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Matthew 26:26-46

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

Matthew 26:26-46 The Passion and Power of Christ

gray footed cup beside baguette bread

Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ: God desires a personal relationship with us

He wants us to live righteously for Him, worship Him, and to proclaim His name. However, sin rears its ugly head and may keep us from this relationship. Sin is “missing the mark” of righteousness. It is disobedience to the will of God. We cannot save ourselves from sin. Only God could do this for us.

Therefore, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish this mission. Jesus came to redeem us from our sins, reconcile us to God, turn away God’s wrath, pay the penalty for our sins, and to make it possible for us to be justified before God. Also, He walks with our day-to-day and helps us live out what He has done for us. Our relationship with Jesus is ongoing, deepening, and developing.

My next thoughts will be about the passion and power of Christ. The word passion comes from the Latin passion, which means suffering. In the church, it especially applies to Christ’s redemptive suffering that culminated in his crucifixion. Our texts for the passion of Christ are Matthew 26:36-46 and Mark 14:32-42. The setting of these texts is the Garden of Gethsemane.

About the power of Christ, Romans 1:4 is a key verse. Here, the apostle Paul says, “who [Jesus] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christ suffered on our behalf, but He also rose from the grave and assumed His position of power. We serve a powerful Savior!

Stay tuned! Your comments are welcome!

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

Today, our focus will be on the Passion of Christ. The Passion was underway as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Matthew 26:39 He prays: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then, in Matthew 26:42 He prays, “My Father if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, your will be done.”

One of my professors at Bible College was Robert Cummings. Earlier in his ministry, he was a missionary to North India. In his penetrating book on Gethsemane, he says, “One of the most frequent objections raised by our non-Christian audiences to the New Testament portrait of Christ was His seeming unwillingness to do the will of God, as He prayed in the garden that the cup might pass from Him.”

The question is, “Why did Christ recoil from what He was about to endure?” He knew that He was destined for this moment. Yet He seemed to pull back. Did His mission require that He drink this cup? What caused Him at this crucial hour to seem to be reluctant to fulfill His mission in this way?

One reason, perhaps, was the fact that He had to endure great physical pain. Even based on physical suffering, Jesus was not weak. However, it seems to me that the physical pain does not adequately explain the reluctance. There is more to the story than that.

When the time came for Christ’s suffering, He said (Matthew 26:38), “’ My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death.’” Jesus suffered not only in body but in His soul. He had a “cup” to drink. The cup is symbolic of His suffering. What was in that cup? What does it mean to drink it? We will examine these questions more in my next “thoughts.” Meanwhile, let us express our deepest gratitude to Jesus for enduring all the pain on our behalf.

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

Why did Jesus recoil at the thought of drinking from the “cup” in the Garden of Gethsemane? We do not know for certain because Jesus did not tell us why. However, we can think of several possible reasons.

First, let us consider the cup of sin. We know that Christ was made to be a sin. As Jesus prayed in the Garden, an awesome thing was about to take place. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul wrote, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NAU). What did Paul mean when he said, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf”?

One, God did not make Jesus a sinner. Jesus was without sin before the passion, during the passion, and forever afterward. He never acted against the will of God. He never “missed the mark” but always was perfectly holy.

Jesus never sinned, but all of us have! Paul declared (Romans 3:23), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Many who have been saved from sins such as murder and immorality readily admit that they were saved from sin. Often they are very grateful and become strong soul winners.

Many others who have grown up in Christian families, perhaps unwittingly, ask, “Why would Christ suffer and die for me?” This question stems from self-righteousness. They do not connect the dots between their behavior and sin. Compared to God’s holiness, their lives are stained by sin. God abhors sin in any form.

Two, God did put the sins of the world on Christ. As Isaiah said, “the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6). We all are sinners, and our sin was placed upon Him. He had to carry our sins to the cross.

