Red Thread of the Bible 11c: The death of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25)

Red Thread of the Bible 11c: The death of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25)

sermon Gospel of Matthew 25 : Patrice Berger, 2022_12_29, AB Lausanne church

title : Red Thread of the Bible 11c: The death of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25)

Red Thread of the Bible 11c: The death of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25)

The opponents of Jesus thought to finish him off by putting him to death. Did they achieve it?

The disciples want to save their lives! As Jesus announces his approaching death, his disciples find nothing better to do than to argue over which of them will sit on his right and on his left in his Kingdom. And while they had promised him unfailing loyalty, they shatter their commitment as soon as the situation becomes critical. Betrayal, passivity, flight, curiosity, denial, violence, personal ambition… Despite all their goodwill, even having lived alongside Jesus, human beings remain incapable of remaining attached to God, since they broke their trust in their Creator. Man seeks selfishly to save what is most precious to him: his life!

Jesus comes to give his life: In response to this survival instinct, Jesus affirms on the contrary that he came to give his life as a ransom for many. For Jesus, his death is the goal of his mission so that “the Scriptures may be fulfilled”. Even if all human reactions of suffering, apprehension and struggle are very present in Jesus, he advances towards an acceptance of his mission thanks to his dependence on God. In such a situation, only a perfect man like Jesus could overcome the weaknesses of his humanity, thanks to his unwavering trust in God.

Unjust Conviction for Just Cause: Legally, Jesus did nothing wrong, and the hastily thrown out false evidence against him is unconvincing. Moreover, the three official authorities of the time, which one cannot accuse of connivance because they hate each other, all confirm that the life of Jesus is exemplary. To find a reason to condemn him to death, the religious leaders are forced to come to question Jesus about his identity. Yes, Jesus claims to be the son of God. And a few days before, he demonstrated his divinity: The Almighty over Death, by bringing his friend Lazarus back to life!

His blood shed for humanity: The whole story could pass for a classic miscarriage of justice. But voluntarily, Jesus has just given his life: the turn of events is the one that God had wanted. Such was God’s plan to save mankind. The Bible affirms that by killing the son of God, his executioners “do not know what they are doing”. They are accomplishing what the whole universe has been waiting for since Genesis 3. This is why, even by possessing legitimacy and the means to assert his rights, Jesus does not seek to defend himself. On the contrary, he remains faithful to his identity until the end, healing his attackers, forgiving his executioners, and allowing himself to be crucified.

The Final Passover: While several significant events in history happen on the same day, at different times, the similarities between the Passover feast established by God as a means of liberation from slavery in Egypt and the death of Jesus are troubling:

• They take place on the same calendar day,

• In the same context of imminent judgment announced by John the Baptist,

• With the same solution: the sacrifice of a victim whose blood has the power to protect those who believe in his sacrifice from the judgment of God. While a lamb freed all who trusted in the promise of freedom from slavery in Egypt, Jesus, “the Lamb of God” is offered to restore the relationship between man and the Creator.

All is accomplished: The death of Jesus, this perfect Man/God, and his life offered by the shedding of his blood are the only culmination of the rescue plan offered by God and promised to humanity. Also, Jesus can end his life by affirming that “It is finished”! As proof, the veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom. This veil, which separated the presence of God and that of Man, is now useless. And this reconciliation is not the work of Man, but of God, who can now, thanks to the death of Jesus, break what separated men from their Creator. From now on, Man is no longer forced to be separated from God; he has the freedom to make a choice!

Stand in front of Jesus: On the same day and in the same place, two dangerous criminals suffer the same death sentence as Jesus. One of the two considers this situation as an opportunity to be saved: he tries to save himself; thus, he encourages Jesus to lose sight of His objective, pushing Jesus to the spectacular. The thief’s selfish attempt, and his stubbornness, lead him to his final loss: he dies without being reconciled with God by Jesus. The second, seeing Jesus at his side recognizes him as King of the universe and accepts his authority! By placing his trust in the work of Jesus, he obtains a free and undeserved rescue, receiving from the very mouth of Jesus a direct confirmation that reconciliation with God is possible irrespective of his CV! “You will be with me today in paradise”. When Jesus knows he is going to die; yet he also speaks as if he were still alive! Can Jesus conquer death?

