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Following Jesus’ departure from the temple and the conclusion of His discourse with the disciples on the Mount of Olives about the nature of His coming to judge not just the unbelieving nation of the Jews but all the nations of men, how does Matthew now transition to the final part of his account of Jesus’ life and ministry?  See Mat 26:1, and notice that the NAS When Jesus had finished is literally And it came to pass when Jesus had finished, as in the KJV, which is a formula he has used four other times for such transitions; see Mat 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1.  How do Jesus’ words set the stage for the final part of Matthew’s account?  See Mat 26:2.

What day of the week was it that Jesus was met by the chief priests and elders as He entered the temple questioning His authority (Mat 21:23), that He spoke to them the parables of the two sons, the landowner and the marriage feast (Mat 21:28,33, 22:1), that they plotted to catch Him in something He said (Mat 22:15), that He denounced the scribes and Pharisees (Mat 23), predicted the destruction of the temple, and delivered the Olivet Discourse (Mat 24-25)?  See Mar 11:1,12,20,27, and notice that Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the humble King was on Sunday, hence our celebration of Palm Sunday.  As it was currently Tuesday, on what day would the two days Jesus mentions put the Passover?  Cf. Joh 12:1 and notice there that “six days before the Passover” also indicates that the Passover was on Thursday, because six days before Friday would have been on Saturday, and Jesus as an observant Jew who perfectly fulfilled the law of God would have rested and not travelled on the Sabbath to come to Bethany on that day.  Rather, He came to Bethany on Friday, and the supper prepared for Him at which Mary anointed Him with the costly perfume was the Sabbath meal that began at dusk.  It was during the Sabbath that the large crowd of Jews learned He was there (Joh 12:9) and the next day (Joh 12:12-13), Sunday, that He made His triumphal entry.

What does Jesus say would happen during the Passover?  See Mat 26:2.  What does He mean by handed over (NAS) or delivered up (ESV)?  Cf. the KJV betrayed, as the Greek word used is also commonly translated in the NAS.  Who was it that betrayed Jesus in the most personal sense?  See Mat 26:14-16,21-25,45-48.  Although Judas expressed remorse for having betrayed Jesus (Mat 27:3-4), and perhaps even truly believed in Him all along as the Messiah (he was, after all, one of Jesus’ twelve chosen apostles; cf. Mat 10:1), never expecting that Jesus would be crucified because he supposed He would manifest His power and establish His kingdom as he imagined it should be, does that change the fact that for all eternity he must bear the ignominy as the one who betrayed the most righteous man who ever lived?  What does this teach us about the importance of our actions as opposed to our intentions?  Should we suppose that even if we have good intentions that those will necessarily save us from the consequences of bad actions?  What should we then do in situations when we may feel compelled to act in a way that may seem right to our flesh, but is not grounded in the true righteousness of God?  Cf. Pro 14:12, Mat 16:24.  In light of the actions of one of Jesus’ closest disciples, who not unlike us no doubt rationalized his deed as necessary, how much better is it to take the clear path of righteousness even if it is contrary to our understanding and requires us to suffer in the flesh by subjecting our will to God’s and trusting that His ways are best, than it is to ever act in a questionable way that may turn out differently than we expect?

Was Judas alone in delivering up Jesus unto His crucifixion?  See Mat 20:18-19, 27:2,18, Joh 18:30.  See also the very next verses, Mat 26:3-4.  Was it just Judas and the leaders of the Jews who were culpable for handing Jesus over to be crucified?  See Joh 18:35, 19:14-16, Act 3:12-13.  In what sense does every person share some responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion?   Cf. 1Co 15:3, 1Pe 3:18.  Is that the same though as delivering up an innocent person to death, as Judas, the Jewish religious leaders, and Pilate did?  What did these all have in common that disposed them to such an infamously wicked deed?  See Joh 11:47-48, Joh 12:4-6, 19:12; cf. 1Jo 2:15.  What does this remind us about the tug-of-war in each of our hearts in this life between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, and how the word of God, which is the throne of Christ’s glory, sifts each person as wheat or chaff, sheep or goats, into or out of His kingdom of righteousness?  Will we entrust ourselves to God and choose His kingdom, even when we don’t understand and it causes us to suffer in our flesh, or will we cling to our love for the world and stumble deeper and deeper into its darkness until we too are as deceived as Judas, the Jewish leaders, and Pilate were to act so ignobly?

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