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Jesus Suffers, Dies, and Rises Again
(chapter 26, verse 1 through chapter 28, verse 20)
The chief priests and the elders plot against Jesus
Matthew chapter 26, verses 1-5
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”
Tuesday of Holy Week was finally coming to a close. It had been a long day of preaching and teaching and confronting his adversaries. Now Jesus wanted his disciples to know that he knew what was going to happen next. Jesus was not merely submitting to circumstances beyond his control. He would not die on the cross as a helpless victim of man’s injustice, but as the one who fulfilled all the demands of God’s justice. He had predicted this before in chapter 16, verse 21; chapter 17, verses 22 and 23; and chapter 20, verses 18 and 19; but now, in addition to telling his disciples what was going to happen, he told them when. “The Passover is two days away.” On Thursday night he would be handed over to be crucified.
Matthew displays a sense of humor, or at least a sense of irony. Right after Jesus announced that he would be handed over to be crucified on the Passover, Caiaphas and his cohorts determined that Jesus must not be put to death during the Feast. So when did it end up happening? During the Feast—just as Jesus had said that it would. The chief priests and the elders might have thought they had everything under control, but they were instruments in the hand of him against whom they were plotting (see Psalm 2). Without their knowledge and against their will, God actually used their wicked deeds to carry out his plan of redemption. That fact provides no excuse for their sin, but the death of Christ made atonement even for the most shameful crime of these Sanhedrists.
There is a further irony in the fact that the men who were plotting against Jesus were the religious leaders of the Jews. The men who should have been Jesus’ most devoted followers were his most vicious and bloodthirsty enemies. Long ago they had decided that Jesus was a serious threat to their authority and influence over the people. Since their repeated efforts to discredit him had been completely unsuccessful, they finally decided that he would have to die (see John chapter 11, verses 45-53).
The reason they did not want to put Jesus to death during the Feast was that they were afraid a riot might break out among the people who admired Jesus. It is estimated that the population of Jerusalem at this time was somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000. But several hundred thousand pilgrims would come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It was a volatile situation, and riots were not unprecedented.
Many of the people admired Jesus because they had been impressed by his powerful preaching and they had seen or heard about his mighty miracles. Even the leaders of the people could not deny that Jesus was performing miracles. But no matter how overwhelming the evidence became that Jesus was speaking and acting with divine authority, they stubbornly refused to be convinced. They were determined to silence him. For not only did they refuse to believe in him, they did not want anyone else to believe in him either. They would rather cast themselves into eternal damnation than admit that they had been wrong. For everyone knew that Jesus had denounced their hypocrisy in no uncertain terms (see chapter 23).
They hated Jesus because he had called them to repentance instead of praising them. He associated with tax collectors and sinners instead of aligning himself with the Sanhedrin. In their hatred they did not hesitate to resort to treachery and murder. It was no longer a question of right and wrong. If they had had evidence that Jesus was guilty of some crime and was really worthy of death, they would have considered the charge at a regular public meeting of the full Sanhedrin. But they held a private meeting in the palace of the high priest because they needed to do some brainstorming to see if they could come up with an excuse to arrest Jesus and kill him. And even though they had been plotting the whole thing ahead of time, they were still searching for false witnesses to testify against Jesus after the trial had begun (see chapter 26, verse 59).
These men were the religious leaders of the Jews, and yet all the Passover meant to them was that the influx of people would make it a risky time to put Jesus to death. They were blind to the significance of the death of the Passover lamb. They were concerned about remaining ceremonially clean so they could eat the Passover (see John chapter 18, verse 28), but it never occurred to them that their sin of premeditated murder would render them unworthy to eat the Passover. Even among themselves they tried to justify their plot in terms of “national security” (see John chapter 11, verse 50), but their self-serving motives were obvious.
Jesus is anointed at Bethany
Matthew chapter 26, verses 6-13
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
All four gospels record an account of a woman anointing Jesus. It seems that Mark chapter 14, verses 1-9 and John chapter 12, verses 1-11 are slightly different versions of the event Matthew records here, while the anointing described in Luke chapter 7, verses 36-50 is an altogether different incident that took place earlier in Jesus’ public ministry.