The whole life of Jesus is beyond us in quality and capacity. Are there other equivalents in the history of humanity?

Biblical texts: Available in Darby online: Matthew 26-27 (below), Mark 10, Luke 23 and John 19.

Matthew 26 / Darby

1. And it came to pass when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples,
2. Ye know that after two days the passover takes place, and the Son of man is delivered up to be crucified.
3. Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together to the palace of the high priest who was called Caiaphas,
4. and took counsel together in order that they might seize Jesus by subtlety and kill him;
5. but they said, Not in the feast, that there be not a tumult among the people.
6. But Jesus being in Bethany, in Simon the leper's house,
7. a woman, having an alabaster flask of very precious ointment, came to him and poured it out upon his head as he lay at table.
8. But the disciples seeing it became indignant, saying, To what end [was] this waste?
9. for this might have been sold for much and been given to the poor.
10. But Jesus knowing [it] said to them, Why do ye trouble the woman? for she has wrought a good work toward me.
11. For ye have the poor always with you, but me ye have not always.
12. For in pouring out this ointment on my body, she has done it for my burying.
13. Verily I say to you, Wheresoever these glad tidings may be preached in the whole world, that also which this [woman] has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
14. Then one of the twelve, he who was called Judas Iscariote, went to the chief priests
15. and said, What are ye willing to give me, and *I* will deliver him up to you? And they appointed to him thirty pieces of silver.
16. And from that time he sought a good opportunity that he might deliver him up.
17. Now on the first [day] of [the feast of] unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
18. And he said, Go into the city unto such a one, and say to him, The Teacher says, My time is near, I will keep the passover in thy house with my disciples.
19. And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the passover.
20. And when the evening was come he lay down at table with the twelve.
21. And as they were eating he said, Verily I say to you, that one of you shall deliver me up.
22. And being exceedingly grieved they began to say to him, each of them, Is it *I*, Lord?
23. But he answering said, He that dips his hand with me in the dish, *he* it is who shall deliver me up.
24. The Son of man goes indeed, according as it is written concerning him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is delivered up; it were good for that man if he had not been born.
25. And Judas, who delivered him up, answering said, Is it *I*, Rabbi? He says to him, *Thou* hast said.
26. And as they were eating, Jesus, having taken [the] bread and blessed, broke [it] and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
27. And having taken [the] cup and given thanks, he gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.
28. For this is my blood, that of the [new] covenant, that shed for many for remission of sins.
29. But I say to you, that I will not at all drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.
30. And having sung a hymn, they went out to the mount of Olives.
31. Then saith Jesus to them, All *ye* shall be offended in me during this night. For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32. But after that I shall be risen, I will go before you to Galilee.
33. And Peter answering said to him, If all shall be offended in thee, *I* will never be offended.
34. Jesus said to him, Verily I say to thee, that during this night, before [the] cock shall crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35. Peter says to him, If I should needs die with thee, I will in no wise deny thee. Likewise said all the disciples also.
36. Then Jesus comes with them to a place called Gethsemane, and says to the disciples, Sit here until I go away and pray yonder.
37. And taking with [him] Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and deeply depressed.
38. Then he says to them, My soul is very sorrowful even unto death; remain here and watch with me.
39. And going forward a little he fell upon his face, praying and saying, My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; but not as *I* will, but as *thou* [wilt].
