A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – See Christ’s Mission Perseverance

 

We now enter into the climactic three chapters of this gospel where we see Jesus complete His gospel mission. The last three chapters present the culmination of Christ’s mission purpose and will be presented as follows:

 

·         Disciples – See Christ’s Mission Perseverance – Matthew 26

  • Disciples – See Christ’s Mission Price – Matthew 27
  • Disciples – See Christ’s Mission Power – Matthew 28

 

After completing His Olivet Discourse in which He instructed His disciples about the signs of the end of the age, His return, and there need to be watchful and wise until His coming, Jesus, in Matthew 26 now enters into the final phase of His mission. What happened in these last three chapters of Matthew has changed the world and history, is the heart of the gospel and is at the heart of every disciple of Jesus. The events of these final three chapters serve as the foundation and confirmation of the gospel and salvation for all those who believe. These are critically important chapters for the disciple because it is through these climactic events that the Spirit works the compelling love of Christ into the disciple (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

 

In Matthew 26 we see the perseverance of Jesus in His mission; though He was forsaken by all and wrongly accused, He persevered in His gospel mission. In Matthew 27 we see the price Jesus paid; Jesus was willing to give His life to fulfill His gospel mission. And lastly, in Matthew 28, we see the power of Jesus in His mission: Jesus rose from the dead in the power of the Spirit (Romans 1:4,16-17) demonstrating and validating the power attained in His gospel mission. Therefore, let us now turn to the first phase of the climax of Jesus’ mission.

 

A Murderous Mission Prophecy Yet Jesus Persevered

 

Matthew 26:1-2 – “Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples,2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”  [1]

Jesus knew He would soon die and the death He would suffer would be the cruelest and hardest of any person in history. In Isaiah it describes the death Jesus was to suffer:

  • Isaiah 52:14 – “Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;”  [2]

Just as it states, “His visage was marred more than any man,” His death would be the most significant of any man. Jesus, as we have seen throughout our study of Matthew, was a Master of the Word. He knew His prophecy and certainly knew who He was and the redemptive work He was to accomplish at the cross. Certainly He was familiar with such passages as that of Isaiah 53 which explains prophetically His gospel mission:

  • Isaiah 53:1-12 – “Who has believed our report?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.9 And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”  [3]

As we read this passage we see the heart of the gospel predicted. When we look at the final three chapters of Matthew, we see the gospel purpose fulfilled. Jesus knew He was to die, and He still persevered in His mission. Jesus was willing to pick up His cross, to die to complete His mission. This is the example Jesus set for His disciples. The Master disciple-maker Jesus, said:

  • Matthew 16:24 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  [4]

You see, the aim of God is that those who are saved by Jesus and follow Jesus, be conformed to His likeness. We see this purpose stated in Romans which says:

  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  [5]

To be conformed to the likeness of Jesus means that we too be willing to die for Him. Now understand,  the disciple does not die to be saved; the disciple is willing to die for Jesus because  our love for Him surpasses everything else, even our love of life. Paul was inspired to explain this when he wrote:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [6]

When we see the perseverance of Jesus in His gospel mission, the price He paid, and the power He established, we are moved with loving appreciation (which the Spirit pours forth into us – Romans 5:5). Again we turn to Paul to see how God inspired him to testify to this sense of picking up ones cross when he wrote:

  • Philippians 3:8-11 – “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  [7]

Jesus knew He was to die, and die a grisly death. We may never be put to that test, but if we are (like so many other disciples in history and in our day in other parts of the world where persecution is severe), the love of Christ will work in us to give the ultimate offering to the Lord.

A Murder Plot Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:3-5 – “Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,4 and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”  [8]

Think of what is happening here; those claiming to represent God are premeditatively plotting the demise the Holy One of God. The depth of their sin is seen in their cool and callous calculation to not arrange Jesus’ death during the feast, “lest there be an uproar among the people.” Here we see the extreme opposite of the love of a disciple. While the disciple is compelled by God’s love to the extent that they love Jesus more that life; the hypocritical Pharisee loves life and the accolades of men, the position of authority over men, and the things of this world so much, that they are willing to murder God!

In Romans this sinful nature is described. The wrath of God is upon those who suppress God’s truth. And the way people suppress God’s truth is by  supplanting the true God, with a “god” concocted in their own imaginations, a “god” who will condone their sin, serve their purposes and not require anything other than what they want themselves. In Romans it explains this by saying:

  • Romans 1:18,21-25 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, . . .21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” [9]

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day didn’t like the plan of God for is threatened their position before men. Therefore, they arranged to eliminate by murder, the heart of God’s plan Jesus. In effect, they tried to kill, to murder, God. Whenever a person distorts the truth of God (from His word) in order to condone or comply with their sin, they are in effect trying to kill God off in that area of their lives. Note too, that “the lie,” mentioned in Romans 1:25 refers back to the original in the Garden of Eden where Satan in serpentine form first attacks by raising questions and doubt concerning God’s word (Genesis 3:1,4) and then shoots the arrow of “the lie” which is found in the words:

  • Genesis 3:5 - “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [10]

In other words, Satan is saying, “Look, the reason God doesn’t want you to eat that fruit is because He is afraid you’ll become like Him, and make Him unnecessary.” “The lie,” is you can be your own god, you can be your own master, and you don’t need God. That’s what the chief priests and scribes were doing here; they were trying to eliminate God and His plan. They didn’t accept God’s plan because it wasn’t to their liking, therefore they sought to eliminate it and replace it with a plan that put them in power. And this, despite the miracles and incredible teaching of Jesus! They totally disregarded the revelation of God in Christ, they did not “glorify” or thank God (Romans 1:21), they totally rejected God. The only God they served was a “god” of their own creation, one they found acceptable.

Misguided Priorities Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:6-13 – “And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?9 “For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.11 “For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.12 “For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.13 “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”  [11]

During His final week before the cross, Jesus often spent time in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper (26:6). When we examine the parallel account in John’s gospel (John 12:1-8) we find that also living in this house were Mary, Martha and Lazarus, (who Jesus had raised from the dead). Simon the Leper was very possibly the father of these three. It was Mary who anointed Jesus with the costly oil (John 12:3). It was Judas who objected to this act of worship (John 12:4).

What do we learn from this account? First by looking here and at the parallel accounts (Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8) we see that the oil poured on Jesus was costly (“300 denarii” or about a years wages – John 12:5). Here we see Mary, in the pouring of the oil on Jesus, pouring out her heart before the Lord in an act of worship. There is an important message for us here.