It is difficult to know just what this means. We would like to penetrate the matter further and ask, “Did Jesus have to imbibe sin into His very being?” Is this what it meant for Him to drink the cup? We know that He did not sin, but sin was laid upon Him. We cannot know more. All we know is that He was in anguish because sin was laid on Him. This connection with sin was abhorrent to Him.

Three, Christ became a sacrifice for our sins. Speaking prophetically about Jesus, Isaiah said, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). In the Old Testament, they used a goat for a sin offering. Concerning a leader who has sinned, Leviticus 4:24 says: “He shall lay his hand on the head of the male goat and slay it in the place where they slay the burnt offering before the LORD; it is a sin offering.” Jesus became that sacrifice for us.

Four, Jesus was numbered among the transgressors. During the Last Supper, Jesus (Luke 22:37) cited Isaiah 53:12 to His disciples. He said “’ for I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to me has its fulfillment” (NAU). Thus, Jesus was reckoned to be in. God charged all that is a sin against Him. He had to bear the penalty and the guilt in our stead. Jesus had to “drink” the cup for us!

Why did Jesus hold back? Cummings (p. 34) writes: “I say it reverently: It is not the human weakness of Jesus that we see in Gethsemane: it is the recoil, the revulsion of the nature of the holy Son of God when the One who was the sharer of God’s holiness became sin that we might become righteousness.”

As Jesus prayed, a great exchange was about to take place. He would be considered a sin. Because of what He would do, we who believe in Jesus would “become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). All this is by God’s grace, not by our efforts. We share in Christ’s righteousness. As we live for Him, we become what we are. We grow in the image of Christ who died for us.

In my next “thoughts” we will consider the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus endured. Why do you think that Jesus seemed reluctant to drink the cup in the Garden of Gethsemane? Your comments are welcome.

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

We have been discussing these questions: Why did Jesus recoil about drinking the “cup” in the Garden of Gethsemane? What was in the cup? We do not know for certain, but some things seem reasonable. We discussed, first, that it was a cup of sin. Today, as a second point, we will talk about the cup being a cup of God’s wrath.

In times past, the church understood that God is angry with sin. In the 18th century, Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon on “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God.” The church today, however, is much more likely to emphasize God’s love and grace. The Biblical concept includes both God’s anger and God’s grace. God is just. What we must remember is that Christ bore God’s anger so that we might receive God‘s love fully. Through Christ, we are considered righteous. Let’s examine the facts.

One, the wrath of God is real. Paul writes to the Romans in Romans 1:18-19: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”

Two, the wrath of God had to be expressed and applied. God is just, and His justice had to be applied. It was a moral necessity. We could not meet the demands of justice and avoid God’s wrath. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God, could do this. Only He could endure God’s wrath in such a way that we might be saved.

Three, according to Paul, in Romans 3:25, Jesus is the one “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” What does propitiation mean? I like the definition, Leon Morris. He says that propitiation is “The turning away of wrath by an offering.” Jesus was the offering for sin, and He turned away God’s wrath.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ no doubt contemplated what it would mean to bear the wrath of God. Throughout eternity, He had perfect fellowship with the Father. On earth, as in heaven, He was sinless. He deserved nothing but an infinitely close relationship with the Father.

Now, God the Father is about to pour out His wrath on Him, the Son of God. No wonder He prayed, “My Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39) If the Father would agree, the Son would avoid His wrath. As human beings, we cannot know the depth of suffering that the Father’s wrath brought to Christ.
Jesus went on to pray, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). It was the will of the Father that He endure the wrath that we might be saved. We can avoid the wrath of God by believing in His Son and accepting His sacrifice for us. Jesus would drink the cup.

The question for us all men and women is: Will they accept what Jesus He has done for them? The choice is theirs. The results of their choice, whether for or against Jesus, are dramatically different. Jesus (John 3:36) said, “’ He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.’” NASU

In summary, we have talked about the cup of sin and the cup of God’s wrath. In my next “thoughts” we will discuss the cup of being forsaken. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

Jesus seemed to recoil from drinking the “cup” when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. We have been talking about reasons why He appeared to be reluctant. Jesus must have known what would be in the cup. Today, we will consider the cup of being forsaken.

