Last week we closed out Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount series as found in the Gospel According to Matthew chapters 5 through 7. It took us several weeks to work through the sermon. The whole time we’ve been pointing out how deeply Jesus was teaching the Law while being the Gospel in the flesh. This weekend, we celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Western holiday of Easter. Today, we are going to skip ahead in Matthew to examine the Gospel of Jesus… how what He did for us saves us and how Only by Him we can know true forgiveness. This will not be exhaustive, so we will work through these passages again when we get to the end of Matthew.
Indeed All Have Sinned…
God sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life on our behalf. He perfectly fulfills the entirety of the Law and the Prophets. Think about that… He did what was and still is completely impossible for us to do, and He did it not to be “an example for us to follow” (for no one can follow that example); rather, He did it so that He could die in our place, paying for our sin, and imputing His righteousness onto all who Believe in Him, by Grace through Faith. Amazing.
Matthew 26 (ESV) | The Plot to Kill Jesus
1 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
Even unbelievers acknowledge (at least here in the West) that the Jewish leaders were responsible for plotting against Jesus. Notice here, though, that Jesus was absolutely clear in what he said to His disciples. He tells them plainly that He was going to be crucified. Despite His clear warning, they didn’t understand the Scriptures that pointed to the cross.
Matthew 26:14-25 (ESV) | Judas to Betray Jesus
14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. 17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I,Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
Judas was one of the twelve. One of the one called by Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. One who had seen everything, heard everything, and was so convincingly “one of them” that the other disciples didn’t see it coming. Judas plotted to betray Jesus. How did he manage to slip away and meet with the chief priests? The text does not say, and it really doesn’t matter. The fact is that he deliberately chose to betray the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver.
These are criminal acts against the Creator, but there is more to come. While it is clear that the world hated Jesus enough to kill Him, and Judas betrayed Him for money (and whatever other motives compelled him), but we’ll see that the other disciples will also fail Him.
Matthew 26:30-32 (ESV)
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Every single one of them will fall away from Him that night. They will flee. They will run. They will be scattered. This is a scary notion, the idea that they would fall away from Christ. Before we go into Peter’s rebuttal and fall into the typical “hot-headed Peter” discussion, I wonder if Peter was reacting more to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 16:
Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his lifewill lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Perhaps he realized there was more at stake than just dying. Jesus had already advised them that saving your own life is pointless if in doing so you forfeit your soul. No doubt all of them are still working out what to do about Judas’s betrayal and its ramifications as Jesus instituted Communion. Maybe this was going on in the background, or maybe Peter was just insulted at the idea that they would not only suffer the Lord to be crucified but that they would all flee in fear for their lives in just a few hours. Whatever the case, Peter doesn’t just object… he swears and oath… to the Son of God. And his fellow disciples who remained did likewise.
Matthew 26 (ESV) cont…
33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Peter presumed to correct Jesus. Not me, Lord, I will never! Even if all of these brothers fall away, Not me. Surely, you can’t mean me, too. Jesus then specifically tells Peter “yes, you, thrice”. Again, Peter swears on his life that he will not deny Christ. My heart breaks for Peter here… I suppose because I know where this story is going, but also because I’ve uttered equally rash, prideful, even boastful statements in my ignorance before. I’ve had them blow up in my face. I’ve seen the hurt and the betrayal in the eyes of a loved one when such an oath is demonstrated as false. I’ve watched the trust and respect drain from their eyes as the truth of my sin and error are revealed. I also know that in my worst moments… none could compare to what Peter is about to face in a few hours.
Matthew 26:57-75 (ESV)
57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him,“You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Manseated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.”74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Oh, dear Peter. He had sworn to Jesus that he would not deny Christ, much less 3 times. However, that very night, not only did he deny it, he swore an oath and invoked a curse on himself in his denial. Indeed, everyone had fallen away from Jesus that very night. All had sinned… even His disciples.
Matthew 27:3-5 (ESV)
3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
Judas “repented” here, but sought to fix the error himself. Judas went to the chief priests and elders (those who hated Jesus and rejected the Son of God) for his absolution, and received none. What is that to us? was their reaction, and See to it yourself was their charge. The world will treat you harshly for repenting, for recanting their views, and for even suggesting that they are wrong. Judas wasn’t just saying he had done wrong, he was telling the chief priests and elders that they shared in his sin… and they turned on him. Indeed, Judas had sinned and was utterly and totally lost… but rather than turn to Jesus, he took his own life.
What takes place next I hope will be covered at your local churches on Good Friday or Easter Sunday services. We will cover this in detail at a later date, but we are in no way a replacement for your local church. I want to follow Peter, our brokenhearted Apostle. For that, we’ll have to jump to the Gospel According to John.
21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Jesus and Peter
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Jesus returned, sought out His disciples, called them to Himself again, and prepared a a meal for them. Then He addressed Peter, directly, and restored him. Relief from our sin isn’t immediate, and each of us will have to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Peter would end up doing this literally. Peter was restored by Grace, by Jesus Christ the Son of God. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. Jesus laid down His life so that in the Resurrection, God the Father wouldn’t see Peter’s sin of denial; rather, He would see the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, imputed to Peter by Grace through Faith.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
That same promise is available to you and to me:
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying ,“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Until Next Week…
I pray you and your families spend time together this weekend. Remember Christ, the Cross, and the Resurrection. Remember your Baptism, remember the Promise of His Return.
Romans 15:5-6 (ESV) 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen. In Christ Jesus,