40. And he comes to the disciples and finds them sleeping, and says to Peter, Thus ye have not been able to watch one hour with me?
41. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] ready, but the flesh weak.
42. Again going away a second time he prayed saying, My Father, if this cannot pass [from me] unless I drink it, thy will be done.
43. And coming he found them again sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.
44. And leaving them, he went away again and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45. Then he comes to the disciples and says to them, Sleep on now and take your rest; behold, the hour has drawn nigh, and the Son of man is delivered up into the hands of sinners.
46. Arise, let us go; behold, he that delivers me up has drawn nigh.
47. And while he was yet speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great crowd with swords and sticks from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48. Now he that delivered him up had given them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, he it is: seize him.
49. And immediately coming up to Jesus he said, Hail, Rabbi, and covered him with kisses.
50. But Jesus said to him, [My] friend, for what purpose art thou come? Then coming up they laid hands upon Jesus and seized him.
51. And behold, one of those with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and smiting the bondman of the high priest took off his ear.
52. Then saith Jesus to him, Return thy sword to its place; for all who take the sword shall perish by the sword.
53. Or thinkest thou that I cannot now call upon my Father, and he will furnish me more than twelve legions of angels?
54. How then should the scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?
55. In that hour Jesus said to the crowds, Are ye come out as against a robber with swords and sticks to take me? I sat daily [with you] teaching in the temple, and ye did not seize me.
56. But all this is come to pass that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him and fled.
57. Now they that had seized Jesus led [him] away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
58. And Peter followed him at a distance, even to the palace of the high priest, and entering in sat with the officers to see the end.
59. And the chief priests and the elders and the whole sanhedrim sought false witness against Jesus, so that they might put him to death.
60. And they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. But at the last two false witnesses came forward
61. and said, *He* said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and in three days build it.
62. And the high priest standing up said to him, Answerest thou nothing? What do these witness against thee?
63. But Jesus was silent. And the high priest answering said to him, I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us if *thou* art the Christ the Son of God.
64. Jesus says to him, *Thou* hast said. Moreover, I say to you, From henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.
65. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He has blasphemed: what need have we any more of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard the blasphemy.
66. What think ye? And they answering said, He is liable to the penalty of death.
67. Then they spit in his face, and buffeted him, and some struck him with the palms of their hand,
68. saying, Prophesy to us, Christ, Who is it who struck thee?
69. But Peter sat without in the palace-court; and a maid came to him, saying, And *thou* wast with Jesus the Galilaean.
70. But he denied before all, saying, I do not know what thou sayest.
71. And when he had gone out into the entrance, another [maid] saw him, and says to those there, This [man] also was with Jesus the Nazaraean.
72. And again he denied with an oath: I do not know the man.
73. And after a little, those who stood [there], coming to [him], said to Peter, Truly *thou* too art of them, for also thy speech makes thee manifest.
74. Then he began to curse and to swear, I know not the man. And immediately [the] cock crew.
75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, who had said [to him], Before [the] cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went forth without, and wept bitterly.

