Matthew 21 & 22
Once again in Matthew, we are encountering something about authority (v23 - 27). These two chapters have within them Jesus tackling power, authority and privilege. The Triumphal entry to Jerusalem has Jesus parading in like a Roman conqueror… but on a donkey and the crowds love it. It’s a political statement – but Jesus’ act is much bigger than political – more than a satirical act to annoy the occupying forces and whip up the crowd. He is challenging the very essence and understanding of power in all its forms.
Matthew 23 & 24
Yet again we see here a tough-talking Jesus. He is taking the Pharisees to task over a number of things. But why? We need to take care that we don’t just see the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, and the Pharisees in particular, as some king of pantomime villain of the story – the bad guy to Jesus’ good guy. That is far too simplistic. These religious leaders were seriously committed to their faith and ritual. So why was Jesus so hard on them?
Matthew 25 & 26
The first of these chapters are three stories that Jesus gives us about being ready. Now, I’ve never been a scout, but I do know their motto is ‘be prepared’. I agree with this life motto but I personally unfortunately have a tendency of leaving things to the last minute – a bit like the 5 virgins at the wedding feast. But I think there is more to this than merely the life lesson of being well prepared. It’s about being ready for the bridegroom – the King – Jesus – returning to the banquet. It is built upon in the second story; not just ‘be prepared’ but use the blessings and opportunities provided for you by the master in anticipation of his return. Don’t just sit back and do whatever you want. And it is so much more than not wasting your ‘talents’. It’s about working for the Lord, not for yourself.
Matthew 27 & 28
Here is the climax to the whole story. The point to which the last 28 chapters (and more if you think about the Old Testament too) have been leading to. We are so familiar with the story aren’t we? We’ve seen countless crosses on necklaces, gravestones, tattoos even. We’ve seen the crucifixion scene played out from children’s Bible story books through to graphic movies. The scenes often show Jesus – a frail and broken man. It’s understandable when you really consider what he went through with the interrogations, whipping, beatings, mocking, spitting and execution. His physical body must have been shattered. I’m not sure I could have endured a fraction of what He did for us.