Matthew records one of the sayings of Jesus when He was on the cross. He writes: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “’ ELI, ELI, and LAMA SABACHTHANI?’” that is, “’ MY GOD, MY GOD, and WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?’” (Matthew 27:46). On the cross, Jesus quotes Psalm 22:1. Several points about this saying stand out to me.

One, Jesus addresses the Father in these terms, “My God, My God.” James D. G. Dunn points out that this is the one prayer where Jesus does not address God as Abba (Jesus and the Spirit, p. 21). Perhaps he did not say “Father” simply because He was quoting Psalm 22:1. But the deeper reason may well be that God the Father turned away from His Son, Jesus.

Two, some commentators hold that Jesus felt that God forsook Him, but that God did not forsake Him. Even if God did not forsake Jesus, the feeling Jesus had was real. In any case, He felt forsaken. Others believe that God did forsake Jesus. Being forsaken was a part of His atoning work. Either way, when Jesus was on the cross, he experienced God’s wrath.

Three, it was not only Jesus who suffered. Can we imagine the Father’s agony as he turned away from His only begotten Son? This gives new meaning to John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the pain of being forsaken by the Father was before Jesus. He pulled back then immediately prayed, “Your will be done.” It was the Father’s will that Jesus drinks the cup. The result of Christ’s suffering was that we can be saved. Jesus looked down from the cross upon His executioners and prayed (Luke 23:34), “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” We can be sure that this prayer applies to all of us.

In summary, the cup presented to Jesus was the cup of sin, the cup of God’s wrath, and the cup of being forsaken. When faced with this cup, He chose to do God’s will. He drank the cup for our salvation. We are deeply grateful!

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

We have been talking about the Passion of Christ. In the church, the Passion refers to Christ’s redemptive suffering that culminated in His crucifixion. Today, we will turn our attention to the Power of Christ. Over the next two or three days. We will consider several points about this power.

First, as we think about the suffering of Jesus, we might ask: Why did Jesus not call upon God to deliver Him? When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He answered this question. According to Matthew 26:53, He said, “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” A legion represented 6,000 troops. Jesus could have called twelve legions of angels. This means 72,000 angels. The angels could have obliterated the Roman cohort, or 600 troops, that came with Judas (John 18:3) to arrest Jesus.

As the Son of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus had power. Why did Jesus not exercise His power? When Peter sought to defend Jesus by cutting off the ear of one of Caiaphas’ slaves, Jesus said to him (John 18:11), “’ Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” Jesus was destined for this hour and this suffering. He must not avoid His destiny.

Moreover, Jesus had told His disciples (John 12:24), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus died to become the Savior of the world. The harvest has been astounding!

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

In my last “thoughts” I spoke about why Father God and Jesus the Son did not exercise their power to deliver Jesus from suffering. Today, we will talk about resurrection power.

My second point is that at the right time Jesus would manifest His power. After the Passion came the Resurrection. The resurrection is central to the power of Christ. We are talking about Resurrection Power! Paul wrote to the Romans (1:3-4) “ 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

One view of these verses is that Romans 1:3 has to do with the human state of Jesus and 1:4 with His divine state. Another view is that 1:3 represents Jesus in His state of humiliation and 1:4 in his state of exaltation. These are not contradictory ideas. Since His incarnation, Jesus has been and continues to be both human and divine. In His state of humiliation, He allowed Himself to be limited to some degree about His divine power (Philippians 2:5-11). In His state of exaltation, He is unlimited in power.

Jesus was the eternal Son of God. He was not made God’s Son. His state of humiliation simply gave way to a state of exaltation. Even during His humiliation, He was empowered by the Spirit. Through the resurrection, God declared that the exalted Son was the “Son of God with power.” The resurrection and ascension were His inaugurations for the age to come. It would be the age of the Spirit.

