What Price?

On occasion juries are called upon to make a decision in a civil case where there has been an accidental death, how much was that person worth? What kind of compensation should go to survivors? In Matthew 26:1–16 you are not looking at the value of the life of someone who was killed accidentally, but rather, the question is, what is the value placed on the Son of Man?

The priests and elders rejected the Messiah. Opposition to Christ has been building. Jesus’ authority had been contrasted with that of the religious leaders from the beginning, Matthew 7:28,29 (the conclusion of Jesus’ first discourse). As early as the healing on the Sabbath of the man with the shriveled hand, the Pharisees had been plotting his death, Matthew 12:14. The conflict had intensified the closer Jesus had come to the close of his ministry. His view of the kingdom of God and theirs were radically different.

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Wherever This Gospel Is Preached

What kind of gift would you give a king? Matthew 26:1–13 records a gift for the King.

Honor Christ as your King. Appreciate the appropriateness of this offering. The setting is Bethany, shortly before Christ’s betrayal and death. Jesus has been invited to dinner at the home of “Simon the leper,” perhaps healed by Jesus. A woman, unnamed by Matthew or Mark, but apparently Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 12:1-11), brings an alabaster jar of perfume, made of pure nard. The value was over 300 denarii, or a year’s wages. Despite a culture which reduced women to a secondary status and frowned upon their public intrusion into a dinner party like this, she enters the room and breaks the jar open. In a gesture of love and appreciation she pours it on the Savior. She shows her own unworthiness and Christ’s greatness. Her act of devotion, however, is immediately criticized by the disciples. John specifically focuses on the objections of Judas. Matthew’s placement of the account of the anointing in the middle of a description of the plot to murder Jesus (verses 1–5 & 14–16) heightens the treachery.

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Holding to the Mystery of the Faith

By nature, most of us would prefer to be served than to be a servant. But as a Christian you have a calling to be a servant, and there is a special office in the church called “servant,” as Paul tells you in 1 Timothy 3:8–16

Deacons, along with elders, must be qualified men. Don’t neglect the important office of deacon! The office of deacon flows out of the fact that God is concerned with all of life. That wide-ranging concern of the Lord was evident in the Mosaic provisions for the needy. Deuteronomy 24 put into the laws of Israel some specific ways in which they were to meet the needs of the vulnerable. Note that the underlying motivation is for Israel to remember their own time of slavery–and the fact that the Lord had redeemed them. They were about to enter the promised land, but even Canaan, flowing with milk and honey, was not beyond the effects of the curse. You and I are in a similar situation–redeemed by Christ, but looking forward to the completion of that work–and it the meantime finding opportunities to serve God and his people. The early church recognized the need for a diaconate, Acts 6. Note the selection by the congregation and the ordination by the Apostles. The deacons serve alongside the elders. Philippians 1:1 recognized both offices in the early church. Our text list qualifications (with a good deal of overlap) in adjacent passages. 1 Timothy 5, though not specifically identifying the concerns as “diaconal,” nevertheless says a great deal about the kind of service which the church ought to be performing. “The Scriptures designate the office of deacon as distinct and perpetu­al in the church. Deacons are called to show forth the com­passion of Christ in a manifold ministry of mercy toward the saints and strangers on behalf of the church. To this end they exercise, in the fellowship of the church, a recognized stewardship of care and of gifts for those in need or distress. This service is distinct from that of rule in the church.” (Form of Government of the OPC 9.1)

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“You Did It for Me”

What is true religion? If your answer focuses only on what you say you believe, there is a serious problem with what you believe, no matter how orthodox you claim to be. Notice how James 1:27 answers the question. James is reflecting what Jesus taught in Matthew 25:31–46.

Be ready to meet your Judge. Indifference is ultimately directed against Christ. This passage is more narrative than parable. The scene is that of the final judgment. Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. Those on Christ’s left are condemned because they neglected to meet his needs. In response to their shock, Jesus tells them that their failure to meet the needs of the least of these was a failure to meet his needs. The neglect of meeting the needs of those around us is more serious than we often realize, 1 Timothy 5:8. “It is precisely the devout who with eager longing await the day in which God will glorify his name before the eyes of all creatures, and in their cause God brings about the triumph of his own over all opposition…. All of history cries out for world judgment. The whole creation longs for it. All people witness to it. The martyrs in heaven cry out for it with a loud voice. The believing community prays for the coming of Christ. And Christ himself, the Alpha and the Omega, says: ‘See I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work’ [Rev. 22:12].” (Herman Ridderbos, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 699)

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