Notice, Jesus’ comments:

  • Matthew 26:12 -  “For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.”  [12]

Jesus tells us that Mary was aware He was going to die. That is incredible because not even His closest disciples understood, despite His repeated teaching of it, that He was to die. Of the disciples it states their only response was, “But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?” (26:8). They just didn’t get it; even at this late stage of Jesus’ ministry and mission, they just didn’t understand that He was going to the cross to die and atone for sin. They were dull (Matthew 16:9,11,21-23). They were sorrowful at the words of Jesus about His predicted death (Matthew 17:22-23), but apparently they didn’t truly receive the impact of it.

Why did Mary seem to comprehend the significance of Jesus’ death and the disciples did not? Here is a truth; Mary comprehended the substance of Jesus mission and cross because of her close worshipful relationship with Jesus.  Coming close to Jesus in worship brings you in tune with His purposes and priorities. The disciples were out of sync with the purposes and priorities of Jesus because they weren’t in a worshipful state before Jesus. If you want to comprehend the substance of Jesus purposes and have your priorities in line with Him, you need to worship at His feet. Worship brings our hearts in sync with His heart.

An example of this is found in Acts where disciples were commissioned and directed by the Spirit as they worshipped the Lord. IN Acts it reads:

  • Acts 13:1-3 – “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”  [13]

To say, “As they ministered to the Lord,” is another way of saying that they were worshipping the Lord. It was in the context of their worship that the Spirit illuminated and directed them as to the next step in their ministry mission. Worship opens the door of our heart and mind to receive direction and insight into the way of the Lord.

Money Perverts Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:14-16 – “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”  [14]

When Jesus defied the material priorities of Judas by rebuking before the other disciples his misguided concern over the worth of the costly perfume, Judas came to the end of his act. Judas likely joined Jesus group because he saw the potential for attaining to a position of power and influence. He probably soaked in the attention given one who was close to this miracle worker. When Jesus performed His miracles, and the people saw Judas close to Jesus, they must have cooed and envied Judas for his privileged position. Judas likely lived for that attention and fame. But the extravagant and expensive act of worship done by Mary to Jesus was just too much for him. In John’s account it tells us that Judas was a thief and was pilfering the money donated to Jesus’ ministry (John 12:6).

It isn’t that money in and of itself is sinful; it is that it is so often the means by which the greedy carry out their sin. In Paul’s letter to Timothy Paul is inspired to explain this:

  • 1 Timothy 6:9-10 – “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  [15]

Money is not the problem; it is the greedy love of money that is the “root of all kinds of evil.”  Judas was a greedy thief in part because he likely enjoyed the power of spending and buying. He was simply out to serve himself and that by whatever means at his disposal, even if it was at the expense of Jesus’ life. It’s true money can pervert the one whose priorities are in this world. Judas was unwilling to persevere with Jesus, because his priorities were wrong and he wasn’t willing to count the cost of being a disciple.

Thirty pieces of silver

Another interesting thing about this passage is that “thirty pieces of silver,” (26:15) is equivalent to the redemption price for a slave in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:32). Incredibly this was a fulfillment of prophecy found in Zechariah (Zechariah 11:12) which was written more than 500 years before this event took place. There is no way that such a fulfillment could have been planned or prearranged. This prophecy adds to the certainty that Jesus is the Messiah of the Old Testament. The Son of Man who came to serve and not be served, to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45) would now be sold-out for slave money, yet Jesus persevered. .

A Meal With A Prediction Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:17-25 – “Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” ’ ”19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.21 Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”23 He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.24 “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.””   [16]

The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread were two separate but concurrent holy days in the Jewish calendar (26:17). Both of these holidays related to the Exodus out of Egypt of God’s people at the hand of God (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:4-8). The Passover commemorated the meal eaten by God’s people during the night of the twelfth plague brought on Egypt where the Angel of Death killed the firstborn of the Egyptians. The Israelites were spared this plague by sacrificing a lamb, placing blood on the top, sides and bottom of their door posts and when the Angel of Death came throughout the land and saw the blood he would Passover their homes. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a weeklong feast where only unleavened bread would be eaten to show the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt. The Passover meal occurred on the day before the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 14:12). The concurrent holy days consisted therefore of eight days. The Sabbath during such a holiday week was considered a “high Sabbath” (John 19:31).

 

Days under Jewish Law begin at sundown or around six o’clock in the evening (because that is the sequence in the Creation account – “So the evening and the morning were the first day” Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). (Our days go from midnight to midnight.) The Passover meal of Jesus and the disciples likely started on our Wednesday at sundown or the beginning of Thursday in terms of the Jewish measuring of days. Passover day begins the fourteenth day of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar and would have been from Wednesday sundown to Thursday sundown. At sundown on Thursday the Feast of unleavened Bread would begin and because of the feast the Sabbath would be a high Sabbath during the feast (John 19:31). 

 

Much has been made about whether or not Jesus was crucified on Thursday or Friday. A case can be made for both. This author believes there is more evidence for a Thursday crucifixion than for a Friday crucifixion. The Friday time is proposed because of the reference to Jesus dying near the Sabbath (Luke 23:56; John 19:31). But John (John 19:31) explains that since the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins after the Passover Day, the first day of the Feast of unleavened Bread “high Sabbath.” If Jesus were crucified on Thursday, it allows for a more complete fulfillment of His prediction that He would be in the tomb, “three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40; 26:61; 27:40, 63; Mark 8:31; 14:58; 15:29). There is Biblical evidence that a part of a day is considered a “day.” Jesus Himself said He would rise “in three days” implying to us three full days. But does this mean He would rise on the fourth day? Nowhere does it state that Jesus would rise on the fourth day.  In fact Jesus says specifically that He would rise “on the third day” (Matthew 16:21; John 2:19-22). It is likely therefore that when the phrase, “three days” is used it is an idiom that includes parts of a day as being accepted as a “day.” Evidence for such a view is found in the Pharisees asking for a guard to be posted “until the third day” (Matthew 27:63-64). If the Pharisees held to the three complete days they would have requested the guard to be placed on the fourth day. (See also Genesis 42:17 and 1 Samuel 30:12-13 for idiomatic uses of  “three days.”) The important thing to remember is that Jesus died and rose again just as He said He would!

 

The Passover

 

The exact location of where Jesus ate celebrated the Passover is not indicated in the gospels other than it was in Jerusalem (26:18). Jesus likely celebrated the Passover in a house where someone probably acknowledged Him as Messiah. The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions and prepared the Passover and then Jesus sat down with the disciples to eat the Passover meal (26:19-20). Of this meal pastor Chuck Smith comments:

 

In the Passover there were several necessary ingredients to observe this feast. First of all, there was the cup of the Kiddush, which means sanctification or separation. The head of the family took the cup and he prayed over it and then he drank of it and then it was shared among the group. The Passover meal itself was  . . . [eaten while] reclining on the floor. [T]hey ate, leaning on their left elbow, eating with their right hand. That was the customary way of eating in those days. They did not have dinnerware, they did not have silverware but they usually ate with their hands. That’s why there was so much washing of the hands. Three times during the Passover feast there would be the washing of the hands. It was carried out only by the person who was to celebrate the feast and three times he had to wash his hands in the prescribed way.

