Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 2 February 21:
Matthew 27:22 – “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.’”
Matthew makes reference to the fact that Jesus’ betrayal, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrected and ascension (and Final Advent) were all prophesied in the Old Testament – a couple of the most obvious and detailed prophecies will be provided below for your additional meditation today. In this instance, the prophecy mentioned in Matthew is found in our Bibles in Zechariah 11:12, 13 (not Jeremiah as stated in Matthew 27:22), causing many to question whether Matthew slipped up in his Bible verse memory. Most likely Matthew references Jeremiah because the Jews broke the Old Testament into three parts — the Law, Writings, and Prophets. (Luke 24:44) The Prophet scroll began with Jeremiah, hence Matthew’s reference.
Zechariah 11 is an interesting chapter. The sheep reject the shepherd so, the covenant between the sheep and shepherd is annulled (Zechariah 11:10), and those sheep doomed for destruction are then led by a foolish and worthless shepherd who devours them. Of Himself, Jesus said to the people —
“’I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.’ There was again a division among the Jews because of these words.” (John 10:11-19)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who was rejected by the Old Covenant sheep.
The Old Covenant is annulled, and through the blood of Christ we can enter into the New Covenant of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus –
- Luke 22:20 — And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
- Hebrews 8:13 — In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Matthew further records, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:51) In the New Covenant of Christ, we have complete access to God and the Holy of Holies –
- Hebrews 10:19-22 — Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
However, as John records above – “There was again a division among the Jews because of these words.” Some will choose to follow the Good Shepherd, and some will put their faith in foolish and worthless shepherds who only devour. Everyone will make a choice. No one can follow too shepherds, and there is only one Good Shepherd, only one who lays down His life for His sheep. Those who choose not to decide have still made a choice not to put their faith in the Good Shepherd and follow Him.
For further meditation and amazement, consider the below verses of Old Testament prophecy –
Isaiah 53 — Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Psalm 22 — My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning…? All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him…!” Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen…! You who fear the Lord, praise him…! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 Feb 21: Today, rejoice in your salvation through Jesus and your complete access to God. Read Psalm 23 and rest in your salvation. Focus on following the Good Shepherd closely today, and don’t be concerned about the wolves around you.