, both servants displayed something that would either commend or condemn them uin their master’s eyes. The question comes down to faithfulness and doing what you have been told. In our case, our Master!