 

Then they would eat a piece of parsley or lettuce endive, which was dipped in a bowl of salt water. It was the appetizer to the meal but it was also very significant. The bitterness of the parsley or endive was to remind them of the hyssop bush that was used to sprinkle the blood on the doorpost. . . [The] salty water were [symbolic of] the tears that their fathers shed while in slavery in Egypt and of the salty waters of the Red Sea that God divided in order to bring them through.

 

Then there was the breaking of the bread; the meal had three loaves and the middle loaf broken. With the breaking of the bread a couple of prayers were offered. And then the youngest child is to ask the question, “What makes this night different from all nights?” . . . [Then] the eldest male member of the family would rehearse the story of God’s deliverance of their fathers out of Egypt and the Passover of the death angel. And then during the ceremony they would sing at this point Psalm 113 and 114. Now Psalm 113 to 118 are the Hallel psalms, the psalms of praise . . . .

 

. . . [T]hen they would take the second cup, the dinner began with a cup of wine and now is the second cup. It’s called the cup of the Haggada, which is the explaining or proclaiming, as they had just rehearsed the story. Now all of those who are present wash their hands in preparation for the actual meal and then they say grace, which was “Blessed art Thou O Lord our God who brings forth the fruit of the earth. Blessed art Thou O God who has sanctified us with Thy commandment and enjoined us to eat unleavened cakes. And they would then distribute small portions of the bread.

 

[T]hen they would have these bitter herbs and they were placed between two pieces of unleavened bread and then dipped in the Karosheth, which was a mixture of dates and nuts which was to remind them of the mortar that was used on the bricks during their slavery. It was called the sap. This is what Jesus was referring to, he who dips in the sap with me, in the Karosheth takes at that time these two pieces of bread with the bitter herbs, dips them in the Karosheth, he who dips with me, the same is the one who will betray Me.

 

It was at this point in the meal that Jesus said told the disciples that one of the inner twelve would betray Him (26:21). They responded sorrowfully and began to ask Him who it was (26:22).

“Lord, is it I?”

When Jesus prophesied that He would be betrayed by one of the inner twelve disciples, it sent shock waves throughout the group. They responded by being “exceedingly sorrowful,” and asking, Lord, is it I?” (26:22). One commentator makes the following observation about this passage:

“In the original language, the question Lord, is it I? suggests that a negative answer was cautiously expected by each one, “It is not I, is it?” Coupled with Peter’s later defensive protest and subsequent failure, it seems clear that the entire group feared the possibility of failure. What a transformation would have to take place to change these cowards into the mighty apostles of the book of Acts!” [17]

These disciples were shaky and insecure at best. They were uncertain of their own hearts. What a difference the power of the Spirit will make in their hearts and lives when He comes upon them at Pentecost (Acts 2). How about you, are you concerned about how you would respond when put to the test? Do you wonder, “Lord, would I betray You? Lord, would I turn my back on You?” In the gospels the disciples all turned tail and ran when put to the test. In the book of Acts, not only did the disciples preach dynamically in the spirit, but they did so in Jerusalem, the very place filled with the enemies of Christ and where Jesus was crucified.  The lack of confidence and courage seen in the disciples in the gospels is in stark contrast to the bold and courageous Spirit-filled apostles seen in Acts. Maybe you need to receive such an empowerment by the Spirit. That power is received by faith just as you received Jesus as your Savior (Acts 15:8-9). Why not seek Him now about that?

The dip

Then Jesus said, ““He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (26:23-24). In the culture of the Middle East, to eat together in this way had the effect of joining people together. As each person dipped into the common bowl of food, they shared particles and contact with one another and so an intimate bond took place. Eating together is of far more significance in the culture of the Middle East and certainly in the day of Jesus than it is in many other cultures. Therefore, here was the fulfillment of the most bitter betrayals in history. The betrayer dips into the dipped his hand with the hand of Jesus and in so doing identified himself as the culprit. And yet Jesus persevered. Judas then ventures to ask, “Is it I?” (26:25) and Jesus acknowledges that it is him. Think of the nerve Judas had to ask if he was the one who would betray Jesus when he knew indeed that he was.

The message of this meal is that even when faced with a defiant and heartless traitor, who bitterly betrays, Jesus persevered in His mission. The disciples of Jesus should take note of this because everyone is betrayed at one point or another in life and the disciple needs to persevere like the Master when it occurs.

A Meal With Purpose Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:26-30 – “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.28 “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”  [18]

The Passover meal and all the Old Testament holidays and sacrifices carried a prophetic message intended by God to point to Christ. The Bible tells us this in the following verses:

  • Colossians 2:16-17 – “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”  [19] (See also Hebrews 8:5; 10:1).

In the Passover we have the depiction of the sacrifice Lamb, Jesus, who was to come and give His life a ransom for the lost (John 1:29). Here Jesus teaches about the fulfillment of the Passover seen in Him. The church now celebrates the Passover with Jesus as the focus and calls it, “The Lord’s Supper,” or “Communion.” Jesus begins by taking unleavened bread breaking it and distributing it to the disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is My body” (26:26). It is important that we rightly understand what Jesus is saying at this point.

Jesus then took “the cup” and told the disciples to all drink from it (26:27-29).  There were three cups used in the Passover meal. The one Jesus held now was likely the third cup known as “the cup of blessing.” Certainly Jesus fills up the cup of blessing with His redemptive work. He then says, “This is My blood of the new testament.” In the Old Testament covenants were sealed in blood (Exodus 24:8), which symbolized a commitment established with a life commitment (see Jeremiah 31 and Zechariah 9:11). Jesus then says, “which is shed for many for the remission of sins” which is a clear reference to the substitutionary nature of the sacrificial atonement of Jesus on the cross. The New Testament or Covenant that Jesus was instituting was put in place by His perseverance to the point of His sacrificial death. As disciples, we are to continue celebrating the communion remembrance until Jesus returns to set up His millennial reign on earth, “in My Father’s kingdom” (26:29).

After Jesus said these things, they all sung a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives (26:30).

Remission of sins

The word, “remission,” is translated from the Greek term APHESIS (Strong’s #859) and means,  “a dismissal, release”[20] “forgiveness, deliverance, suspension of punishment.” This Greek term is a compound word constructed by combining the prefix APO which means, “from, away from,” with HIEMI which means “send,” hence the idea of, to send away from.” In its classical secular use it was used to refer to dismissing people at the end of a meeting or when a husband “sends away “ his wife in divorce. Most significantly though is the legal use of the term to refer to releasing someone from a legal obligation or forgiving a debt. Therefore when we apply this to Jesus we see that the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross led to God putting away our sin and canceling our debt.