Matthew 27 / Darby

1. And when it was morning all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus so that they might put him to death.
2. And having bound him they led him away, and delivered him up to Pontius Pilate, the governor.
3. Then Judas, who delivered him up, seeing that he had been condemned, filled with remorse, returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,
4. saying, I have sinned [in] having delivered up guiltless blood. But they said, What is that to us? see *thou* [to that].
5. And having cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, he left the place, and went away and hanged himself.
6. And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, It is not lawful to cast them into the Corban, since it is [the] price of blood.
7. And having taken counsel, they bought with them the field of the potter for a burying-ground for strangers.
8. Wherefore that field has been called Blood-field unto this day.
9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremias the prophet, saying, And I took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was set a price on, whom [they who were] of the sons of Israel had set a price on,
10. and they gave them for the field of the potter, according as [the] Lord commanded me.
11. But Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor questioned him, saying, Art *thou* the King of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, Thou sayest.
12. And when he was accused of the chief priests and the elders, he answered nothing.
13. Then says Pilate to him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
14. And he answered him not so much as one word, so that the governor wondered exceedingly.
15. Now at [the] feast the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, whom they would.
16. And they had then a notable prisoner, named Barabbas.
17. They therefore being gathered together, Pilate said to them, Whom will ye that I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?
18. For he knew that they had delivered him up through envy.
19. But, as he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent to him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that righteous [man]; for I have suffered to-day many things in a dream because of him.
20. But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds that they should beg for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21. And the governor answering said to them, Which of the two will ye that I release unto you? And they said, Barabbas.
22. Pilate says to them, What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? They all say, Let him be crucified.
23. And the governor said, What evil then has he done? But they cried more than ever, saying, Let him be crucified.
24. And Pilate, seeing that it availed nothing, but that rather a tumult was arising, having taken water, washed his hands before the crowd, saying, I am guiltless of the blood of this righteous one: see *ye* [to it].
25. And all the people answering said, His blood [be] on us and on our children.
26. Then he released to them Barabbas; but Jesus, having scourged [him], he delivered up that he might be crucified.
27. Then the soldiers of the governor, having taken Jesus with [them] to the praetorium, gathered against him the whole band,
28. and having taken off his garment, put on him a scarlet cloak;
29. and having woven a crown out of thorns, they put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and, bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30. And having spit upon him, they took the reed and beat [him] on his head.
31. And when they had mocked him, they took the cloak off him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify.
32. And as they went forth they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to go [with them] that he might bear his cross.
33. And having come to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a skull,
34. they gave to him to drink vinegar mingled with gall; and having tasted [it], he would not drink.
35. And having crucified him, they parted his clothes amongst [themselves], casting lots.
36. And sitting down, they kept guard over him there.
37. And they set up over his head his accusation written: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
38. Then are crucified with him two robbers, one on the right hand and one on the left.
39. But the passers-by reviled him, shaking their heads
40. and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou art Son of God, descend from the cross.
41. [And] in like manner the chief priests also, mocking, with the scribes and elders, said,
42. He saved others, himself he cannot save. He is King of Israel: let him descend now from the cross, and we will believe on him.
43. He trusted upon God; let him save him now if he will [have] him. For he said, I am Son of God.
44. And the robbers also who had been crucified with him cast the same reproaches on him.
45. Now from [the] sixth hour there was darkness over the whole land until [the] ninth hour;
46. but about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
47. And some of those who stood there, when they heard [it], said, This [man] calls for Elias.
48. And immediately one of them running and getting a sponge, having filled [it] with vinegar and fixed [it] on a reed, gave him to drink.
49. But the rest said, Let be; let us see if Elias comes to save him.
50. And Jesus, having again cried with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.
51. And lo, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were rent,
52. and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints fallen asleep arose,
53. and going out of the tombs after his arising, entered into the holy city and appeared unto many.
54. But the centurion, and they who were with him on guard over Jesus, seeing the earthquake and the things that took place, feared greatly, saying, Truly this [man] was Son of God.
55. And there were there many women beholding from afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee ministering to him,
56. among whom was Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
57. Now when even was come there came a rich man of Arimathaea, his name Joseph, who also himself was a disciple to Jesus.
58. *He*, going to Pilate, begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given up.
59. And Joseph having got the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60. and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn in the rock; and having rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, went away.
61. But Mary of Magdala was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the sepulchre.
62. Now on the morrow, which is after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate,
63. saying, Sir, we have called to mind that that deceiver said when he was still alive, After three days I arise.
64. Command therefore that the sepulchre be secured until the third day, lest his disciples should come and steal him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead; and the last error shall be worse than the first.
65. And Pilate said to them, Ye have a watch: go, secure it as well as ye know how.
66. And they went and secured the sepulchre, having sealed the stone, with the watch [besides].

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Study Notes are translated from the original French and available in the online magazine  TaJeunesse (literlly “Your Youth”). The orginal texts are magazine articles. The texts provided here follow that form and include some of the images from the magazine, and help provide a deep understanding of the main themes of the Bible.

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