April 5, 2021

And He left them and departed (Matthew 16:14).

There are certain texts in Scripture that, when read carefully, send a chill up my spine. One such text is found in the Upper Room Discourse in John 13. Jesus and the disciples had gathered in a borrowed upper room to observe their last Passover together. Jesus, one last time, told the disciples of His impending death. He said, Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me (13:21). The disciples were upset and confused that such a thing would happen, and it would be one of them who would be guilty of the crime.

When the disciples finally questioned Jesus concerning the one who would betray Him, Jesus said, It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it (13:26). When He dipped the bread in the wine and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the Scriptures tell us, Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night (13:30). That last sentence, “And it was night” is profoundly significant, somber, and chilling. Satan had completely taken over Judas. He not only left the well lit upper room to go out into the dark night, but the full darkness of evil had overtaken his mind, soul, and spirit. What horror to be in that condition! And yet we are told that hell will be a place of unfathomable darkness!

When Jesus had ended His last encounter with the elders of Israel by giving them one last parable - the sign of Jonah - the Scripture says, . . . He left them and departed. Why the doublet? Wouldn’t it mean the same if the text said, “He left them” or “He departed”? No. It is repeated for emphasis. Jesus left them (kataleipo: to leave down, to leave behind, to abandon, forsake) and departed (aperchomai: go away, depart). This is as horrific and chilling as Judas going out into the night.

With these words Matthew would have us understand that Jesus was not only not going to deal directly with the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in the matters of grace, mercy, faith, forgiveness, salvation, etc., but He was going to completely abandon them to Satan, to their fate, to their personal destruction. Jesus had had enough of them. They had crossed the line. There was no hope left for them. They were beyond saving. I cannot imagine what that would be like in this life or in eternity. 

“Father, what a horrible thought that You would completely abandon a soul to judgment and destruction. And yet I know that is Your judgment demonstrated toward us when we continue to reject Your love, grace, and mercy. Father, it is unimaginable what the experience is, and will be, for sinners in the hands of an angry God. All the more reason for us to make our way to the lost and share the gospel with them so they will not be destined to that same fate of being abandoned to the night. To Your praise and glory I ask, Amen.”


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