 Actual Transubstantiation or Symbol of the Lord’s Sacrifice?

The Roman Catholic Church holds to a view of these words of Jesus that states that at the offering of the bread and wine (or juice) during the Communion service that they actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus. This view is referred to as Transubstantiation. The KJV Bible Commentary makes the following well said comment here on this view:

This is my body. If the words of the Lord had intended to convey a transformation of the bread into His body they would have read, “This has become my body.” During the Passover feast the Jewish householder took bread in his hand and said, “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt,” meaning, of course, that the one represented the other. By His words the Lord changed the whole significance and emphasis of the feast from looking back to the typical redemption from Egypt to faith in the redemption from sin accomplished by His death. For a clear example of the use of the word “is” as “represents” . . . Galatians 4:25 . . .  states, “for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children[21] the obvious interpretation is that Hagar is a symbol here]. The bread and wine were only outward symbols of our Lord’s death and a reminder to us of the cost of our redemption during our Lord’s absence (cf. Lk 22:19). Nothing in the Gospels indicates that these were to be viewed as a means of grace, sacraments, or that they were physically necessary for one’s salvation.[22]

When Jesus held up the unleavened bread and said it was ‘ My body,” He was using the bread as a symbol, an object lesson in what He was to accomplish at the cross.

A New Testament/Covenant – A New heart

What Jesus did that night was foretold in the Old Testament. As we look at the passages which predicted this New Covenant we gain insight into it’s significant. In the Old Testament it states:

  • Jeremiah 31:31-37 - “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32 “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.34 “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” 35 Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The Lord of hosts is His name):36 “If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the Lord, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever.”37 Thus says the Lord: “If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the Lord.”  (See also Jeremiah 32:37-40)[23]

Jeremiah here is inspired to describe the New Covenant as an internal relationship with God whereby His Law is put in people’s minds and hearts. This is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who enters the convert upon regeneration (Romans 8:11;Titus 3:5).

The prophet Ezekiel also speaks of this New Covenant saying:

  • Ezekiel 36:26-28 - “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.28 “Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”  [24]

Herein is the key to the power of the New Covenant that comes by grace through faith in Jesus; the gospel of the New Covenant provides a new heart to the one who is saved. The heart of people is not reformable, or renovatable,  it is only replaceable. When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior by putting faith in Jesus Himself and His finished work, a transformation takes place where our old fleshly and sinful heart is transplanted with a new spiritual heart. And all of this is made possible by Jesus who gave His body and poured out His blood on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice. It was the perseverance to the end of Jesus that made the New Covenant an available reality.

Mount Olivet Pride Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:31-35 – “Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 1 ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’32 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.”  [25]

Luke is inspired to tell us that after Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper that the disciples got into an argument over who was the greatest (Luke 22:24-30). It is on the heels of this argument that Jesus tells the disciples that they will “all” betray Him and that Peter makes his boast that all of the other disciples may betray Him but he would not. Peter’s boast is the claim of an impulsive and proud person. There is no place in the heart of a disciple for pride and Jesus puts in place the means by which the proud air will be let out of Peters boastful balloon. It’s interesting, Peter could boast that he’d never betray Jesus even if it meant dying for Jesus, but he could not remain awake praying with Jesus in Jesus’ greatest time of need. Sometimes it is easier to die for Jesus than it is to live for Him (26:36-38).

What you see here is that you can’t follow Jesus with your old heart. The Bible speaks of this transplant further by speaking of a spiritual transfer that takes place described as becoming “a new creation.” We read about this in the following verse:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  [26]

Only when Peter and the other disciples had experienced this conversion transformation would they be able to be in sync with the Lord. Before their conversion what we see is a dull-witted, obtuse, misunderstanding, thick-headed, spiritually dead, non-comprehending, out of step, dense group of men who eventually fled for their lives when their Master and Savior was giving His life for them. After their conversion and their empowering by the Spirit, we find a spiritually acute, aware, perceptive, sensitive, courageous, bold, walking in the Spirit group of people who turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is something only God can do in a person (Philippians 2:13). That is something that resulted from the perseverance of Jesus.

Midnight Prayer Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:36-46 – “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.46 “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.””  [27]

Gethsemene,” means “olive press.” Jesus was pressed and persevered to the limits in prayer in Gethsemane. Gethsemane is a quiet place with olive trees that have an ancient appearance. You see, it isn’t that Jesus feared death and was praying to avoid it. Many martyrs have given their lives confidently throughout history. But Jesus persevered in prayer saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (26:39). The key to comprehending His concern is to understand this, “cup.”

Two cups

What is the meaning of “cup” here in Jesus’ prayer? When we look at the use of “cup” in the Bible, we see that beyond the mundane use of the cup as a drinking utensil, it holds great symbolic significance.

Cup,” (Greek POTERION – Strong’s #4221) when used figuratively the cup itself is seen as a neutral entity used to figuratively pour out God’s allotment to a person whether good or bad. The cup is a figurative tool to administer God’s decision and will on someone.

Examples of the use of the cup to pour out negative aspects of God’s will toward someone are:

  • Psalm 11:6 – “Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup.”  (See Psalm 75:8) [28]
  • Isaiah 51:17 – “Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord The cup of His fury; You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, And drained it out.” [29]
  • Jeremiah 25:15 – “For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.”  [30]
  • Ezekiel 23:32-34 - “Thus says the Lord God: ‘You shall drink of your sister’s cup, The deep and wide one; You shall be laughed to scorn And held in derision; It contains much.33 You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, The cup of horror and desolation, The cup of your sister Samaria.34 You shall drink and drain it, You shall break its shards, And tear at your own breasts; For I have spoken,’ Says the Lord God.” [31]
  • Zechariah 12:2 - “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.”  [32]
  • Revelation 14:10 - “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”  [33]

Examples of the use of the cup to pour out positive aspects of God’s will on someone are:

  • Psalm 23:5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.”  [34]
  • Psalm 116:13 – “I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord.”  [35]

In the New Testament the figurative use of cup is used most frequently in regards to the sufferings of Jesus. Examples of this are:

  • Matthew 20:22-23 – “But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”   [36] (Also Mark 10:38-39)
  • John 18:11 – “So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”  [37]

In Matthew 26 we see Jesus use the cup in both a positive and negative way. At the Last Supper He uses the cup as a symbol of a New Covenant, a cup that filled with His blood that would be shed for the remission of sins:

  • Matthew 26:27-28 – “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.28 “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  [38]

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays three times to the Father that if it is at all possible to let “this cup” pass from Him:

