“And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him. And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.” (Mark 14:10-16)
In Mark 14 we have come to that solemn evening which preceded the most significant event in history. We should always read the things recorded here with great care, asking God the Holy Spirit to be our Teacher, asking him to inscribe the lessons in these verses upon our hearts with the finger of omnipotent grace.
From old eternity, before the worlds were made, the Lord God ordained the sacrificial, sin-atoning death of his darling Son at Calvary. He predestined the time, place, and means of his Son’s death as well as its sure accomplishments. God set forth his Son to be the propitiation for our sins, to satisfy his justice for the sins of his people, to put away our sins, so that he might be both just and the Justifier of all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The holy, just, and true God demands satisfaction for sin. Satisfaction could be made only by the sacrifice of his dear Son. Therefore, as it is written, “When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
The Lord Jesus lived as our representative for 33 years in perfect righteousness. He worked out a perfect righteousness for us. But his obedience in life alone could never save anyone. Justice must be satisfied. Our debt had to be paid. Our sins must be punished to the full satisfaction of divine justice. Therefore, “In due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
The time had come for the observance of the passover. Therefore, the Master sent two of his disciples to Jerusalem in preparation for this ordinance of divine worship. What are the lessons set before us in this passage of Inspiration by God the Holy Spirit?
First, Judas is held before us as a glaring example of false faith. There are many in the visible church of God like Judas, many profess faith in Christ who do not possess faith in Christ.
“And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him” (vv. 10-11).
Like Judas, many men and women feel much, experience much, and do much in religion in the name of Christ, whose faith is but a false faith, a satanic delusion. It is impossible to imagine a greater, more glaring example of this fact than Judas Iscariot. J. C. Ryle rightly observed, “If ever there was a man who at one time looked like a true disciple of Christ, and bade fair to reach heaven, that man was Judas.” — Judas was personally chosen by Christ himself to be an apostle. He was a close companion of the Son of God for three years. He was an eye-witness to the mighty works and miracles of the Lord Jesus throughout his earthly ministry. Judas was a fellow-laborer with Peter, James, and John for three years. He was doctrinally orthodox, as doctrinally orthodox as the rest of those men who were personally taught the gospel by the lips of the Lord Jesus. He was sent forth with the others to preach the gospel and perform miracles in the name of Christ. Judas was highly regarded by all the other apostles, so highly regarded that he was made the church treasurer, so highly regarded that even when the Lord Jesus said “One of you shall betray me,” not one of them suspected Judas! Yet Judas was apostate, a child of the devil all along. He departed from the faith completely. He betrayed the Son of God with the kiss of a friend!
If we compare Mark’s account with what we are told in John 13:27 of Satan entering into Judas, it seems obvious that Mary’s act of pouring her ointment out upon her Savior’s head caused such rage in Judas that it became the incentive that moved him to perform his vile deed. How often that grace the Lord gives his chosen stirs the malice of the reprobate (Acts 7:54). Judas must have gone from Bethany into Jerusalem, immediately after the Lord’s commendation of Mary for her good work. Remember, the chief priests were in council at Jerusalem when this took place (v. 1). Once Judas made his hellish deal with the chief priests, to cover his diabolical purpose, he returned to the disciples and sat with them at the supper.
How can we account for the conduct of this man? Was he once saved and then lost at last? Nonsense! Those who speak like that know nothing of the grace of God. When God saves, he saves forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). He gives eternal life; and those to whom he gives eternal life shall never perish (John 10:28).
Judas was a tare sewn among the wheat, a goat among the Lord’s sheep, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He had the garments of religion, but not the garment of salvation. He had the doctrine of Christ, but not Christ. He had the religion of Christ, but not redemption.
Though he professed to be a disciple of Christ, Judas was a covetous man. “The love of money” was the cause of his fall. Covetousness was his ruin. That same groveling covetousness which enslaved Balaam and turned Gehazi into a leper brought Judas to utter apostasy and to hell. The Holy Spirit tells us plainly that “He was a thief” (John 12:6). Judas stands before us as a glaring commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10. — “The love of money is the root of all evil!”
