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Monday, July 21, 2014

Jesus is Arrested



Jesus is Arrested

Matthew 26

 

 

 

Jesus and the disciples are walking to the Garden of Gethsemane while Peter is arguing with Jesus.  “Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You!” Peter fusses.  (Matthew 26:35)  And all the other disciples join Peter insisting that they would never leave Jesus in his hour of need.

 

Jesus had predicted that before the rooster crows in the morning that Peter would deny Him three times.  And Jesus had also mentioned that when he is being judged and crucified all of the other disciples will run off and pretend not to know Him.  Peter and the other disciples did not want to hear this.  They tell Jesus that they would never leave Him: -that they will always be loyal to Him.  . 

 

Jesus told the disciples that He would be raised from the dead and that He would meet them in Galilee afterwards.  So he was already trying to set up a meeting with them after his resurrection.  “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”  Jesus told them. (Matthew 26:32)  But even though Jesus often had discussed his death and resurrection with the disciples, they just didn’t seem to understand!

 

When they arrive at the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus begins to tremble with agony.  He begs the disciples to stay with him while he prays.  “Sit here while I go and pray.  My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.  Stay here and watch with Me.”  (Matthew 26:36b and 38) 

 

Then Jesus prays to his Father: “Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  (Matthew 26:39)  Scripture says that Jesus had the power to stop his death.  He gave it up for us.  “I lay down my life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself…”(John 10:17-18) But Jesus was completely submissive to the will of the Father.

 

Jesus was in agony and prayed most of the night in the Garden of Gethsemane.  But his disciples slept.  Several times Jesus tried to wake them up to sit there with Him and be a comfort to Him, but each time they went right back to sleep. 

 

Finally Judas appeared with a large group of soldiers all carrying lanterns and swords and clubs along with the chief priests and elders.  It was dark and the soldiers couldn’t tell which man was the one they should arrest.  But Judas had agreed with the chief priests that he would give them a sign to point out Jesus.  He would walk up to Jesus and kiss him and that would be the one they would arrest.  Judas threw Jesus away and Scripture says he was no longer a disciple but was replaced by Matthias. (Acts 1)  Judas’ extreme rejection and betrayal of Jesus had consequences.   

 

So Judas, as planned, walked up to Jesus and kissed him and the soldiers grabbed Jesus and started dragging him away.  But in the scuffle, Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest!  He was just trying to defend Jesus, but Jesus stopped him.

 

Jesus reached out and put the ear back on the servant and healed him.  And then Jesus told Peter to put his sword away.  And he said: “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.  I can pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels.”  (Matthew 25:52b-53)

 

 I believe that Jesus was telling Peter – and all of us - that his message – the Christian faith – is not to be defended or advanced with force or with human weapons.  The Christian faith is only to be advanced and defended by love and by prayers and by humility!  “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”  (Zechariah 4:6)  At that point all of the disciples ran away.  I suppose they were afraid that they might be arrested along with Jesus.

 

The soldiers tied Jesus up and dragged him away to Caiaphas, the high priest’s house, where the scribes and elders were all waiting.  But Peter followed Jesus at a distance all the way to the high priest’s courtyard.  And he sat with the servants to see what would happen.

 

The priests and elders were so anxious to have Jesus put to death that they would lie or do just about anything.  But their laws said that an accused person could not be convicted of a crime without several people testifying against that person.  So the priests and elders were trying to get people to give false testimonies against Jesus and they couldn’t find anyone.   

 

Finally the high priest turned and spoke directly to Jesus and said: “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.”  (Matthew 26:63b)  And Jesus answered him: “It is as you say.  Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  (Matthew 26:64)

 

 Here Jesus acknowledges to the high priest and everyone in the assembly that He is indeed the Son of God and He adds that a time will come when they will see Him coming from heaven in the clouds as the Messiah and fulfilling the messianic prophecy of Daniel 7:13

 

All of the priests and elders there in the assembly tore their clothes and said: “He has spoken blasphemy!  What further need do we have of witnesses?  He is deserving of death?”  (Matthew 26:65-66)  Then they spit in his face and beat Him and struck him in the face and made fun of Him.

 

All this time Peter has been sitting outside in the courtyard with the servants and then a servant girl comes up to him and asks Peter if he is one of the ones that was with Jesus.  Peter immediately denies this to the girl and to the crowd nearby and says: “I do not know what you are talking about!”  (Matthew 26:70)  Peter jumps up and starts walking out the gate when another girl sees him and turns to her friends and says that she thinks that Peter was one of the ones who followed Jesus!  When Peter hears this he gets angry and starts swearing and says: “I do not know the Man!”  (Matthew 16:72.)

 

And then an hour or so later some of the people who were standing around the fire with Peter warming their hands insist that he must have know Jesus.  And in between  swearing and cursing Peter insists that he never knew Jesus at all!

 

 And then it happens!  A rooster crows!  And Peter stops and remembers what Jesus had said to him!  “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  (Matthew 16:75)  Peter is so ashamed of himself!  He turns and runs out of the courtyard and weeps bitterly. 

 

Jesus chose these twelve men; these disciples and He held nothing back from them.  These twelve had seen it all – the miracles, the healings, the teachings and the love poured out.  Jesus had given them his power to heal and cast out demons.  And Jesus had given them all of Himself. 

 

But still these disciples were slow to believe.  When Jesus told them again and again that He would be resurrected after his death, they still didn’t get it.  And when Jesus was in agony and depressed and needing his disciples to stay with Him and give him courage  while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, they all went to sleep.  And when He woke them up begging them to stay awake and be there for Him, they went back to sleep again. Do you think Jesus was disappointed with these followers of his? 

 

And when He is arrested and carried off to be tried and murdered, all of his disciples run off and leave Him.  And Peter denies Him three times.  And Judas betrays Him and joins up with the enemies who plan to crucify Him.  And all for thirty pieces of silver!  Do you think Jesus was discouraged with these disciples of his?

 

And a more important question:  Do you think Jesus is ever disappointed with us?  You and me?  Disappointed that we don’t love Him all the way or that we follow Him from a distance?  And discouraged when we deny Him when things get tough and disappointed when He needs us to be there with Him and instead we fall asleep?

 

Do you think Jesus is ever discouraged with us when we run away and don’t do the right thing?  We might lose face or we might have to pay a high price in order to do that right thing.  So can we be counted on to follow Jesus even when we have to pay the high price and carry the cross?  And can we stand up for Jesus even when everyone else is denying Him?  We tell Jesus, “Oh, yes, I will always follow you!”, but will we really?

 

Jesus had imperfect disciples who had lots of problems.  Disciples who disappointed Him and let Him down.  So maybe there is hope for us.  But Jesus still loved them dearly and gave them the keys to the kingdom.  He gave them his Holy Spirit and He gave them everything He had.  If He was so generous and forgiving to his followers back then He will be generous and forgiving to us today when we mess up

 

 What we do matters to Him, so let’s try not to disappoint Him..  Since He has such great love for us, let’s choose to love even when it is so tempting to hate. And let’s follow Him all the way to the cross, even when we may be crucified along with Him.     -    

 

       

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 


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