  • Matthew 26:39,42,44 – “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” . . . 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” . . 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.”  [39]

The cup that Jesus refers to in Gethsemane is the cup filled with God’s wrath due to be justly poured out on the sinner as a penalty for sin. The cup Jesus prays to the Father to take from Him if at all possible is the cup of, “Fire and brimstone and a burning wind” (Psalm 11:6);  “The cup of His fury” (Isaiah 51:17); the, “cup of fury from My hand” (Jeremiah 25:15); the “cup of fury from My hand” (Ezekiel 23:33); the cup of trembling (Zechariah 12:2); and, “the cup of His indignation” (Revelation 14:10).  This is an incredibly important aspect of Jesus’ mission and unless he persevered in this part of it, we would be eternally lost. This is true because, THE CUP OF THE NEW COVENANT, THE CUP OF SALVATION (Psalm 116:13) IS ONLY POSSIBLE BECAUSE TOOK ON THE CROSS THE CUP OF GOD’S WRATH. THE ONLY REASON WE CAN RECEIVE THE CUP OF SALVATION AND DRINK FORM THE CUP OF THE NEW COVENANT IS BECAUSE JESUS TOOK THE CUP OF GOD’S WRATH ON THE CROSS AND SHED HIS BLOOD IN OUR PLACE.

The Propitiation

The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane and the “cup” He seeks the Father’s will about is a very important part of the redemptive mission of Jesus. What we see here is Jesus seeking the Father’s will as to His propitiatory sacrifice. What does propitiation mean? We find propitiation mentioned in the book of Romans which states:

  • Romans 3:21-26 – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”  [40]

The English word “Propitiation” is translated from the Greek term HILASTERION (- 2435. iJlasthvrionhil-as-tay´-ree-on). HILASTERIO refers to “expiation,” it is used to refer to “an atoning victim/sacrifice,” or, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple, the “mercy seat.” A word similar to HILASTERION is used in Greek religion, which is HILASKOMAI  (2433).  The idea in Greek religion for this word was, “to make the gods propitious, to appease, propitiate.” Greek gods were capricious and were by nature not kindly inclined to their subjects. Therefore, the goodwill and favor of pagan gods had to be earned by appeasing them with sacrifices and good works.  Such a use of the word is foreign to the God of the Bible. Vine’s Expository Dictionary states the following:

 

It is never used of any act whereby man brings God into a favorable attitude or gracious disposition. It is God who is “propitiated” by the vindication of His holy and righteous character, whereby through the provision He has made in the vicarious and expiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has so dealt with sin that He can show mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins. . . . The expiatory work of the Cross is therefore the means whereby the barrier which sin interposes between God and man is broken down. By the giving up of His sinless life sacrificially, Christ annuls the power of sin to separate between God and the believer.  [41]

 

Propitiation is therefore, the perseverance of Jesus in appeasing the righteous justice of Holy God. How does God work in this propitiation?

Persevering in Propitiation – The Work of God

Propitiation is the persevering work of Jesus and it begins in the Old Testament. Propitiation involves the OT imagery of the sacrificial system. On The Day of Atonement  (Leviticus 16) the High Priest would select two goats and by lot, one would be sacrificed, the other would be led out into the wilderness. This later goat was referred to as “the scapegoat.” Upon the goat that was sacrificed the priest would lay his hands and confess the sins of the people while sacrificing it. The priest would then take the blood of the sacrificed goat and go behind the veil and sprinkle the mercy seat, (the cover – HILASTERION - of the ark of the covenant which was a box shaped structure) seven times with the blood. The sacrifice of the goat, the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat seven times, completed the propitiatory act. God accepted the shedding of the blood of the goat on behalf of the people, and then the people would be acceptable to Him. When the scapegoat disappeared into the wilderness the priest would signal the disappearance of the goat and the people would worship and rejoice because atonement was completed by the shedding of blood and the removal of sin out of sight. The psalmist captures this idea when he writes: .

  • Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  [42]

The Day of Atonement in the Old Testament with the sacrificial goat and scapegoat were only an illustration of would Christ would do in reality in the New Testament. The New Testament reveals the mystery of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. You see the Bible also teaches that the blood of bulls and goats was not good enough to make atonement but only pointed to the work of Christ. In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 10:1-4 – “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.  [43]

Since no sinful sacrifice of man or animal is sufficient to atone for sin, but a perfect Man was needed, we therefore read in the New Testament:

·         1 Peter 1:18-19 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  [44]

Don’t let this truth pass you by; Propitiation involves GOD APPEASING HIS JUSTICE AND HOLINESS BY HIMSELF PROVIDING A SACRIFICE IN HIS SON JESUS. We do not appease God, God appeases Himself in Christ. This was prophetically pictured in the book of Isaiah where it states:  

  • Isaiah 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  [45]
  • Isaiah 53:10-12 – “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”   [46]

In the New Testament we see how the Triune God worked this propitiation in Himself as it states:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  [47]

This is sweet and precious grace dear disciple. “GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF”! The only way for the High and Holy Almighty God to resolve the sin problem of humankind was to Himself atone for sin and propitiate the sin. It’s incredible that God would do that, but He did. Why did He do it? Because he is not only holy, but also a God of love as it states:

  • Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [48]

Why is propitiation necessary?

Why is propitiation necessary? Because, God is absolutely righteous. Satan challenges God’s righteousness, His fairness. Satan did this in the Garden of Eden when he insinuated that God was keeping something good form Eve by not allowing her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:4-5). Objections by people to accepting the gospel often involve people’s challenge to God’s fairness about damning anyone to hell. But God is absolutely righteous and fair and therefore, whatever judgment He imposes we can be confident that it will be just and fair.

Now, since God is totally fair and just, how can He forgive your sins and still be just and holy? You have broken His laws and sinned repeatedly. You are hopelessly condemned by the law of God. How can a just God forgive sin? How can God be in harmony with His law and forgive those who break that law?

Sin is missing the mark” (Greek HAMARTIA). How could a just judge who keeps the law perfectly, treat those who miss the mark or break His law as though they had never missed the mark? How could a just judge set a criminal free who had obviously committed the crime they are accused of committing?

When God forgives a person, He must do so with a righteous basis. God can’t just say, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” God can’t break His own law to forgive the sinner. The law must be satisfied. The lawful penalty for breaking God’s law is death. The sinner must die in accordance with the law. How can God accomplish this? God sent his Son into the world who lived a perfectly sinless life. Jesus never missed the mark. BECAUSE JESUS LIVED WITHOUT SIN, HE WAS ABLE TO FREELY OFFER HIMSELFIN YOUR PLACE AS PAYMENT FOR YOUR DEBT OF SIN. IN DOING SO, GOD IS ABLE TO JUSTLY FORGIVE YOUR SIN BASED ON THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS IN YOUR PLACE. THE DEATH OF JESSU, THE INNOCENT SON OF GOD, IS THE RIGHTEOUS BASIS OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS OF SIN.