Do not be content with anything short of the true grace of God in Christ. Great knowledge, great gifts, great experiences, great privileges, an outwardly holy life, church membership, power in prayer, preaching, and witnessing are all useless things, if we are not converted. We must be born again, made righteousness, and converted by the grace of God.
“Beware of covetousness!” Covetousness is a sin that eats like a cancer. It is the most heart-hardening of all idolatries. If we indulge this lust of the flesh, there is no end to the wickedness into which it will lead us. May God give us grace to be content with such things as we have (Hebrews 13:5). Money is not the one thing needful. Christ is!
How do we account for Judas’ behavior? Judas was a sinner, a fallen child of Adam, apt to be taken captive by Satan at his will. Who can comprehend the enormity of the fall? Let all who have experienced God’s rich mercy in Christ ever give thanks to him for his precious, free, distinguishing grace (John 13:18; 1 Corinthians 4:7).
Christ is God
Second, we have before us another of those many displays of the fact that the man Christ Jesus really is himself God.
“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.”(vv. 12-16).
Throughout his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ claimed that he is God. The Scriptures everywhere assert that he is God. In fact, if he is not God, he was not a good man, but a liar and an imposter; and we are yet in our sins. He who is our Savior and Redeemer must also be our God. Only one who is both God and man could put away sin.
Frequently, this man, Jesus of Nazareth, demonstrated in the clearest manner possible the attributes of divinity, by which he enforced his claims. Who but the omnipotent God could raise the dead with nothing but the words of his mouth, the touch of his hand, or the will of his heart? Who but the Creator God could multiply a few loaves and fishes to feed thousands so completely that none wanted another bite and twelve baskets of fragments remained? Who but the all-knowing, omniscient God could have known that his disciples, upon entering Jerusalem, would find a man carrying a pitcher into a specific house, with a room large enough for him and his disciples to keep the passover together? Jesus Christ the man is himself God over all and blessed forever!
Preparation for Worship
Third, we have before us an example of the fact that the worship of God requires preparation and sacrifice. In order to keep the feast of the passover and worship God, our Lord and his disciples must go to Jerusalem. There it was common practice for people to prepare and rent out rooms to the multitudes who came in from outside the city.
Our Lord and his disciples did not live in luxury. They purposefully avoided anything like a show of wealth. However, when it came to worshipping God, keeping the feast of the passover, no ordinary place would do. He sent his disciples ahead of time to find the finest, most well-prepared, well-furnished place in town. One of the old writers suggested that the words “furnished and prepared,” mean that the room was beautifully adorned and laid with carpets. Once the disciples found this large upper room, beautifully adorned and laid with carpets, they were commanded — “There make ready for us.” Robert Hawker reminds us that the keeping of the passover required considerable preparation. He wrote…
“By the disciples’ making ready the Passover, I should apprehend they bought a lamb to celebrate this feast; and as the law enjoined, they must have carried it to the court of the temple for slaughter, and there burnt the fat upon the altar, sprinkling the blood upon it, before they brought it home to the house where it was to be eaten. And I should apprehend also, that the roasting it whole, and the bitter herbs, and bread and wine, were all included in what is said of the disciples’ making ready before that Jesus came in the evening to sit down with the twelve. See Exodus 12 throughout. Deuteronomy 16:1-8.”
In all this we have a vivid portrayal of something woefully neglected in our day — Preparation for Worship! How little thought is given to the seriousness of public worship and our need to prepare ourselves for the worship of God! This is a matter about which much needs to be said.
As the passover had to be kept at Jerusalem, if we would worship God, we must come to the place where he has established his worship. I know that God is Spirit, and we worship him in Spirit. But I also know that we must worship him in truth. We cannot worship God in falsehood. We cannot worship God apart from the ministry of his Word in the assembly of his saints, where he has established his Word and his worship.
God detests profaneness, irreverence and carelessness in his presence. We cannot and will not worship him without preparation (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2; James 1:19-21). When we come together with God’s saints for public worship, we should remember that we are coming into the house of God to hear from and worship God Almighty in all the splendor, beauty and glory of his holy being. We must see that we give him the reverence of our hearts.
