In the narrative of the woman who came to Jesus at Bethany with her precious alabaster box (verses 1-9), let us here observe how ready our Savior is to reward those who desire, in any way, to show their love and gratitude to Him. The poor woman was faulted by the onlookers for her “extravagance” in buying a very expensive box of ointment as an offering to our Lord; but from His lips, she received the highest commendation – which was infinitely better than the opinions of her human observers. Not only was she praised, in the presence of them all, for having done a good work; but Jesus also testified His approbation of her kind deed by saying that in every place where His Gospel shall be preached throughout the world, her act of devotion to Him shall be made known. And thus it has come to pass – you’re reading about her noble deed of love right now, two thousand years later!
In the first verse of this chapter, we are told that the chief priests and scribes sought to kill Jesus; and in verses 10 and 11, we see that they found a ready agent to assist them in their plans. Who would have dreamed that a traitor would even be found among the twelve Apostles? Yet so it came to pass. Like Judas, a person may go on in all the external forms of religion, and maintain a character for Godliness, and yet possess nothing of its reality. Let this sad truth lead us to pray for the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, or else the great spiritual privileges which we enjoy will be entirely useless.
When Jesus and His disciples sat down to the eat the Passover-supper together, He addressed them in a very solemn manner. He gave them bread, as a sign of His Body which was about to be crucified for them and us; and He also gave them the “blood of the grape,” as a token of His own blood that was about to be shed. The spiritual meaning may easily be understood. Just as these food items are nourishing and refreshing to the physical body; so also, Christ is the all-sufficient, life-giving nourishment of the soul. Whoever does not lovingly feed upon Him by faith shall spiritually perish.
What a solemn subject is here set before us to meditate upon! Those who turn their backs upon the elements which are offered in the Lord’s Supper – as tokens of pardon and means of grace to penitent sinners – are evidently traveling on the wide road to destruction. As we draw near to partake of the Lord’s Supper, it is fitting for us to have such a sense of Christ’s presence that we feel grief and shame for our sins which crucified Him, and it is also very proper for us to have a spirit of thankfulness and joy for that wonderful love which made Him willing to suffer and die for us. As we dine at His Table, we are kneeling in the presence of a Friend Who cannot deny us anything that we truly need; for He endured the wrath of God on our behalf! And we cannot take the tokens of His dying love, without a solemn vow to give up our whole selves – body, soul, and spirit – to His service. Under a sweet sense of pardon, we may go forth in the strength of the Lord, to battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil – being assured that our Redeemer is fighting for us, because we have been united with Him by faith. The Communion-Table is indeed a soul-refreshing service to those who thereby show their faith, love, and joy in “the Lord’s death till he come.”
Nothing can more forcibly teach us the dreadful nature of sin than the words which we read in verses 32-41 about our Savior’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was not the prospect of bodily sufferings which caused our blessed Savior to be “exceeding sorrowful.” No, there was something far more dreadful in His cup of suffering than anything which could have been endured by human nature alone. But Christ was God, as well as Man; and therefore, He was able to bear the punishment that was due to our sins. And if He had not taken upon Himself that punishment, we must all have endured its overwhelming weight in our own bodies forever!
The Jews had no idea of the real kind of Kingdom which Christ came to establish; and so it was natural for them to suppose that His disciples would fight, and not allow Him to be taken away as a prisoner without at least attempting resistance. Hence Judas, who had agreed to betray Him, was accompanied by a great multitude who carried swords and staves. Neither did any of the Apostles, at this time, understand the true nature of their Master’s mission upon earth; and so a feeble resistance was offered by one of them, who “drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.” But being aware of their own weakness, and seeing that their Lord made no effort to repulse His enemies, they all forsook Him and fled.
When Jesus was brought into the presence of the high priest, many liars came forward to bear false witness against Him. But from His own lips, we have a clear declaration that He is indeed “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed.” But while He was thus enduring the mock trial that endeavored to prove Him guilty, fear took hold of Peter’s mind and he denied his Master three times – just as Jesus had foretold that He would. Sin is indeed an evil and bitter thing; and yet such is our proneness to fall into it, that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit – which we must seek by constant prayer – that we can hope to resist it.
Lord Jesus, we beseech You to smite our rocky hearts and make the waters flow from our eyes as we think of our sins and how You became our true Passover Lamb, Who was sacrificed once and for all for us. Thank You for enduring the just wrath of God on our behalf, so that we may be redeemed from the curse of sin! Amen.
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