This is the only time Simon the Leper is mentioned, so we do not know much about him. But it seems reasonable to assume that if he lived in a house, and invited people who did not have leprosy to come and eat with him, he must have been a former leper. Perhaps Jesus had healed him of his leprosy. That would have made him something of a celebrity in the little village of Bethany.
Bethany was also the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. John tells us that the woman who anointed Jesus was Mary. Because the perfume she used to anoint Jesus was very expensive, we get the impression that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus may have been wealthy.
The alabaster jar was most likely a sealed container with a long neck. It would have contained only enough perfume for one application. So the neck had to be broken off when the perfume was poured out. Mark and John tell us that the perfume was “pure nard,” which was extracted from the root of a plant that grew in India. No wonder it was so expensive!
Matthew and Mark say that Mary anointed Jesus’ head. John says, “She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” Evidently she poured perfume both on his head and on his feet. By anointing his head, she was honoring him (see Psalm 23, verse 5); by anointing his feet, she was humbling herself in much the same way Jesus would humble himself by washing his disciples’ feet (see John chapter 13, verses 1-17). In those days a respectable woman (especially a woman of wealth) would not have let her hair down in public, but Mary was willing to unbind her hair and perform the service of a slave for Jesus. When she was finished, she arose and moved about the house, and the perfume in her hair spread the fragrance throughout the house. Martha was serving the meal (see John chapter 12, verse 2), and Mary may well have been helping her.
Matthew confesses his own guilt when he says it was Jesus’ disciples who objected to what Mary had done. John singles out Judas Iscariot. It may be that on this occasion Judas (rather than Peter) served as spokesman for the Twelve. Matthew admits that they were all thinking what Judas was saying out loud. Or at least they agreed with Judas after they heard him say it. Their indignation may reflect the fact that it was customary to give alms to the poor in connection with the celebration of Passover.
But John tells us that Judas was not really concerned about the poor; he was a thief who helped himself to the money that was supposed to support all of them (see John chapter 12, verse 6). We are never told how Judas became the treasurer for the Twelve. Considering the fact that Matthew must have had some experience handling money during his days as a tax collector, he might seem like the logical choice for the job. But then again maybe his background as a tax collector was a reason for the others not to trust him at first. Maybe Judas volunteered for the job.
At the very least, the disciples were guilty of bad manners. Jesus must have been embarrassed. He rebuked them and defended Mary, saying, “She has done a beautiful thing to me.” The Greek word that is translated “beautiful” means that what Mary had done was both aesthetically pleasing and ethically praiseworthy. We cannot say for sure that Mary realized she was anointing Jesus for burial while she was doing it. The best of our good works are those we do without realizing how good they are. Maybe Mary began to understand the significance of what she had done when she overheard Jesus explaining it to the disciples.
Jesus says, “She did it to prepare me for burial.” This implies that Jesus already knew there would not be enough time to anoint his body before sunset on Good Friday. The Roman soldiers certainly would not be concerned about giving a proper Jewish burial to a man who had been condemned to die a criminal’s death. Although Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea did the best they could (see John chapter 19, verses 38-42), the women still felt the need to finish the job on Sunday morning (see Luke chapter 23, verse 55 through chapter 24, verse 1). By the time they got to the tomb, of course, Jesus had already risen from the dead. So it was a beautiful thing that Mary did ahead of time, which could not be done later.
It is also remarkable that Jesus could already look forward to the gospel being “preached throughout the world.” This is certainly a hint of the Great Commission he will give to the Eleven (see Matthew chapter 28, verses 16-20). But when we consider the fact that Judea was on the fringe of the Roman Empire and that events in Jerusalem did not make headlines in Rome, it must have sounded preposterous that Mary’s humble act of kindness would become part of the worldwide proclamation of the church. And yet today there are many Christian people who do not recognize the names of the Roman caesars, but they know that Mary anointed Jesus for burial shortly before he was crucified.
