Here, Matthew shows us two meals that anticipate Jesus’ sacrifice.
In the first meal, an unnamed woman brings expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus to prepare him for burial (Matthew 26:7). Bodies were traditionally prepared after death, but Jesus explains that this anointing has prepared him ahead of his sacrifice.
The second meal is Passover, which was first instituted on the eve of Israel escaping from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:3). During this traditional meal, Jesus calls the bread his body, and the wine his blood (Matthew 26:26). Jesus uses the Exodus story of deliverance to point to a new kind of deliverance that will happen through his sacrifice.
Jesus, then, leaves the meal with his twelve disciples and goes to a garden to pray.
It is there that Judas, the chief priests, and a crowd of armed men arrive in the garden to arrest Jesus (Matthew 26:47). One disciple tries to fight, but Jesus waves him off. Jesus says he has the ability to call on thousands of angels, but he won’t. Why? Because the Scriptures must be fulfilled (Matthew 26:56).
Jesus is taken before the high priest where the chief priests brought false testimonies against Jesus (Matthew 26:59). Jesus doesn’t say a word until the high priest commands him to say whether or not he’s “the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus acknowledges what they’ve said, and that was all it took (Matthew 26:64). Since they believed this was heresy, the religious leaders call for the death penalty.
Why is this good news?
At the first Passover, God instructed his people to kill a lamb. With the lamb’s blood, the Israelites covered their door frames to ensure protection from God’s judgment (Exodus 12:12). They would eat the lamb with unleavened bread as a sign of how quickly they must flee from Egypt. Jesus is our Passover lamb, whose blood has brought forgiveness of sins and whose body is our flight from slavery.
But why did he have to die?
Look at Jesus’ prayer. “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” In the Old Testament, drinking a cup was a common metaphor for the judgment and wrath of God (Isaiah 51:17).
Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath on our behalf. Jesus experienced indescribable agony so that in him we could know unspeakable joy (Romans 3:25).
Jesus could have stopped the angry mob. But he didn’t, because he was on a mission of fulfillment.
This is Jesus, our determined, sovereign Savior who knew he would die on a cross before it happened, yet willfully went through with it.
What a beautiful picture it is, then, to see Jesus prepared for burial by a woman anointing him with perfume. She was willing to accept Jesus’ future death, just as Jesus was. We, too, have a similar opportunity. We can look back to Jesus’ death and, with the eyes of faith, accept what he did on our behalf and anoint him with our praise.
See for yourself.
I pray that the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to see the God who frees us through the sacrifice of His Son. And Jesus as the Passover lamb by whose blood we are forgiven.