The Bible states that the shedding of blood or giving of life is necessary to forgive sins:  

  • Hebrews 9:22 – “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”  [49]
  • Leviticus 17:11 – “‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”  [50]

Since sin ruins God’s intended holiness of life and destroys life, a life that was holy and without sin is what is required to reverse or atone justly for sin. There is no other way to redeem (buy sinful people out from under the burden and debt of sin) than by the death of Jesus, the perfect sinless Man on the cross. Jesus prayed for any possible alternative in the Garden of Gethsemane  (Matthew 26:39,42,44). The silence of the Father in response to His son’s request indicated there is no other way for sin to be atoned for and forgiven than through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 2:2).

Jesus is the only way

Here we have one of the greatest and clearest proofs that Jesus’ atoning death on the cross was necessary and the only way a person can be saved and enter Heaven. Three times Jesus prayed for an alternative, for “this cup pass from Me” but each time the silence form the Father indicates there is no other way. If salvation could have come through any other way, the Father would have spared His Son Jesus. But since He did not, we know that Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is the only way.

Despite this clear proof of Jesus as the only way to salvation there are those who disregard God and His word to propose their own way. An example of this is found in the teachings of the God Squad. The God Squad is composed of a Rabbi (Marc Gellman) and a Roman Catholic Priest (Msgr. Thomas Hartman). In a recent issue of a Saturday Newsday newspaper (3/23/02) the God Squad, (who have a weekly question and answer column), responded to a question dealing to someone who asked them if Jesus was the only way to salvation. The title of that days column was “The Many Paths To God.” The God Squad response was as follows:

“Q. I’m a Christian and have been told all my life that Jesus is the Messiah and the one who will redeem all people. However, you’ve written that there are many paths to the top of the mountain and many paths to God. How can this be true from a Christian perspective?

A.From a Christian point of view, Jesus is the son of God and his atoning death is necessary for salvation. The question before Christians for tow millennia has been whether or not one has to believe this to be saved. In John 3:5, we read: “Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  This verse convinces some Christians that one must formally accept Jesus as savior in order to be saved. Most evangelical Protestants believe this literally.

Catholic theologian Karl Rahner offers a theological alternative called “baptism by desire,” by which people who have neither been baptized nor accepted Jesus as savior can still be saved by Jesus’ atoning death, even if they don’t’ know it. Their lives of kindness, goodness and compassion count as if they were baptized.

Rahner and others point to Matthew 25:31-40 [quoted in full] . . . In this passage, the people did not know they were helping Jesus when they helped the poor and imprisoned. Rahner and others conclude that one need not know or believe in Jesus to be saved.

We stand with Rahner and with all who say God would not cast into hell people who feed the hungry and try to make this world a better place. We also honor those who believe there is only one way up the mountain. We believe the mountain is way too big for just one path and God is way too loving to ignore all the other climbers.” [51] (Emphasis added.)

This response is typical of those who turn a blind eye to God’s revealed truth in order to avoid the offense of the cross. To such as these toleration is the preeminent dogma even if it means disregarding the cross of Christ. Notice their attempt to please some by saying people who don’t believe in Jesus, “can still be saved by Jesus’ atoning death, even if they don’t know it” ! That is as “narrow” as they get. That is as much respect that the cross of Christ gets from the  God Squad. Their spirit of toleration and duplicity comes out with their talk of a mountain that has many paths leading to the top. They condescendingly accommodate those who believe Jesus is the only way by saying they “honor” them too. But for them and their view of God, “God is way too loving to ignore all the other climbers.” I wonder why God didn’t tell that to His Son Jesus in Gethsemane. When Jesus asked three times if the cup could be removed, why didn’t God His Father say, “Oh please Son, don’t think you have to go through all the trouble of dying on the cross, there are many paths to Me so why go through all that trouble and pain?” That God didn’t say anything of the sort indicates clearly, along with the actually cross work of Jesus, that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ and His atoning work and resurrection (See also John 14:6).

That Jesus is the ONLY  way to be saved from sin is explained further in these comments by pastor Chuck Smith:

“The prayer of Jesus. Father, let this cup pass from Me, if it’s possible. If what is possible? If salvation and redemption for mankind is possible by any other means, by any other method, then let this cup pass from Me.  . . The reason why the cross of Jesus Christ offends people is because it narrows down the way of salvation to only one way. There’s only one hope for a man to be forgiven his sin, there’s only one hope for heaven, and that’s through the cross of Jesus Christ. If it had been possible that man could be saved by any other means, then Jesus would not have gone to the cross. If it’s possible, Father, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, and here is that beautiful submitting, now what I will but Thy will be done.” [52]

 

Jesus said:

  • Matthew 7:13-14 - “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. [53]

Jesus said He was, is and always will be that “gate,” or “door,” that, “way”:

  • John 10:7-10 – “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.8 “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  [54]
  • John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  [55]

Any alternative sought for salvation other than by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, is a slap in the face of Jesus and a diminishing of the incredible perseverance in love that drove Jesus to the cross.

Monstrous Perversion Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:47-56 – “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.”49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.50 But Jesus said to him, Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.”[56]

Notice, even at this point Jesus refers to Judas as a friend, (“Friend, why have you come?”26:50). Jesus is still keeping the door open for repentance, for friendship. Judas slams the door and he does so with the unholiest of kisses. Betraying Jesus with a kiss, what was considered the greeting of a friend, was a monstrously perverted way to desecrate the friendship offered by Jesus to Judas.

Furthermore, this too was a prediction given centuries before as the psalmist wrote:

  • Psalm 41:9 – “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”  [57]

Though Jesus was betrayed by a “friend,” He persevered.

Meek in Power Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:51-56 – “And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.53 “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?54 “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.56 “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”  [58]

Jesus could have called down “twelve legions”  (26:53), of angels to His defense, but He persevered in His mission.  A legion consisted of 6,000 soldiers. Twelve legions consisted therefore of about 72,000 angels. In the Old Testament a single angel of God wiped out 185,000 Babylonians (2 Kings 19:35). Jesus had quite a force at His disposal. But He remained meek. Meekness is strength under control. Jesus persevered in meekness, controlling His power so that He could complete His mission of redemption.