Judas agrees to betray Jesus
Matthew chapter 26, verses 14-16
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Two of the Twelve were named Judas. Judas the son of James was also known as Thaddaeus (or as “not Judas Iscariot” in John chapter 14, verse 22). The name Iscariot means “the man from Kerioth.” There was a town in Judah called Kerioth Hezron that was also known as Hazor, and it is described as one of the southernmost towns of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom (see Joshua chapter 15, verse 21). If that was Judas’ hometown, he would have been the only one of the Twelve from Judah, since the others were Galileans.
Judas’ willingness to betray Jesus stands in stark contrast to the attitude of Mary, who had just anointed Jesus for burial. Greed prompted Judas to object that her perfume should have been sold, because if the money had been entrusted to him to distribute to the poor, he could have helped himself to some of it. And greed was certainly at least one of Judas’ motives for going to the chief priests. We can speculate about other reasons why Judas may have done it, but the only hard evidence we have is the 30 pieces of silver.
Luke chapter 22, verses 3 and 4 tells us that Satan entered Judas and prompted him to go to the chief priests. John chapter 13, verse 27 tells us that Satan entered Judas when he received the piece of bread Jesus had dipped in the dish. Greed opens the door for Satan to enter our hearts. Perhaps the apostle Paul was thinking of Judas when he said, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1st Timothy chapter 6, verses 9 and 10).
The question that often comes up is: “Did Judas have a choice?” Jesus says the prophecy of Psalm 41, verse 9, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me,” had to be fulfilled (see John chapter 13, verse 18). Even the price of the betrayal had been prophesied: “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter” (Zechariah chapter 11, verses 12 and 13). Peter says the prophecies of Psalm 69, verse 25, “May [his] place be deserted,” and Psalm 109, verse 8, “May another take his place of leadership,” were also fulfilled in Judas (see Acts chapter 1, verses 15-20). If the psalms were written a thousand years before Judas was born, what choice did he really have? When we ask that question, we begin to delve into mysteries that are too deep for us. But one thing we can say is that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate human responsibility. Judas was not a robot. Judas did what he wanted to do without feeling any external compulsion to do so. He went to the chief priests and volunteered to betray Jesus. This was something like Caiaphas’ prophesying the death of Christ without realizing the full significance of his own words (see John chapter 11, verses 49-52).
Jesus identifies Judas as the betrayer
Matthew chapter 26, verses 17-25
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”
Mark inserts a phrase, which Matthew does not have, to inform us that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the time “when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb” (Mark chapter 14, verse 12; see Exodus chapter 12, verse 6). This means that when the disciples went to make preparations for the Passover meal, they had to purchase a lamb and have it slaughtered. As they watched the blood draining out of the lamb, they got a preview of what was going to happen to Jesus the next day.
The 14th of Nisan was called the day of preparation for the Passover. For Jews the day ended at sunset rather than at midnight. So when the Passover meal was eaten after sunset on the 14th of Nisan, it was already technically the 15th of Nisan. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted for seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan (see Leviticus chapter 23, verses 5 and 6). So there can be no doubt that Jesus used unleavened bread when he instituted the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus does not ask permission to eat the Passover with his disciples in the upper room. He sends his disciples to inform the owner of the house what he intends to do. He takes for granted that there will be no objection. “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24, verse 1). We are reminded of the way he sent his disciples to borrow the donkey he wanted to ride on Palm Sunday (Matthew chapter 21, verses 1 and 3).
That evening, while they were eating the Passover meal together, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Although the other 11 disciples knew nothing about the deal Judas had already made with the chief priests, Jesus knew. And Jesus told them all in order to give Judas a chance to repent. It is significant that Jesus did not single Judas out right away. If you put a person on the spot unexpectedly and in front of his friends, he is more likely to become angry than to repent. That is why Jesus says, “Go and show him his fault, just between the two of you” (chapter 18, verse 5).
By making a general announcement rather than a specific accusation against Judas, Jesus was also inviting the others to examine their own hearts. And it worked. They became very sad. One by one they asked, “Surely not I, Lord?” Even though they had no intention of betraying Jesus, they were not ready to deny that such a thing might happen. The apostle Paul’s admonition fits here too: “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1st Corinthians chapter 10, verse 12).
