Your Plan for 2024

Commit to read the New Testament in 2024. Just one chapter every weekday, accompanied by a short devotional here.

Monday, February 5, 2024

February 5 - Matthew 26

Key Verse:
 Matthew 26:75

Big Idea: When Jesus went to the cross, He was alone so we never have to be.

The final days of Jesus' earthly ministry were marked by dramatic contrasts. At Bethany, a woman (we learn her name was Mary in John 12:3, although Matthew does not give her name) poured expensive perfume on Jesus' body, worth a year's wages. The disciples were outraged, but Jesus told them that she was doing a beautiful thing: preparing His body for burial. This must have seemed like a strange claim, and even Mary could not have understood it - surely the Messiah was not going to die! But when she would go the following Sunday to His tomb, there would be no corpse to anoint, because Jesus has already risen again. She loved Him but did not understand Him, yet things would get worse.

Judas left the house to go to the chief priests and betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and within a few days, everything was set into motion. Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples, spoke about His body and His blood, but they still did not understand what He was going to do. He looked around the dinner table, knowing that Judas had already betrayed Him, Peter would deny Him and the rest would desert Him. What He came to do, He had to face by Himself - but not for Himself. The people who could not stand by Him were the very ones that He loved enough to give His life for.

Older kids: What would you do if you knew you only had a few days left to live? How does that compare with the way Jesus spent His last days, and even His last hours?

Younger kids: Have you ever been lonely? How do you think Jesus felt when all of His friends left Him alone?  Are we ever really alone?

Out in the cool of the night, Peter swore that He would never deny Jesus, even if everyone else did - even if he had to die with Jesus. All the other disciples were just a certain, and just as wrong. Jesus asked them to pray with Him, but they fell asleep instead. He called out to His Father, asking if there was any way other than the cross, but accepted that there was not. Then, Judas came with the soldiers, the disciples scattered like sheep without a shepherd and Peter denied three times that He even knew who Jesus was, while Jesus was being beaten and preparing to die for Peter. In the morning, Jesus would cry out: "My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

The answer to Jesus' question is important. Jesus was forsaken by His friends and His Father on the cross because He bore the consequences of all of our sin. Sin separates us from God and separates us from each other, so Jesus was entirely alone. But because Jesus has taken that penalty of sin, we do not have to. Our sin does not need to separate us from God, because if we ask for forgiveness, God has already provided a free way to have it! Peter denied Jesus, but Jesus never abandoned Peter. Jesus was alone, but we never have to be, because He is with us always (Matthew 28:20).

Discussion idea: What does it mean that Jesus was separated from God? What does it mean for us that even if we stumble, Jesus remains faithful to us?

Prayer focus: Pray for the assurance that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, and for the faithfulness to never deny Him.

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