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Lesson 12: Jesus' Last Days *

Introduction: Our study of Matthew this week pictures two betrayers and one woman fully devoted to Jesus. What does it mean, really, to betray Jesus? What does it mean to be fully devoted to Jesus? Why is the outcome so much different for one betrayer than for the other? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Plotters and the Woman

    1. Read Matthew 26:1-2. This is obviously very discouraging news. Why share it with the disciples? (Jesus wanted them to be warned (again).)

      1. What does that suggest about significant last-day events? (Jesus will warn us about important and challenging events.)

    2. Read Matthew 26:3-7. We have two opposing pictures. One of a group that is plotting to kill Jesus and another of a woman who is making a great sacrifice for Jesus. Given Jesus understanding of His soon-coming death, how do you think He felt about the woman? (This is this bright star in an otherwise dark situation. I would be so grateful to her.)

    3. Read Matthew 26:8-9. How do you explain the disciple's reaction? They have been told that Jesus is about to die, should they not join in doing something special for Him? (I think the disciples resisted believing what Jesus told them. They did not want to believe that He would die.)

      1. How would you react if you were this woman and you heard this criticism? You have sacrificed to buy this perfume, and now the disciples are criticizing you for it!

      2. There is an assumption in this text I want you to notice. The disciples did not say she should have given money to the poor instead of buying perfume, they say she could have sold the perfume. What does this tell us about how this woman obtained the perfume? (It was a gift. Evidently, it was not something she could afford.)

    4. Read Matthew 26:10-13. This was a gift, someone intended the woman to use it. Instead, she chose one self-sacrificing use for it instead of the self-sacrificing use suggested by the disciples. Should the disciples have the right to tell her which self-sacrificing expenditure she must make? (They don't have the right advice. Jesus says that what she has done will be talked about throughout history.)

      1. Are there opportunities around you to lift the spirits of those who are discouraged with some kindness?

      2. Will they also talk throughout the world about the disciples criticizing this self-sacrificing woman?

      3. What is the difference between the attitude of the woman and the disciples? (She was fully devoted to Jesus. The disciples were devoted to making their own judgment about the best use of her perfume.)

  2. Judas

    1. Read Matthew 26:14-16. Was Judas one who criticized the woman?

      1. Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus? Had he now decided to hate Jesus? (I have two theories. First, that he did not believe that Jesus could be killed - and that He might as well collect money as a reward for forcing Jesus to declare Himself King. Second, that Jesus was serious about dying, in which case he deserved the money for his wasted time in hanging around for three years. In either event, he trusted himself and not Jesus.)

      2. Read Matthew 18:7. Is this a description of Judas' situation?

    2. Read Matthew 26:17-22. The disciples assumed the betrayal was not already taking place. Why? (Because all except Judas had not betrayed Him.)

      1. We've discussed my views about Judas' plot. What were the other disciples thinking - had it crossed their mind that they could make a little money on this unfortunate turn of events? (They were just sad about it, and worried that they might be unreliable.)

      2. Why did Jesus disclose that He would be betrayed? Do you think He wanted to make Judas feel guilty, or did He want him to abandon his plan, or did Jesus have something else in mind?

    3. Read Matthew 26:23-25. This is a very serious event in the mind of the disciples. Do you think they understood that Judas was betraying Jesus?

      1. If so, why didn't they attack Judas? Why not threaten him so he would not do it? Why not restrain him so that he could not betray Jesus?

      2. When Judas said, "Surely not I, Rabbi," what does that tell us about his willingness to abandon his plan? (Judas had made his decision. He now lied to cover it up.)

  3. Last Supper

    1. Read Matthew 26:26-30. Put yourself in the place of the disciples. Would you have any idea what Jesus was talking about? He first says He is about to be killed, and now He is talking about symbolically eating His body and drinking His blood.

    2. Consider what we have studied so far. The disciples think they have better judgment than the woman. Judas thinks he has better judgment than Jesus. What point is Matthew making by putting this account of the Last Supper here?

  4. Peter

    1. Read Matthew 26:31-35. Do you think that Peter is telling the truth? (Read John 18:10-11. In John's account of Jesus' arrest, Peter draws his sword, he is willing to die for Jesus. He is telling the truth.)

      1. How is Peter different than Judas? (Peter is not acting to benefit himself.)

    2. Let's skip down after Jesus' arrest. Read Matthew 26:57-58. Is Peter still showing great courage?

    3. Read Matthew 26:69-75. Yesterday, I read some good intentioned person sharing about how we need to work hard against sin, that we were facing Satan, and we better be up for the fight (Jesus helping us, of course). What is Peter's failure? What character defect does he display? What flaw in his personality is the great problem? (Peter was fully on-board with Jesus. He was willing to fight and die. But, he was confused about Jesus not fighting and Jesus talking about eating His body and drinking His blood. Peter did not know what to think.)

      1. What, then, should Peter have done? (Simply trusted Jesus.)

    4. Let's go back over our study. In the dispute between the disciples and the woman over the best use of the perfume, who was trusting Jesus and who was trusting in their own judgment? (The disciples were trusting their own judgment.)

    5. In the account of Judas betrayal, who is Judas trusting? (Himself. He thinks he knows more than Jesus.)

    6. In the record of the Last Supper, what is Jesus' point about eating His body and drinking His blood? (Salvation comes only through Jesus. He is the sacrificial Lamb of the sanctuary service. He is the only path to salvation.)

    7. Peter does not think he is smarter than Jesus. Although he was willing to die, somehow he made a mess of things and betrayed Jesus. Tell me what Peter should have done to avoid this outcome? (Re-read Matthew 26:31-33. Peter should have put away his pride and asked Jesus, "How can I avoid doing that? Tell me what I need to do to fully support You rather than betray You.")

    8. Friend, I don't think it is good advice to put up your fists and fight Satan. I don't think it is good advice to focus on hunting down and eliminating every sin in your life. The focus of your life must be to trust God, even when all of the world seems out of control. You can start that right now by asking the Holy Spirit, every day, to guide your every decision and your every thought so that you will make it a habit to trust God.

  5. Next week: Crucified and Risen.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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