“Know, a treasured word, that appears on the surface to have an obvious meaning, but in reality hides a far deeper significance. From the beginning I have sought to know the people I have called – and encouraged them to know Me. Knowing Me is far more than an esoteric exercise – where you learn more about Me. Because for you to truly know Me you must experience Me and to do that you need to move beyond understanding to interaction with Me through faith. I have known you before I implanted you in your mother’s womb. Yet in a way my knowledge of you has been enriched by your response and interaction with Me over the years. You pray that the eyes of your heart may be opened so that you may know Me better. There will come a time when that knowledge is complete when you see me face-to-face in all My glory in your glorified body. So continue on this path of getting to know Me better as I lead you through dark valleys and over a mountain tops. It’s in the walk that you get to fully know Me”.
As we reach the critical point of the gospel, Matthew gives us a beautiful little cameo, which is easy to miss, with one’s eyes fixed on the awful events to come. Why don’t you read Matthew 26:1-16 and try and see what the main point Matthew is making?
There are three stories. The first verse sets up the background for us. The prospect of Jesus’ crucifixion, set against the backdrop of the timing – the Passover. How is this going to happen? Different people are going to be involved. The chief priests and elders are playing a key part in moving this story along. Hidden in the story there are four different responses to Jesus, which Mathew presents to us. This is skillfully worked in with the object of ultimately getting the reader to ask him/herself which one do I relate to. Where do I stand?
Can you see them? Firstly, of course there are the religious leaders. They are the people who have the intellectual knowledge, that should have put them in a position to understand and welcome this Man, who over the past few years has proved over and over that He is the expected Messiah. However their eyes are blinded by pride, jealousy and prejudgment. So not only are they not willing to accept Him, they are actually planning to kill Him. There are plenty of people around today who fit that category, I’m sure none of you who read this does.
The second person, who is the central character in vv 6-13, is the women with the alabaster jar of perfume. Completely opposite to the previous group, she shows by a unique action of self-sacrifice her love for Jesus. Her act is in line with the “widow’s mite”. She offers her all to Jesus. Her heart, soul and body. Does that apply to me? I bow my head in shame as I feel I have not got there yet, but it spurs me on to aspire to have that love. (Of course there is a deeper meaning to the act as she is symbolically anointing Jesus for His burial).
Woven into that passage is the group of disciples. Jesus’ closes companions now for two years. But wait. They are actually complaining about the beautiful act that the nameless woman has performed. “A waste” they say. Do they not love and treasure Jesus as much as she does? Why are they so miffed? Is it jealousy? I consider this and measure myself against this group. Easy to feel superior and look down on them. But am I any better? Do I not hold my own interest often above those of Lord? Do I truly love Him with all my heart, body, soul and mind?
Then even worse. From among their own number, Judas actively betrays his Master. Horrific! Horrific indeed. I hope I will never descend to that, although I may even come close to Peter’s denial.
So this cameo introduces us to this last phase of Jesus’ life here on earth. Set against the backdrop of the Passover to be the reminder of why Jesus was going to the altar of the cross. To be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I find it fitting to be here in our reading as we approach Christmas. Christmas can never truly be celebrated without the shadow of the cross behind the celebrations to remind us of the real reason Jesus came to be one of us.
Let us all prepare ourselves for the real Christmas celebration, ready to give an answer for the hope we have.