Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross as the true Passover Lamb; His shed blood brings forgiveness of sins once for all. Jesus, thank You for conquering sin and death. Help us worship You and obey You by making disciples of all nations. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Matthew 25-28
Matthew 25:1–26:16 Again, Jesus’ life and teaching proves to be divisive. When Jesus comes again, the salvation of the righteous and destruction the unrighteous will be complete. Because of this, as Christ’s servants, we should be alert and faithful until He comes, paying special attention to the least of His brothers. Notice the binary nature of Jesus’ teaching. There are only two kinds of people: those in the kingdom and those outside. There are evil murderers, like those who plot against Jesus and betray Him—and there are righteous worshipers, like the woman with perfume; there are sheep, and there are goats.
Matthew 26:17–29 Jesus is the true Passover Lamb. In the Old Testament’s Passover, God set apart the Israelites as His atoned for, purified, and sanctified people (Ex. 19:6). Passover took place in Egypt right before God led Israel out of slavery and into the Promised Land. The Passover is not only a powerful act of God to be remembered, but it also points forward to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Blood was sprinkled on the doorposts of the Israelites as protection against the death of the firstborn in Egypt. Jesus’ sacrificial death, the shedding of His blood, sets people free from sin and death. Jesus now has a new people of God who worship Him through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. All of this means Jesus’ shed blood brings forgiveness of sins once for all. God’s people ought to recognize Him as the true Passover Lamb, regularly remembering His sacrifice in the Lord’s Supper.
THE LORD’S SUPPER
Click below to read through what we believe about the Lord’s Supper, sometimes called communion, and what we believe about baptism.
Matthew 26:30–27:61 Though crucifixions were commonplace in Jesus’ day, it’s undeniable that He died a unique death. Notice all the careful details about His trial, death, burial, and resurrection.
On the way to the cross, where He will drink the cup of God’s wrath against sin, Jesus is deserted by everyone. But He doesn’t abandon His own. He prays for them, even on the cross, and willingly offers Himself to be forsaken by God in their place.
At Jesus’ death, darkness of judgment came in the middle of the day, just as the Son cried out to the Father in agony: “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus’ voluntary death in the place of sinners paid the punishment for sin—and as a result, God opened a way into relationship with Him, signified by the temple curtain torn in two.
Jesus’ true identity was misunderstood, which makes it all the more fascinating that in His death, even the callous Roman soldiers who murdered Jesus were filled with awe. One said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” Nearly all of Jerusalem had failed to recognize Jesus—and now, a group of Gentile Roman soldiers are the one who make the true confession!
Matthew 27:62–28:20 The good news is that King Jesus has risen victoriously from the dead! He has all authority in heaven and earth. With His power and presence, He now sends us out to make disciples of all nations; as we go, we are to baptize new believers in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
- Jesus expects believers to proclaim the gospel of His kingdom (25:14–30). In this life, we’ll likely face risk as we pursue God’s kingdom. Each person should work diligently in the areas God has placed them for a season. With this in mind, how can you more actively pursue kingdom work and integrate it into your daily life?
- Are you currently both being discipled and making disciples? Are you seeking to follow Jesus by learning from someone and seeking to do specific spiritual good to others? Is there something you can do to embrace an intentional discipleship lifestyle? Take time to pray and think of two or three others whom you might ask to join you as you seek to be more active in both being a disciple and making disciples of others.
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- For Jesus, words must be accompanied by actions, so much so that any compassion believers show to each other, they also show directly to Him (25:31–46). Talk with your group leader or accountability partner about ways to do tangible gospel work as well as speak specific gospel words. Spend some time in prayer about this.
- Write out a prayer of thanksgiving to share with your group. Include thanksgiving for the hope we have in Christ. Remember the below benefits of preparing prayers ahead of time. [Spiritual Disciplines, Teaching Simply]
GENERALLY SPEAKING, TAKING TIME TO WRITE DOWN, OUTLINE, OR OTHERWISE PREPARE FOR PUBLIC PRAYERS IS A GOOD IDEA FOR THESE REASONS:
- Spontaneity does not guarantee sincerity just as preparation does not mean hypocrisy or a lack of genuine desire or godly motivation.
- Free (or spontaneous) prayers aren’t necessarily better. Instead, they often end up being a kind of “form prayer” that sounds the same every time. Perhaps time to prepare would prevent the repetition of such spontaneous form prayers.
- When we take time to prepare in advance, we can give careful, concentrated, prayerful, reverent, worshipful, and hopeful attention to who God is in His character and His goodness to us. We can consider our sins and also our real needs, not just those that are immediately urgent. We can jot down items for thanksgiving, and we can consider gospel work in other places. We can include Scripture as we find the disciples doing when they pray in Acts.
- We always want our prayers to remain tethered to God’s Word, especially when leading others in public prayer.
- When we prepare our prayers, we should prepare them prayerfully, so that we aim to communicate with God for others. That communication should be meaningful, heartfelt, sincere, clear, and full of faith.
- Preparing our prayers beforehand shouldn’t mean then reading those prayers to others. Reading isn’t the same as praying.
- When we lead in prayer, we’re speaking to God on behalf of others, so it seems wise to give extra attention to those prayers.
- When we lead others in prayer, we want them all to say “Amen” at the end of our prayers. This is their way to say, “May God make it happen!” We honor others by preparing thoughtful prayers.
- Leading in prayer functions as an informal lesson that teaches others how to pray. People listen and they learn how to pray from our example.
- Corporate singing is also a kind of prayer, as many hymns and songs are addressed to God. These songs are all prepared songs and hymns—and yet we sing them with joy, reverence, enthusiasm, and even sincerity. If singing prayers (songs) in corporate worship can be sincere and meaningful, it’s hard to see why prepared prayers cannot also be sincere.
- Preparing and even writing down our prayers ahead of time doesn’t have to be insincere. On the contrary, it may make them more edifying to us and others and thus more honoring to God.