Furthermore, He perseveres with the purpose of seeing the Scriptures fulfilled (26:56). This is one of the most important aspects of Jesus’ mission, the fulfillment of Scripture. Over and over again we see Jesus refer to the Scripture and it’s fulfillment (Matthew 3:15; 4:4,7,10; “You have heard” – 5:21,27,33,38,43; 7:24; 10:35-36; 11:10,13,17; 12:3,5,7,40-42; 13:14-15; 15:3-9; 18:16; 19:4-5, 18-19; 21:13,16,42; 22:29,32, 37-40, 43-45; 23:39; 24:15,35; 26:31,54,56; 27:46). Indeed Jesus said from the start of His ministry:

  • Matthew 5:17-18 - “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” [59]

Matthew is a gospel that repeatedly emphasizes the fulfillment of Scripture (Matthew 1:22; 2:15,17,23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:9,35). Jesus’ mission was to fulfill Scripture and it’s requirements because it is the word of God and truth. Disciple, we should hold the Scriptures in as high regard as Jesus did.

Misquoted and Persecuted Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:57-68 – “And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ ”62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”64 Jesus said to him, It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!66 “What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands,68 saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?” [60]

Though led away as a common criminal (26:55,57); though followed by Peter at a distance because he feared being discovered as one of His disciples (26:58); though false testimony was trumped up against Him (26:59-60); though He was grossly misquoted (26:61); and though the charge and sentence were predetermined by evil men (26:62); He kept silent and only spoke when oath (26:63). Though His prophecy was rejected as blasphemy Jesus persevered in His mission (26:64-65). Jesus was falsely accused, misquoted, and persecuted by the religious leaders. He was spit upon, beaten and mocked by them  (26:66-68). Yet throughout it all He persevered in His redemptive mission.

Illegalities

The Sanhedrin and religious leaders who orchestrated the trial of Jesus disregarded the very law they claimed to uphold. There were a host of illegalities in the trial of Jesus. The following is a short list of some of these illegalities:

  • Binding a prisoner before sentence unless he resisted. Jesus did not resist his captors (John 18:12,24).
  • Judges were not supposed to take part in the arrest of the accused (Matthew 26:47; John 18:3).
  • No legal transactions or trials were allowed at night by law (Matthew 26:20; John 18:28).
  • Arrests were not to be made through informants (Exodus 23:6-8; Matthew 26:14-16, 48-50;John 18:5).
  • While a person could be acquitted the same day, any other sentences were required to wait until the next day (Matthew 26:65-66).
  • Judges were supposed to see that the rights of the accused were protected (John 18:14). Yet false witnesses and witnesses that contradicted each other were accepted (Matthew 26:59-60). The judges did not oppose violence against the accused (Matthew 26:67-68).
  • It was illegal to carry weapons on a feast day (Matthew 26:55; John 18:3). 
  • No witness was ever called for the defense.
  • The Court didn’t have authority to condemn to death (John 18:31).
  • It was illegal to conduct court on a feast day (Matthew 26:1-2; John 18:28).
  • The sentence was passed in the high priests home but it was required by law that a sentence must be passed in the Temple (Matthew 26:57-59; John 18:28).

There are more inconsistencies in the trial of Jesus, but the important point is that even though His accusers broke the law to get at Him, He persevered in His mission.

It would have been easy for Jesus to throw up His hands in frustration when faced with willful twisting of the Scriptures and His words. When people manipulate the word of God in an attempt to falsify the truth to their own gain, it can be frustrating to the point of exhausting one’s perseverance. But this did not deter Jesus in the least. He pressed on. Disciples, we can learn a lot from Jesus perseverance here because the twisting and manipulation of Scriptures by cults and false teachers has continued in history and is prevalent in our day.

An example of Scripture twisting

A modern day example of such Scripture twisting is found in the Watchtower and Tract Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses whose Bible translation, the New World Translation, is a subjective mistranslation of the Bible to support their false doctrines. Ron Rhodes in his book 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness states:

The New World Translation is inaccurate, misleading, and heavily biased in favor of Watchtower Society theology. Indeed, this translation is worded in such a way that it virtually strips Jesus of His absolute deity . . . the Watchtower Society teaches that the Father God is God Almighty while Jesus is a lesser god . . . . Respected biblical linguists have given a universal ‘thumbs down’ to the New World Translation. Consider:

  • Dr. Julius Mantey, author of a manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, calls the New World Translation ‘a shocking mistranslation.’
  • Dr. Bruce Metzger, late professor of New Testament at Princeton University, calls the New World Translation ‘a frightful mistranslation,’ ‘erroneous,’ ‘pernicious,’ and ‘ reprehensible.’ . . .

Rhodes goes on to say, “the translators of the New World Translation were not biblical linguists. . . Four of the five men in the committee had no Hebrew or Greek training whatsoever. In fact, they had only high school educations. The fifth – Fred Franz – claimed to know Hebrew and Greek, but upon examination under oath in a court of law in Edinburgh, Scotland, he failed a simple Hebrew test.”[61]

An example of the mistranslation in the NWT is found in their translation of Colossians 1:16-17 which is accurately translated in the New King James Version as:

  • Colossians 1:16-17 – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” [62]

The NWT inserts the word “other” brackets after the word “all” in order to give the impression that Jesus is created first and then the Father used Jesus to create “all [other] things.” The only problem with that is that in the original Greek text the word “all” is translated from the Greek term PANTA (from PAS – Strong’s #3956) which means, “all, any, every, the whole.[63] Colossians 1:16-17 teaches that JESUS CREATED ALL THINGS, and therefore He could not be created Himself. What is interesting is that in the 1950 version of the NWT the word “other” was inserted without brackets giving the impression that it was in the original language. It was only after an outcry from evangelical scholars that the added words of the NWT were put in brackets in the 1961 version.

Another point to make here is that in Isaiah it states:

  • Isaiah 44:24 – “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;”  [64]

If, according to Isaiah 44:24, the LORD (YHWH) “makes all things,” with the grammatical emphasis on “by Myself,” and creating, “all alone,” then when we correlate Colossians 1:16-17 with this we have a clear teaching of the deity of Jesus; Jesus is God. Other such Old Testament to New Testament links showing Jesus as God are: Jesus and Yahweh referred to as “I Am” – John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14; Jesus and Yahweh “pierced” on the cross – Revelation 1:7 and Zechariah 12:10; Jesus and Yahweh’s glory linked – John 12:41 and Isaiah 6:1-5; and Jesus and Yahweh have similar voices – Revelation 1:15 and Ezekiel 43:2.

