Matthew 26:20-30 (Part 6) – Are You Crazy? Praising God When Life Seems To Suck?

Posted: April 5, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 26:20-30 (Part 6)

Jesus and the Disciples Share the Last Supper

 

There is an old bumper sticker that is a commentary on the removal of anything remotely resembling religious preference from school that says, “As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school.” In the tough times, we tend to turn to God. Do you remember in the aftermath of 09/11/01 that church attendance skyrocketed for a short period of time. When times are uncertain or when we have great fear, we turn to God. That is true for many non-believers. They act like God does not exist in most of their days, but let something catastrophic happen and they will turn to the very God that they act as if doesn’t exist any other time. I think what baffles most non-believers is that bad things happening do seem quite random and unexplainable. They tend to create a world where if we do more good than bad then the karma-like essence of the world will treat us fairly. And then when bad things happen to us, when we perceive ourselves as more good than bad, we are baffled to explain the lack of equilibrium in the cosmic forces of the world. In that sense, the world would seem to be a random, unpredictable place where everything ultimately ends badly. Seeking answers for the unexplainable lack of equality between the forces of good and evil is difficult for them. The world of good seems to be trampled by the world of evil. I guess that mentality is why horror movies that feature that which is satanic or evil seem to sell so well. We live in cultural times where bad outweighs good. Evil seems rampant and unstoppable. It is easier to believe that evil wins than for good to triumph.

 

Those that do not believe in God tend to ridicule those of us who do because they believe that we are deluding ourselves with this opiate called Christianity. They say we talk out of both sides of our mouth when we give God glory for what seems like bad luck to others and yet at the same time give Him glory when we seem to have good fortune. For example, we praise God for delivering us through a bad spot but yet thank Him for the bad spot. They say that we make God into a win-win situation. Regardless of the outcome of a situation, we are going to thank God. As a lighter example, if we are a Christian and a Villanova fan, we would thank God that the shot that left Jenkins’ hand with :00.6 left and went in the basket. Yet, at the same time, if that same shot had rimmed out and the game went into overtime, we would have said it just wasn’t God’s will that the game end right there. To them, that is almost deluded to thank God no matter what happens. Our own Bible expresses the thought in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 where it says, “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I think that seems like pie in the sky to some. That seems like delusion to others. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. In all circumstances? That seems insane to some. We live in a cynical world where evil reigns but the Bible tells us basically to not worry and be happy. There’s something wrong with those Christians, I tell ya! We have an example though right here in today’s passage. I would like for us, as we write and read through this last installment on Matthew 26:20-30, to concentrate on the last verse, Matthew 26:30.

 

Let’s re-read the text one more time, one last time before we move onto the next passage:

 

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. 30, Jesus led the disciples in a traditional Passover-ending hymn. According to D.A. Carson, one of the most respected theological scholars of our age, in his scholarly work, “Matthew,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “it is very likely this song was some portion of Psalm 114–118, and very likely it was sung antiphonally, meaning Jesus led the men by singing a line, and the disciples responded by singing a “Hallelujah.” Back and forth they responsively marched through a psalm in song.” This last verse may seem like a transitional phrase to change the scenery from the upper room of a follower of Jesus to the garden where Jesus is to be arrested, but it is, when you think on it, a very profound statement of who Jesus was, what He was about, and as an example of the way we should live our lives. Jesus was God in the flesh and knew what was about to happen. He was fully human too so I am certain that He had anguish over what was about to go down. In his humanness, we see later that he was so stressed out that he sweated blood – a real medical condition when a person gets stressed beyond what you and I would consider stress beyond normal human limits. All that is preceded by this scene’s end in the upper room. They sang a hymn. Jesus led the disciples in praising God. He was about to be brutally beaten over and over again and was about to die on the cross. Yet, He had time to praise the Father in heaven for a moment. He took time to praise God before the irreversible events of the evening were about to begin. Jesus knew full well what was about to happen. However, He knew that it was all part of God’s plan. He knew the purpose. From his humanness, I am sure that He did not look forward to the very real pain and suffering that He was going to endure but He trusted His Father in heaven enough to give Him praise at this moment. He gave praise to God before the bad stuff was about to happen. He trusted God to guide Him through the bad times. He trusted. So He praised. With that deep down trust in the Father, He could praise. He knew the end game so He praised.

 

That is what you and I must take away as we move to the next scene in the book of Matthew. This is what we can take away and use. We can indeed live lives of thanksgiving. Just like Jesus. Jesus sang a hymn before he was about to go through the ringer, the worst night and following day of his human existence from the standpoint of physical pain and suffering not to mention the complete and utter injustice of it all. We must learn to praise Him at all times. We must learn to trust that God has got this. He’s got our back and that everything that we go through is for a reason and to give further and deeper power to the testimony of His righteousness and His plan for our lives that we can give to the world. We can be thankful. We can live confident lives that no matter what we are going through, that God has got our back. Jesus knew His Father was with Him and so should we. In his sermon, “Thank God!”, at www.sermoncentral.com, Charlie Roberts points to our need to praise God when he says,

 

Everybody has something that they can be thankful for..

if not you better check your pulse

 

I’m thankful for

….the taxes I pay

….because it means I have a job

 

….the clothes that fit a little too snug

….because it means I have more than enough to eat

 

….a lawn that needs mowing and

….gutters that need cleaned

….because it means I have a home.

 

….the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot

….because it means I am capable of walking.

 

….my huge heating bill

….because it means I am warm.

 

We live lives of thanksgiving because no matter what happens, God has a plan for it all. When we praise Him, give thanks to Him, we are acknowledging that it is He and not we that is in control. We praise Him for that no matter whether the ball goes into the basket and wins the game or it rims out and the game goes into overtime. We trust that God has a purpose. I do not have to know what that purpose is right now. I trust that it will be revealed. Thus, I can praise no matter how bad the circumstance is or how good it is – by human standards. I have my example in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is praising God just hours before the horrific events of the trial and crucifixion are irreversibly upon Him. How can I not think about living a life of praise when you think about that?

 

Amen and Amen.

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