Matthew’s Perspective of Power

Why did the disciples abandon Jesus on the night he was arrested? It is easy for us to stand back in judgement of them. We can be disheartened by their lack of courage and the fact that Jesus was left to face his greatest trail–alone.

It is true that they were afraid for their lives…

But maybe it was more than a fear of a death sentence…

Maybe the disciples fled, because they were disenchanted and ashamed of Jesus…

After all, no one likes to align themselves with perceived weakness and disgrace.

Instead we relish the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40: 5)

In reading over the sweep of Matthew’s gospel, I noticed some remarkable details and I found it interesting to think on his perspective of power.

Jesus before his crucifixion, Henry Thomas Bosdet, 1897, Parish Church of St Helier in Jersey, Great Britain. File Source

In the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, after a rather grand genealogy tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to King David, he quickly pivots into the enchanting tale of the “Magi” who traveled “from the east to Jerusalem” in search of the baby Jesus saying:

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

As an adult, Jesus teaches the people to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43); and that “the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.” (Matthew 13:31)

And he shows his power by healing the sick, walking on water and feeding the 5000…

Matthew then paints a picture of the people being so impressed by Jesus’ power that one week before his death, as he enters into Jerusalem, they gather into a grand street festival:

“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road, The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna’ to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21: 8-9)

And by his own confession Jesus states during his interview with Pilate:

“Jesus stood before the governor and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Yes it is as you say,’ Jesus replied” (Matthew 27:11)

But now things are different, and Pilate’s soldiers took Jesus and mocked him:

  Henry_Thomas_Bosdet_painting_of_Jesus_before_his_crucifixion_1“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and  mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.”  (Matthew 27: 28-29)

Because of this the people changed:

“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in  three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matt 27:39)

It is difficult to even imagine the humiliation and shame that Jesus experienced as he hung, naked, on the cross and shouted “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

And yet God is there…

We experience God’s presence when Jesus breathes his last…

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27: 51-54)

It is interesting to think on all these things that Matthew highlighted in his gospel and as I do I begin to see a new kind of power.

God is there with Jesus at the Cross, and his presence becomes a demonstration of true power–the power to change hearts.

When we see true sacrifice, the putting of others needs before our own, it brakes our pride and seers our hearts with an image of perfection, nobility and grace. When we stand in the presence of God’s perfect love, it turns our shame into devotion.

I want to live a life with that kind of grace and I want to align myself to the truth of the power Jesus’ sacrifice has to change the world.

“And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40: 5)

” Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. debhumphreys says:

    You bring out some thoughtful insights into what not only Matthew but maybe most of Jesus’ followers thought when he was crucified. I like to think I would never have abandoned him….but what makes me different than then those that loved and believed in him completely? I am afraid I too would have had moments of disillusionment. Thank you Jennifer.


    1. Yes! Easy to judge these events from the distance of history but when honestly reflect we realize our own lack of faith we demonstrate every day by our worrying and complaining. Thanks for reading dear sister. May God’s peace be with you;)


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