The Scriptures had to be fulfilled. The Son of Man had to be betrayed. No one and nothing could change that. But that does not mitigate Judas’ treachery. Jesus says, “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!” “Woe” is the same word Jesus used to curse the Pharisees and the teachers of the law in chapter 23, verses 13-36. They say that every man has his price. For 30 pieces of silver, Judas gave up his position as one of the 12 most highly privileged men in the history of the world. When he negotiated the deal, Judas thought he was being well paid. But as it worked out, he himself paid a terrible price. When he realized the enormity of his sin, he despaired of God’s mercy rather than repenting. With a piece of rope he ended his own life. And Jesus says, “It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Because we Americans no longer have much sense of table fellowship, it is difficult for us to comprehend what it meant in Jesus’ day to eat a meal with another person. There were no restaurants where people would go out to eat. Table fellowship took place in the home, usually in an intimate setting. An invitation to share a meal was not a casual thing. That is why the Pharisees were scandalized that Jesus would eat with tax collectors and prostitutes (see chapter 9, verse 11). In the Arab culture today, it is still taken for granted that to eat with someone else amounts to saying, “I am your friend, and I will never hurt you.” All of this contributed to the mood of the moment when Jesus said, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” This table fellowship made Judas’ deed all the more despicable.
It would be easy to get the impression from Matthew that when Jesus told Judas, “Yes, it is you,” everyone in the room got the message. But John tells us, “No one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor” (John chapter 13, verses 28 and 29). Maybe Jesus whispered to Judas. It seems that Jesus was still trying not to embarrass Judas, in the hope that he might still repent. But the next time they saw Judas he was leading a large crowd armed with swords and clubs into the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. The Eleven must have been surprised.
Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper
Matthew chapter 26, verses 26-30
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The disciples did not see a miracle taking place in the upper room on Maundy Thursday evening any more than we see a miracle taking place when we receive the Lord’s Supper in church. Jesus gave his disciples bread and wine to eat and to drink. As he gave them the bread, he did not have to tell them, “Here is some bread for you to eat.” They knew that very well. But they did not know and could not know that together with that bread they were receiving the true body of Christ, the same body born of the virgin Mary, the same body that would be put to death on Calvary the next day. So Jesus had to tell them, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took the cup and passed it around to the disciples. He did not have to tell them, “Here is some wine for you to drink.” They knew that very well. But they did not know and could not know that he was also giving them his true blood to drink, the very blood which would be shed the next day. So Jesus told them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
We like to say, “Seeing is believing.” But if we fail to listen to Jesus, we may as well be blind. We could place the bread under a microscope and run all kinds of lab tests on it, but we would never be able to see or to figure out that the true body of Christ is given to us in union with the bread of the Lord’s Supper. The only way we can know that is to listen to Jesus. “Faith comes from hearing” (Romans chapter 10, verse 17).
We cannot explain how the real presence took place when Jesus instituted the Sacrament, nor can we understand how it takes place whenever we receive the Sacrament, but the words of Jesus are completely clear. As we eat the bread and drink the wine, at the same time, in a supernatural manner that we cannot comprehend, we also eat and drink the true body and blood of Jesus.
But what good does it do to eat and drink Christ’s body and blood? Jesus says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” A number of related passages are all brought into focus here. Before Jesus was born, the angel told Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (chapter 1, verse 21). But the angel did not specify how Jesus would do that. Now Jesus finally explains that his blood will be poured out to atone for sin. That certainly was the point of the Passover lamb and all the other bloody sacrifices of the Old Testament. But it took a while for the disciples to make the connection. And the focal point at which all of these things converge is the Sacrament. Once the light bulb goes on in their heads, they are able to go back and reread the Old Testament with new insight and appreciation. And then it is possible to write the book of Hebrews.
So what good does it do? Not only does the Sacrament make the connection between the shedding of blood and the forgiveness of sins, it also makes the connection between the Savior and the sinner. The salvation that Jesus purchased with his holy precious blood and his innocent sufferings and death is distributed to the individual sinner in the Sacrament. Martin Luther wisely insists that the operative words are “for you.”
