How should Christians handle opposition and false accusations?
The final hours of Jesus’ life culminates with more significant events than we’ll have time to cover in this one lesson. There is no doubt that each scene is worth much Biblical meditation and reflection. But looming over all of these is Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and ultimate death.
Matthew 26:1-30—Preparations for His Death:
Matthew juxtaposes three stories: the woman’s costly gift at Simon’s house, Judas’ plans, and Jesus’ final Passover meal with His disciples in the upper room.
How are these events related, and how do they escalate the conflict in Matthew’s narrative? What is the importance of the Passover (“pasca”=suffering) for the story? Is the Passover still meant to be kept as the Jews have, or did Jesus institute a “new” ordinance in its place?
Matthew 26:31-27:25—Gethsemane, Arrest and Trial
After retiring to the Mount of Olives again after the meal, Jesus warns the disciples that they will fall away, and that Peter would deny him.
Why was the Gethsemane experience so difficult for Jesus? How did His disciples view it, having no real foreknowledge of the next few hours?
The arrest of Jesus comes at night, in secret, to steal Him away. How is this a fulfillment of Jesus’ teachings throughout His ministry?
Peter’s denial occupies some space in Matthew’s story. Why is this event highlighted during Jesus’ last hours before He dies?
Describe Jesus’ response to His accusers throughout His trial. What model does He serve for us when we are accused falsely, put in difficult places, or challenged publically?
The crucifixion that follows these events garners the expected emphasis when we talk about the Passion Week, but we must not minimize how important are these closing scenes that lead to Jesus’ death. The physical pain to come is exacerbated by the psychological, spiritual, emotional, and social pain of abandonment and rejection Jesus faces starting in Gethsemane and throughout His trial. Oh that we might handle trials as Jesus did!