15th-19th May: Matthew 26; Psalm 7
15th May: Matthew 26:1-13
Jesus was on His way to the Cross (2). His death was the direct result of the hatred of men (3-4). It was also the supreme demonstration of the love of God (Romans 5:8). In verses 6-13, we read of a woman who loved Jesus very much. Jesus was deeply moved by her great love for Him. He wanted everyone to know about her deep devotion to Him: 'Truly, I say to you, wherever this Gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her' (13). We read in Acts of the advance of the Gospel (1: 8). Great crowds became believers (2:41; 4:4; 6:7). In all of this, Jesus says to us, 'Don't forget the woman. Don't forget her love'. Love for Jesus - simple, sincere, childlike love - this is the most important thing of all: 'O for grace to love Him more' (Church Hymnary, 676).
16th May: Matthew 26:14-35
Peter and Judas Iscariot had something in common. They both failed their Lord (14-16, 34). Things turned out very differently for them (27:3-5; Acts 2:38-42). When we fail the Lord , we find ourselves at a cross-roads. We can turn to Him. We can turn away from Him. In view of His great love for us - His 'blood' has been 'poured out for the forgiveness of sins' (28) - how can we turn our backs on Him? How can you and I say 'No' to such love? There is no reason why we should say 'No' to Him - yet we do! Do we doubt that He is there for us? Do we wonder if He really loves us? What about you? Do you think that He cannot or will not forgive your sins? He can and He will. That's why He died - 'for the forgiveness of sins' (28).
17th May: Matthew 26:36-56
Jesus' suffering is increasing. What pain His disciples caused Him. Three times, He 'found them sleeping' (40-45), 'My betrayer is at hand' (46), 'all the disciples forsook Him and fled' (56)! Was this the end of the road for His disciples? No! With one exception - Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus still called 'friend' (50), the others became men of prayer (Acts 1:13-14). They stood with Peter as he preached the Gospel, as he led many sinners to the Saviour (Acts 2:14,37-38). Jesus loved His disciples. He died for them. Then - after Jesus was 'glorified' - the Spirit was 'given' to them (John 7:39). The fleeing disciples became men 'on fire' (Acts 2:3). No more 'fleeing'. Now it was 'flowing' - 'rivers of living water' (John 7:38). 'Blaze, Spirit blaze. Set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow. Flood the nations with grace and mercy' (Mission Praise, 445).
18th May: Matthew 26:57-75
'Peter followed Him at a distance' (58). He didn't want to get too close! Keeping your distance from Jesus leads to trouble! Trouble was not the end of Peter's story. Three times Peter denied the Lord (69-75). Three times Jesus asked him, 'Do you love me?', three times Peter answered Jesus, 'I love You' (John 21:15-17) - For each denial, an opportunity to re-affirm his love for Jesus. Three thousand souls won for Christ (Acts 2:41) - For each denial, one 'thousand souls' brought to Christ. The contrast between the 'Peter' of the Gospels and the 'Peter' of Acts is striking. When Jesus first met Peter, He said, 'You are Simon...You shall be called Peter' (John 1:42). 'Peter' means 'rock'. Peter's confession of faith - 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God' (16:16) - is the Rock on which our faith is built. With Peter, let us confess Christ.
19th May: Psalm 7:1-17
Scripture speaks to us of both judgment and salvation (6,10; Hebrews 9:27-28). The Gospel brings salvation, - 'God sent the Son... that the world might be saved...'. There is also a warning - 'he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God' (John 3:17-18). The Lord does not wish 'that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance'. Nevertheless, there will be 'the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men' (2 Peter 3:9,7). What is happening here on earth? - 'the wicked man...makes a pit...and falls into the hole which he has made' (14-15). What does God say about this? - 'If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword...' (12), 'God... commands all men everywhere to repent' (Acts 17:30). God calls for 'repentance' and 'faith in our Lord Jesus Christ' - 'Repent and believe the Gospel' (Acts 20:21; Mark 1:15).