The Lord Jesus gave John seven messages to deliver to the seven churches of the region, and the first of the seven churches mentioned is the one in the city of Ephesus. What Jesus had to say to them was clear in Revelation 2:1-7. There was much to commend the church at Ephesus – they were hard working, dligient and orthodox – but there was one thing that caused Jesus much concern. They had lost their first love. But Jesus not only pointed this out, He also told them the steps needed to bring about the needed renewal.
When John turned to see the voice that was speaking to him in Revelation 1:1-20, he saw the Lord Jesus Christ in all His glory and fell at His feet as ‘though dead’. While the vision John had was of significance, of even more signficiance was what he heard Jesus say. In this second message on Revelation 1:1-20, we find out what Jesus thinks of His church and why he wrote the seven letters that appear in Revelation 2-3.
The book of Revelation is probably the most misunderstood book in the Bible. Admittedly, there are a few good reasons for that, but Revelation 1-3 could not be clearer. They are a message from Jesus to seven churches of the first century. In this first message on Revelation 1:1-20 which forms something of an introduction to chapters 2-3, it is vitally important to note what the book is about and also who it is that John saw in his vision.
In this message, Rev Peter Phillips reminds us that in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus gives us a very clear picture of how salvation is never earned or merited, but is always given freely by God to those who are undeserving. It is the not the self-righteous ‘good’ who make it in God’s eyes, but those who come to Him in complete humility and repentance. All this, is of course, a gift of God’s free grace.
When the women first went to the tomb where Jesus has been buried on that first Easter Sunday morning, they never expected to find Him alive. But when Matthew records in Matthew 28:1-20 that Jesus was alive, this changed everything. While they worshipped Him by falling down at His feet, the soldiers who had been guarding the tomb (and saw what happened) and the Jewish authorities were meeting together to spread misinformation about the truth. But no lie can stop the truth, and the whole universe is now under the Lordship on Jesus!
Matthew’ gospel continues to record the ‘things that happened to Jesus’ in Matthew 27:11-44. His sufferings did not end with His denial and betrayal or His arrest and trial, but also extended right up to and including His death on the cross. Matthew records all these things to make it doubly clear that Jesus was innocent of all crime and all sin. That He was the One who was ‘the righteous’ who died for the unrighteous’, to ‘bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18)
• Where we are in Matthew 26 • Vivid, remembered details • Three scenes in the text • See how Matthew tells us of…
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!
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?