Matthew 26:20-30 (Part 5) – Gettin’ Through the Tough Stuff to Get to the Good Stuff

Posted: April 4, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 26:20-30 (Part 5)

Jesus and the Disciples Share the Last Supper

 

Those two-a-day practices in the summer heat of August in South Carolina. The person that said, “It’s not the heat! It’s the humidity” clearly was a resident of South Carolina in the late summer. When you are a football player, you dread those practices in August. Not only were you in full gear. Not only were you running til your guts were on fire. Not only were you hitting, blocking, etc. But you were sweating like a stuck hog bleeds. Not an inch of your body is without sweat in those August two-a-day football practices. Morning and afternoon practice. Back in my school sports years, they did not care as much about player safety as they do now so we got pushed hard. If you survived summer camp, the fall football season was almost a relief because you only practice for a couple of hours after school. If you survived the summer without dying or quitting, you felt as though you had accomplished something. You had survived and made it to the other side. The promise of being able to make the team and be able to be identified as a member of the football team was the carrot that go most of us through. Many of us loved the game so much that we were willing to voluntarily put ourselves through that hell known as summer camp just so we could don the jersey on Fridays. In some years as a football player, you get to be a part of a championship team. A team that wins it all. When the championship is won and the trophy in hand, you look back on those summer days when you thought you were absolutely going to die and smile. It was that grueling time that prepared you for those games where you had to suck up all the guts you had and push through physical adversity and sometimes adversity on the scoreboard. It was that grueling time in August that you survived that made you believe that you could survive any adversity on the football field. You smile now because you look back and think that it was worth it. Even when you don’t win a championship and maybe you played on a losing team, to survive summer camp and then play with endurance and pride, you too can look back on that summer heat in South Carolina and smile and know that you made it through it and that you can survive what you thought you couldn’t. It gave you confidence to do your best because you made it through the worst already.

 

It is that idea of making it through the tough times to get to the reward that bring us to our message for today. Jesus is giving His disciples a subtle warning and a promise when He says what He says about not partaking of the wine anew until He meets them again in heaven. Let’s re-read the text one more time:

 

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

 

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

 

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

 

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

 

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

 

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

 

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

 

In v. 29, Jesus gives his disciples a clear warning. Wine represented celebration then just as it does now. Jesus is telling them that He will not be able to celebrate with them but there will be a day when they all will be rejoined in heaven and can celebrate. It was a moment of celebration that they enjoyed. It was that final moment before everything changed. Jesus had been carefully tutoring and teaching and leading these disciples for three years. They had three good years and they saw Jesus grow in popularity as His ministry progressed. Everything was seemingly coming easy to them. Jesus was the cool guy to be around. It was the best of times. They felt like they were on the inside of a good thing, a new wave of understanding about the nature of God and they were going to change the Jewish establishment through the Messiah whom they thought to be Jesus. It was all good. It was like in June and July, everybody patting you on the back about being on the football team, but August is coming baby!

 

Jesus was warning them of the hard times to come. Everything was going to change on this night. Their lives were going to change forever from the comparative peace and calm of the three years they spent with Jesus. They would run for their lives on this night. They would each begin ministries of their own later. They would come to understand the purpose of Jesus Christ. They would come to understand who Jesus was and what He means to us. They would go to the ends of the Roman Empire and beyond to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. They would suffer, be beaten, imprisoned and finally each one die a martyr’s death rather than stop preaching about Jesus. It would be a grueling, itinerant life. One town to the next. Barely getting by. Preaching and teaching every chance they got. These guys put up with all kinds of hardship because Jesus told them to go spread the gospel and make disciples. But they knew their eternal reward was to be with Jesus again in heaven. That made them relentless here on earth. They finally got it and were willing to do anything to see people come to Christ. They would endure anything because they knew the reward was far greater – to be with Jesus in heaven and to see Him smile and say, “well done, good and faithful servant.” That would be the celebration time that Jesus speaks of here. This celebration they had this night would be no comparison to their celebration together in heaven. But there was a whole bunch of hard stuff to go through between here and there – for Jesus and for the disciples after Him.

 

So, what’s the takeaway for you and me? I think that it is this. A lot of us think that when we accept Christ as our Savior that everything is magically going to be better and that all our troubles are over and solved. We get really bummed when we see our life in some ways get worse. We may actually lose friends over becoming a Christ follower among other things. We may have to stand on biblical principles that are not popular among other things. Because we live in a fallen world, we may have to endure hardships, heartache, losses, and so on. There will be times when it is a great disadvantage to be a Christian. It may cost you a lot at some point in your life. It may even cost you your life. Being a Christ follower is tough at times. If we are expecting it to be easy then we have been deluded. It is making moral choices when everyone else is being immoral. It is loving your family or your neighbor when every bone in your body screams out for vengeance. Being a Christ follower is hard work. It is as much mental choices as it that emotional feeling. Being a Christ follower is a 24/7/365 job. It’s not a coat you take off when it becomes an inconvenient part of your life. Sometimes, being a Christian is like summer camp in football in the summer heat in South Carolina. It is hard. It is tough. You would rather through in the towel and walk away. But remember, the reward is great. We can endure anything that this world throws at us because we know that we have a great reward coming. It should embolden us here on earth. We can endure anything and survive anything for our reward is great. It should make us more willing to spread the gospel at all costs. It should make us care about helping oppressed peoples know Jesus Christ. It should embolden to fight against injustice. It should embolden us to doing anything for Jesus Christ.

 

For our reward is far greater than anything that this world has to offer. We will be celebrating with Jesus Christ. We will be celebrating with Him. We will be right there and He will be smiling at us for being bold in his name. We will be in the perfection of heaven with Jesus. There’s reward. That’s the Friday night under the lights. That’s the reward for the two-a-days in August. To be in heaven with Jesus. To see Him smile at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” That’s a picture of glory divine. That’s what should embolden us to go through whatever needs to be gone through to make the name of our Savior famous in a world that needs to know Him. Our reward is to celebrate with Him in heaven at the end of the grind that we call this life. Amen and Amen.

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