Even though the bible is misquoted and twisted by false teachers, the disciple should persevere as his or her Master did. Thomas doubted Jesus’ resurrection and almost gave up, but Jesus appeared to him and invited him to touch and feel Him for himself. Thomas’ exclamation is the exclamation and testimony of the entire Bible. Thomas said:

  • John 20:28 – “And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” [65]

This verse is unmistakably a testimony to the deity of Jesus. The Greek of this sentence actually states, “The Lord of me and the God of me.” Disciple, persevere in the truth even though there are those who misquote and persecute. [66]

“I don’t Know The Man!” Yet Jesus Persevered

Matthew 26:69-75 – “Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying,I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.”  [67]

In Luke’s account we are given the added information that Peter’s denials were made in the presence of Jesus. In Luke it states:

  • Luke 22:55-62 – “Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”  [68]

We often focus on the depth of sin of Peter’s betraying remarks and his bitter weeping afterward, but what of Jesus feelings? What do you think Jesus was feeling when the one who had just hours before had boasted of His allegiance even unto death (Matthew 26:33), now not only betrays Him in word three times, but also does so in curses (Matthew 26:74)? Jesus knew that Peter would betray Him with all the other disciples, but knowing it didn’t make it any easier. What do you think Jesus felt when one of His inner core disciples, one who He not only spent three close years in ministry with, but who saw His transfiguration and Him raise the dead; what do you think He felt when that disciple said, “I do not know the Man!” Those words had to have had a cutting and emotionally wounding affect on Jesus. “I do not know the Man!” couldn’t Peter have chosen other words. Jesus had spent His life with this man Peter. Yes, the denial must have had a deeply cutting affect on the heart of Jesus. Jesus must have been deeply saddened by the disciple’s betrayals and because He knew they would be bitterly sorrowful over their failures, but He persevered nonetheless.

How about you? When people ask you about God, about what you believe, do your words and actions duplicate the words, “I do not know the Man!”? Jesus persevered to the cross for you, to save your soul. Disciple, isn’t it time you acknowledge you know the Man Jesus, if indeed you do? Think about that.

Hope to persevere

Peter said, “I do not know the Man!” the cock crowed, the Master glanced and then he wept bitterly. He bitter weeping was because at that moment he experienced the worst failure of a disciple, he denied His Master. As a disciple Peter had failed. Maybe you have walked the same steps as Peter. Maybe you have failed your Master. Maybe you are at a place of bitter weeping. The story doesn’t’ end there.

Peter was forgiven and reinstated as one of the leading disciples. That should give you hope. That is the good news of the cross; Jesus paid the penalty for every sin on the cross, even the sin of rejection. Because Jesus persevered to the cross, you can be forgiven, your sins can be wiped clean, you can be reinstated, and you can persevere. Sin and death were dealt a fatal blow on the cross. Because Jesus persevered, there is hope and where there is hope, you can persevere. 

Conclusion

Matthew 26 is a vivid depiction of the perseverance of Jesus in His redemptive mission. We have seen Jesus persevere in the face of prophecy which points to His own sacrificial death (26:1-2), a murder plot against Him (26:3-5), misguided priorities of disciples who had no heart for worship (26:6-13), perverse lust for money (26:14-16), a difficult meal with a purpose and prediction that must have been very difficult for Jesus to state (26:17-35), a painful midnight prayer time (26:36-46), a betrayal (26:47-50), desertion by all his disciples (26:51-56), a unlawful trial with trumped up charges, misquotes, and humiliating treatment (26:57-75). Jesus persevered through all of this.

The importance of Jesus’ perseverance is seen in the two cups mentioned in this chapter. The cup of the New Covenant Jesus referred to in the Passover meal (26:27-28) is the cup of salvation for us. It is a cup that holds the blood of Jesus shed for the remission of our sins. The blood of the New Covenant that Jesus mentions in these verses refers to His mission to die on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice. On the cross Jesus would drink from another cup, the second cup mentioned in Matthew 26, the cup of the righteous fury and wrath of God against sin. On the cross Jesus drank from this cup in our place. The sinless, blameless, perfect Man, who knew no sin and indeed always did only the will of the Father, it was He that took on himself the outpoured wrath of God to satisfy God’s justice.

I once taught at a youth camp and if you’ve ever been around teenage youth you know that they enjoy doing things that “normal” people would never think of doing. I remember one activity that the youth at this camp did which illustrates in part Jesus drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. The activity involved about six young people coming up in front of the rest of the group. Each young person is given a toothbrush with toothpaste on it. While they are each given a toothbrush to brush their teeth with, there is only one glass filled with water to rinse with. The first person brushes their teeth (usually with a large gob of toothpaste on their brush) and then rinses with the water from the glass and then spits the rinse back into the glass. That doesn’t seem too bad does it? Well, at least not for the first person, but the next person brushes too, and then rinses with the water that the first person used to rinse with! Now this would be bad enough, but the same procedure is followed on down the line by each person, brush, rinse, pass it on. But the best (worst?) is yet to come. When it comes time for the last person to brush and rinse, instead of spitting the used rinse back into the glass, THE LAST PERSON DRINKS THE RINSE WATER THAT HAS BEEN USED BY THE FIVE PERSONS THAT PRECEEDED THEM! The last person drinks the dregs of the rinse water down fully as the rest of the youth gleefully cheer them on. It’s all great fun for the youth, for others it is enough to make one gag!

But here’s the point, as awful and disgusting and repulsive as the rinse water was to drink, it doesn’t even come close to illustrating the dregs of the wine of the wrath of God that Jesus drank on the cross. Jesus who never sinned and knew no sin, took on Himself the dregs of the sin of all humanity for all time. And on the cross Jesus drank every last drop for you and for me. Thus, when we see the premeditated murder plot of the religious leaders, the selfish greed of Judas, the cowardly betrayals of the disciples, the illegalities, the mocking and murder in these last three chapters, we see the dregs of the cup of the wrath of God that is rightfully poured out on such sin and we also see that Jesus drank the full cup of such wrath so that those who sin in such ways can find forgiveness for their sin through faith in Christ by God’s gracious provision in Christ.

Because Jesus persevered through to the end, there is salvation available for us. When we look at our Master and Lord Jesus, and we see what He persevered through, it puts our problems into perspective. Disciple, your Master persevered for you, He left you an example to follow, not to gain salvation or even reward, but simply because the love of Christ compels us, that loving appreciation for His persevering work. Because Jesus persevered, so can you; you can let Him work in and through you to the end. Disciple, that is your calling.

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51] Newsday, 3/23/03 Part 2, B1 and B2.

[52] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8026

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]Ron Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness,Eugene, OR: Harvest House Pubs. 2001) pgs. 24-25

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66] Ron Rhodes, Ibid. p. 30. this verse is also important  as a response to the JW claim that since there is no definite article in John 1:1 referring to the “Word was God,” then the Word, Jesus is then “a god.” But Greek grammar does not require a definite article and whether or not a definitie article is present or not does not change the meaning of “God” (Greek THEOS). In John 20:28 Thomas’ words are ho theos, and therefore even by JW claims Jesus is referred to unmistakably as “God.”

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.