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Judas Hangs Himself October 20, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 27:1-10.

Summary: In this passage, the Sanhedrin formally votes against Jesus at sunrise. They then take Him to Pontius Pilate, as they lack the legal authority to execute Him.

When Judas sees that Jesus has been condemned to judgment, he feels sad and attempts to return the money that he has received from the chief priests, asserting that he has sinned in betraying an innocent man.

The chief priests are indifferent to Judas’ sadness, though. He responds by going to the Holy Place and throwing down his silver coins in angry defiance. He then hangs himself.

The chief priests know that these silver coins were illegitimately paid to kill Jesus; thus, they cannot be put in the temple treasury. Instead, the chief priests use these silver coins to purchase a potter’s field where Gentiles could be buried – thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Zechariah 11:12-13.

Thoughts: In verses 9 and 10, Matthew notes that when the chief priests use Judas’ silver coins to purchase a potter’s field, they fulfill a prophecy of Jeremiah – not Zechariah. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

It is a great and undeniable difficulty, that the words quoted as having been used by “Jeremiah the prophet” are not to be found in any writings of Jeremiah that we possess, and that they are found in the prophet Zechariah…A question of this sort, which has puzzled many interpreters, is not likely to be settled at this date.

In John MacArthur’s sermon on this passage, he notes:

But it is a direct prophecy from Zechariah. You can’t make it fit into Jeremiah. The category of the prophets in rabbinic tradition, in rabbinic manuscripts and in the Talmud is always headed by the book of Jeremiah. So to a Jew the three sections of the Old Testament would be the law, Jeremiah and the Psalms. So when the writer refers to Jeremiah, he is simply taking the name that was at the top of the prophetic roll…

MacArthur appears to furnish a straightforward explanation of this issue; thus, I am curious as to how this explanation eluded Ryle. Have there been nontrivial advances in Biblical scholarship since the 19th century, enabling modern expositors such as MacArthur to resolve baffling details in Scripture? Did Ryle grasp the concept of “authorial intent” as it relates to the Old Testament? Did Matthew actually commit an error when writing this passage? Is MacArthur’s explanation of this issue actually correct? I anticipate meeting Matthew, Ryle and MacArthur at some point and probing them on this issue.


Jesus Arrested October 12, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 26:47-56.

Summary: In this passage, Judas appears at the Garden of Gethsemane; he is joined by a great multitude carrying daggers and nightsticks. As they need to identify Jesus in order to arrest Him, Judas affectionately kisses Him.

Jesus responds by addressing him as “fellow” and telling him to carry out his act of betrayal. He is then seized by the great multitude.

Peter responds by using his dagger to slice off the ear of Malchus, a servant of Caiaphas.

Jesus responds by:

  • commanding Peter to put away his dagger, as those who kill others will be executed
  • stating that He has actually refrained from calling on His Father for more than 72000 angels – as He must allow Himself to be arrested in order to fulfill the Scriptures
  • asserting that since He was not arrested while He taught in the temple, the chief priests and the elders are now guilty of wrongful arrest – thereby fulfilling the Scriptures.

His disciples respond by fleeing.

Thoughts: Here, Jesus resists the temptation to call on His Father to rescue Him from His enemies. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

He was not taken captive because he could not escape: it would have been easy for him to scatter his enemies to the winds if he had thought fit…He came on purpose to fulfill the patterns and promises of Old Testament Scriptures and, by fulfilling them, to provide salvation for the world. He came intentionally to be the true Lamb of God, the Passover Lamb.

When I strolled through this passage, I pondered the possibility of Jesus actually calling on His Father for assistance – and then working with a plethora of angels to defeat His enemies. This spurred me to ponder the following questions:

  • is this passage similar to Matthew 4:1-11, since both passages caused me to ponder the fact that Jesus is both divine and human?
  • if Jesus had actually disobeyed His Father in this instance, what would have been the effect on the intimacy of the Trinity?
  • if Jesus had actually disobeyed His Father in this instance, did God have an alternate plan for saving sinful humanity?

These questions do not have simple answers; even pondering them is unpleasant. Thus, as believers, we should be eternally grateful to Jesus that He chose the immeasurably difficult path of obedience in this instance. Indeed, He sought long-term rewards and eschewed short-term benefits; we must pray that we can hew to His example in this regard.

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus September 28, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 26:14-16.

Summary: In this passage, Judas (from the region of Kerioth) goes to the chief priests and sets up his betrayal of Jesus. After bargaining for thirty pieces of silver, he spends a week planning his heinous act.

Thoughts: This passage sharpens the contrast between the righteousness of Jesus and the unrighteousness of all others. Here, Judas reveals his unrighteousness by willingly betraying his Lord. Indeed, Judas had spent the last three years with Jesus – observing His miracles, hearing His sermons, and sharing in his private teachings. Essentially, he learned how to live righteously before God during that wonderful period. Yet he grew disillusioned with Jesus and eventually betrayed Him. As modern-day believers, we are tempted to view Judas with an air of superiority – yet we must not fall into this trap. Indeed, we are also in danger of growing disillusioned with our Savior, and so we need His grace on a daily basis.

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas April 5, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 1:12-26.

Summary: In this passage, the eleven apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, and they joined other believers in fervent prayer. Peter then declared that:

  • the betrayal of Jesus by Judas occurred in order to fulfill a prediction in Psalm 69:25
  • Judas must be replaced by another apostle in order to fulfill a prediction in Psalm 109:8.

In particular, the believers needed to select an apostle who could attest to the earthly ministry of Jesus – including His resurrection. They then called upon the Lord for His guidance in this matter – by casting lots between two men: Joseph and Matthias. God selected Matthias as the replacement for Judas.

Thoughts: In verse 14, we see that the believers in Jerusalem devoted themselves to prayer. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

From this we learn that true faith is faith that stirs us up to pray to God. The assurance that faith gives is quite different from laziness. God does not assure us that we have his grace so that we may at once become careless, but so that he may give us a keener desire to pray. Prayer is not a sign of doubting but is a witness to our certain hope and confidence, since we ask the Lord for things that we know he has promised.

The prayers of these believers are inspiring; they likely desired the arrival of the Holy Spirit – since Christ had now departed from their midst. While my prayer life has improved over the last few years, I definitely have a lot of room for improvement in this regard. In particular, I need to pray with more confidence that God would help me to comprehend His ways – especially when my other prayer requests are not answered according to my timing. I should note that I often present prayer requests that should be pleasing in His sight (e.g. world peace), yet I often grow discouraged when these requests are not answered, causing me to question Him and His ways. Thus, I need to pray that He would help me to grow in my understanding of His ways and continue to place my trust in Him.

In verses 23-26, we see that the believers in Jerusalem – based on God’s direction – selected Matthias as the twelfth apostle. Calvin offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 26:

We may infer that Matthias was not rated as highly as Joseph. Not only does Luke name Joseph first, but his two surnames show that he was held in great respect. He was called Barsabbas, which means “the son of an oath or of rest,” as if he were a mirror of faithfulness and innocence or of a quiet and unassuming nature. His other name, Justus, implied outstanding honesty. But God chose Matthias.

How did the believers in Jerusalem select Joseph and Matthias as the two candidates to replace Judas? Were there male disciples outside of the Twelve who were particularly close to Jesus during His earthly ministry? How did Joseph and Matthias distinguish themselves during Jesus’ earthly ministry? Was Joseph actually rated more highly than Matthias by the believers in Jerusalem? How did Joseph respond when God selected Matthias? Where did Matthias preach the Gospel message, and what fruit did he bear in the process? I am eager to meet Joseph and Matthias in the next life and learn about their earthly lives.