Let us ever come to God’s house prepared to worship. We should prepare our hearts, our bodies and our minds to worship God. This may mean cutting out some weekend recreation, or curtailing our hours of work in order to get enough rest so that we do not come to the house of God tired and sleepy. If people stay up late on Saturday night, sleep late on Sunday morning, and rush into the house of God without thought or preparation of heart, they are not likely to worship God. More often than not, their minds will wander in a thousand directions until, weary from lack of rest, they go to sleep. God deserves better!
We ought to come to the house of God, the seat of public worship, promptly. Men and women have a thousand excuses for being late for worship services, but these same people get to work every day on time, get their children dressed, fed and off to school on time, and get to an appointment at the doctor’s on time. Why do people persistently come to the house of God late? – Because they do not consider the worship of God to be a matter of great importance. If our souls, the gospel of Christ, the worship of Christ and the glory of Christ are important to us, we will arrange to come to the house of God with promptness.
Would you be late for an appointment with the President of the United States, the Queen of England, or any dignitary? Tardiness for such an appointment would be embarrassing to you and intolerable before your royal host. Dare we treat the King of heaven with less regard?
We should always come praying for grace to worship. We should seek grace from the Lord to worship in the Spirit. We are to pray for God to speak to our hearts through his Word, in the prayers that are offered and by the songs that are sung. We are to pray for those who lead the congregation in worship, that they may be led of the Spirit, and for the man who preaches the gospel, that he may preach in power. We should pray for ourselves and our brethren, that we may see, hear, worship and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
We should always come to the house of God for prayer and praise. We must be prepared to worship when we come. We are to put the cares of the world, as much as possible, out of our minds, and sit before the throne of God with humility, wonder, attention and reverence. No disturbances or distractions of any kind are to be tolerated. It is unthinkable that men and women who hold God in reverence would run in and out, talk, allow their children to play, or disrupt the worship of God with crying babies, while the Word of God is being read, the praise of God is being sung, the message of God is being delivered, or the throne of God is being supplicated!
The keeping of the passover involved considerable personal sacrifice; and we can never worship God without personal sacrifice. Read Malachi 1 and understand this: — God almighty will not be worshipped with our leftovers! He deserves the best of our time, our attention and our property. If we bring less, we need not expect the God of Glory to receive it!
Christ our Passover
Fourth, let us rejoice to remember that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” That fact is stated in 1 Corinthians 5:7; and it is beautifully illustrated here. It was no accident that our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the very day that the paschal lamb was sacrificed. This was not a fluke, a matter of lucky timing, or the result of blind fate or chance!
This came to pass as it did by the hand of God. He predestinated it in eternity and arranged it in providence. It was thus arranged because God would make it manifest that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, is the true Passover, of whom the Old Testament paschal lamb was but a type, picture, and prophecy. Indeed, all the laws, ordinances, and sacrifices of Old Testament worship pointed to Christ, were fulfilled by Christ, and have been forever abolished by Christ as a way, means, or grounds of worship.
The passover was a reminder of deliverance from bondage, darkness, and tyranny, according to the promise of God made with a covenant head long before the bondage ever began. The passover was a reminder of special, particular redemption by the life’s blood and violent death of an innocent lamb. The passover was a reminder of blood sprinkled, applied to every house in Israel, by the commandment of God.
In Exodus 12:23 we read, “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.” Most of the commentators I have consulted give the impression that as the destroyer went through the land of Goshen, whenever he saw the blood of the lamb applied to the door posts and lintel of a house, he simply skipped by that house. But the words “pass over” mean something else. They mean “jump, or leap against.” In other words, when the blood was applied to the house, the Lord God himself, Jehovah (God who saves), jumped against the door of that house to protect it from the destroyer! What a picture! Child of God, try to grasp this, — He who is himself the mighty God has jumped over your door and stands between you and the destroyer!
None were safe on the night of the Passover, except those who personally ate the slain lamb. And so it is with regard to the crucified Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. None are safe, except those who eat his flesh and drink his blood. None are safe, except those who personally trust the Son of God.
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever”
All for whom the paschal lamb was slain had the blood applied by the father’s hand, ate of the lamb personally, and came out of Egypt by God’s almighty, stretched out arm, at exactly the time God had ordained. That is a very clear and precise picture of our redemption by Christ. It is a threefold redemption: — Redemption by Divine Purpose, — Redemption by Divine Purchase, and — Redemption by Divine Power.
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