On the Day of Pentecost Peter declared (Acts 2:36), “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ– this Jesus whom you crucified.” Through the resurrection, the power of Christ was established. It was this powerful Christ who poured out the Spirit upon them.

We serve a powerful, risen Lord! When He speaks, we listen. He speaks to us from the cross. He endured everything that we endure. He knows all about our suffering. He can minister to us because He identifies with us. He was crushed in greater measure than we have been crushed. Moreover, He speaks to us from the right hand of God. He was not just crushed; He rose again victoriously. Whatever problems we have, we can take them to Him. Although the devil is still prowling around for a season, He is defeated. He will be cast into the lake of fire. Our Lord can help us with our weaknesses, our infirmities, and our problems.

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

About the power of Christ, we have noted that He and the Father could have delivered Him from suffering and that Jesus now has resurrection power. Now, we will discuss, as a third point, the fact that Jesus was resurrected for our justification.

In Romans 4:25 Paul said that Jesus “was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Christ atoned for our sins. Then, He was raised in power with the result that we are justified. We will consider several related points.

One justified means that God pronounces us and treats us as just. We are not liable for our sins. In God’s eyes, we are acquitted. All this is ours because of Christ. As believers, we are in Christ, and we participate in His righteousness. We are justified by God’s grace. It is God’s work alone that makes this possible

Because we are in Christ, we are not under condemnation. We are not guilty because Christ died for us. Because Christ died and rose again, Paul can say (Romans 8:1) to us, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” No condemnation! Let us not live under guilt and condemnation. To do so would be to reject Christ’s sacrifice for us. He has paid it all!
Two, Christ now lives in us. In Galatians 2:20 Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Three, we must become what we are. Let us not live below our privilege. Our churches are filled with Christians who are willing to live defeated lives because they do not know what enemies Christ defeated. Satan was crushed through the death and resurrection of Christ.

We must not try to establish our righteousness. If we do, we will fail. We live by the grace of God through faith in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is doing His work in us. We will be brought to maturity in Christ. To the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 3:18) Paul wrote: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

Today we will consider our fourth point about the power of Christ. It has to do with the Great Commission. When Jesus was raised from the grave, all authority was given to Him. With this authority established, Christ issued His command to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. In Matthew 28:18-20 we read:

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Passion of Christ is His suffering leading up to and including the cross. The word passion, however, has an additional meaning. It can refer to the strong feeling we have for some activity or cause. The passion of Christ in Matthew 28:18-20 is that all men should know about His saving power. It was this passion that sustained Him throughout His suffering. This same passion must grip us today. We must be telling the story of God’s great love. We must let nothing deter us from this outreach.

More Thoughts about the Passion and Power of Christ

Today, I will summarize what we have been discussing on this subject. Our text has been Matthew 26:26-46. We began with the Passion of Christ, the events that took place between Gethsemane and the cross. The key question is: Why did Jesus recoil from the Passion? He suffered physically, but there is much more to the story. Although the Gospels do not tell us why the following points seem to fit the redemptive story. He recoiled, I believe along with others because He had to drink the cup of sin, the cup of God’s wrath, and the cup of feeling forsaken.

The redemptive story, however, does not end at the cross. Why did Jesus not call on the Father for deliverance? The Father and Son had the power to deliver Jesus, but the destiny of Jesus was to suffer and die for our sins. On the third day after His death, Jesus rose from the grave. Jesus then became the Son of God with power. In other words, He had resurrection power. He was resurrected for our justification. Moreover, His resurrection power enables us to tell the story throughout the earth. Jesus poured out the Spirit upon us for that purpose.

Jesus is coming again in full power. He is coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will rule the universe in power, love, and justice. Paul wrote: “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Ephesians 2:9-10).

The refrain of a well-known song expresses our feelings about the power of Christ. The songwriter says:

O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.
O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.

George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

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