The preached Word can be evaded or doubted. “I can see how God would forgive others, but I find it hard to believe he would really forgive me.” But in the Sacrament Jesus gives you to eat and drink his true body and blood, the very purchase price of your redemption. You cannot evade him then. He says to you individually and personally, “Take and eat; this is my body which is given for you. Take and drink, this is my blood, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
It was no accident that Jesus chose to institute the Lord’s Supper as he and his disciples were eating the Passover together. The Passover looked back over the centuries to that great and terrible night in Egypt when the firstborn of all the Egyptians were slain and the exodus of the Israelites began. But the Passover also looked ahead to that great and terrible day when the Son of God would shed his blood to protect us from the plague of eternal death that ravages our world.
Like the Passover, the Lord’s Supper points our attention both to the past and to the future. We look back to Golgotha, and we look forward to heaven. The liturgy reminds us that “our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. . . .” And even as we do this in remembrance of him, he promises us, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
In the Lord’s Prayer, we say to our Father in heaven, “Your kingdom come.” Whether we realize it or not, we are praying for the day when Christ will drink of the fruit of the vine with us in a new way. And he certainly hears our prayer. A preliminary answer to the Second Petition is given to us as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus established his Father’s kingdom by his death on the cross. Jesus promised, “I am with you always” (chapter 28, verse 20). So he comes to us, and the kingdom of his Father comes to us, as he feeds us with his body and gives us his blood to drink for the forgiveness of our sins. The Lord’s Supper is a little foretaste of heaven that we enjoy already here on earth.
The last thing Jesus and the Eleven did before they left the upper room was to sing a hymn together. The common custom was to sing Psalm 115 to Psalm 118. If you have time right now, you will find that it is worthwhile to read through these four psalms while you are thinking about how they fit together with the Passover, the Lord’s Supper, and the events of Good Friday.
Jesus predicts Peter’s denial
Matthew chapter 26, verses 31-35
Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
While they were walking through the city, out the city gate, down into the Kidron Valley, across the Brook Kidron, and up the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane, Jesus kept on talking to the Eleven. He quoted the prophecy of Zechariah chapter 13, verse 7 and applied it to himself and to his disciples. His own death was now less than 24 hours away.
When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane several hours after this, “all the disciples deserted him and fled” (chapter 26, verse 56). And in a way it was good that they did. Not only was it necessary that the Scriptures be fulfilled; Jesus also told the men who had come out to arrest him, “If you are looking for me, then let these men go” (John chapter 18, verse 8). Furthermore, Jesus had to suffer and die alone. The disciples could not help him bear the weight of the sin of the world. If they had taken a heroic stand with Jesus and suffered and died together with him, we might be deceived into believing they had a part in the atonement. It simply would not have been the same if the Roman soldiers had crucified the Eleven with Jesus on Good Friday.
It did not take long for some of them to find one another again. Peter and John went together to the palace of the high priest to see what was going to happen to Jesus. But then they evidently separated again after Peter’s third denial, because John was there at the cross but Peter was not, so far as we know. Nevertheless, by Sunday ten of the Eleven were gathered behind locked doors when Jesus appeared to them. And even though Thomas was not there, they were able to find him and tell him that they had seen the risen Lord.
Divide and conquer is an old tactic, and it works well. Jesus knew that Satan would take advantage of the fact that the disciples were isolated from one another. Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat (see Luke chapter 22, verse 31). So Jesus tried to warn Peter ahead of time, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Peter had plenty of courage and the best of intentions, so long as he was surrounded by the other ten disciples, who echoed his brave words. But, of course, Jesus’ prediction came true. And because Jesus knew all along that it would, it seems clear that his warning was not merely a last desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable. No, Jesus was planting a thought in Peter’s memory that would serve him well. For even though he seems to have forgotten Jesus’ warning by the time he made his way to the high priest’s courtyard, the crowing rooster jolted his memory and moved him to bitter tears of repentance.
There is more than one lesson in this for us. Certainly we can learn something about humility before the words of Jesus and something about repentance. We ought also to be impressed by the value of being together with other believers. We need one another. Especially in view of Satan’s desire to divide and conquer, we listen once again to the familiar exhortation, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews chapter 10, verses 23-25).