Exodus 29:1-30:10 ~ Matthew 26:14-46 ~ Psalm 31:19-24 ~ Proverbs 8:14-26
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Old Testament - Today in Exodus chapter 29 we read about the dedication of Aaron and his sons as priests!
Verse 37 stood out to me in this chapter: "After that, the altar will be exceedingly holy, and whatever touches it will become holy." It's interesting to consider the verses prior to this - with the 7 days of sacrifices of young bulls. For some reason this verse reminded me of Jesus and how people could simply touch the tassels of his robes and they would be healed. I think it's fair to say that Jesus was much more holy than this altar was - and Jesus did not require purification rituals or sacrificing of bulls to make Jesus holy, as this altar did. Jesus "embodied" holiness! (and we'll get to the power of Jesus' body in today's Matthew readings...) Below is an image of the altar of burnt offering in use:
In Chapter 30 we read about the incense altar. I read a commentary that said the incense from this altar represented prayers to God from his people. We can see this similarity in Revelation chapter 8 verses 3 & 4: "Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great quantity of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God's people, to be offered on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of the saints, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out." It is wonderful imagery to realize that our prayers to God are like fragrant incense!
New Testament - Today in Matthew 26 verse 14 we read: "Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, "How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?" And they gave him thirty pieces of silver." The NIV Study Bible says that 30 pieces of silver was equivalent to about 120 denarii. Laborers at that time typically received 1 denarius for 1 day's work. So, Judas was basically paid about 4 months worth of work for the betrayal of Jesus. Sad... Bible.org has a powerful essay on "The Biography of the Betrayer" at this link. Below is a fresco from the early 14th century by the Italian Renaissance Florentine painter Giotto titled "Pact of Judas." In this fresco the two priests on the right discuss Judas's treachery, while the third plots with Judas, who is in the clutches of the devil...
Verses 26 through 28 today certainly will remind us of why Communion / the Lord's Supper is so important to us as believers in Jesus. This all took place the night before Jesus was crucified. The bread represents Jesus' body, given for us. The wine represents Jesus' blood, poured-out for many through Jesus' atoning death.
Verse 35 always stands out to me whenever I read it: "No!" Peter insisted. "Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!" And all the other disciples vowed the same." I guess what jumps out at me in this verse is the question - are we really any different from Peter? Would we proclaim that we would not deny Jesus if you asked us straight up? Yes I think we would proclaim that. But then... I get to thinking. About how we live our life sometimes. About the decisions we make. About maybe even the bad habits we foreswore off when we were a new Christian. And yet... do we still find ourselves going back to those bad habits - back to those sins? And, if we are doing this conscientiously - are we in a way denying Jesus when we knowingly sin now? Are we at times denying Jesus as our Lord by our actions? At times, are we really that different from Peter?
The Garden of Gethsemane... verses 38 & 39 are heartbreaking: "Jesus told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me." Jesus went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine."" Zondervan's commentary on these 2 verses really seemed to shake me up a bit about what Jesus did for us - and how we was not a typical martyr - "Jesus did not die serenely as many martyrs have. He was no mere martyr - he was the Lamb of God bearing the penalty of the sins of the entire human race. The wrath of God was turned loose on him. Only this can adequately explain what took place at Gethsemane." The atonement was coming the next day. And Jesus knew it. And he prayed for God's will above all else. And God's will was done. And those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God must be so thankful for Jesus' fervent face down prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane... Through Jesus' atoning death, we are saved from our sins. We are saved from God's wrath. I think it's really worth reflecting upon - Jesus took God's wrath in our place. Think this qualifies Jesus as Savior? Below is Italian painter Sebastiano Conca's beautiful "Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane" from the year 1746:
Psalms - This is a wonderful look at God's goodness in Psalm 31 verse 19: "Your goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor you. You have done so much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world." Do you believe that God's goodness is indeed great? Are you honoring God with your life and your actions and your thoughts each day? Do you believe that God is storing up blessings for you? Do you believe that God will bless you if you go to him for protection?
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 8 verse 22 is powerful to consider as it speaks of Wisdom: "The LORD formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else." If Wisdom was created before anything else, think this lends some credence to intelligent design? :)
Worship God: Matthew 26:26-28 reminded me of the song by the Christian band Kutless called "Sea of Faces". This song reminds me of The Lord's Supper every time I hear it - "I see the city lights all around me - Everyone's obscure. Ten million people each with their problems - Why should anyone care? And in Your eyes I can see - that I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world. Lost in a Sea of Faces. Your body's the bread, Your blood is the wine. Because you traded Your life for mine...."
Do you feel lost in a sea of faces? Click here and be Found!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on three verses of Scripture today: "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" Matthew 26:26-28 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you will examine yourself and confess your sins to Jesus before partaking in the Lord's Supper. Pray that you will fully receive Jesus when partaking in the Lord's Supper.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Do our readings in Matthew today remind you of Communion / The Lord's Supper at your church? Is this a positive remembrance for you? How important is Communion / The Lord's Supper to you personally these days? Do you look forward to this remembrance at your church? Have you ever experienced Communion / The Lord's Supper with others in settings outside of your normal worship experience? Maybe at a prayer gathering or outside or in other beautiful settings? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!