Let us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 26:1-29.
Last week’s look at the first part of Matthew 26 ended with Jesus Instituting the Lord’s Supper. Acknowledging differing doctrines regarding the Lord’s Supper, we decided to take the opportunity to focus more on the New Covenant being instituted by the Blood of Jesus on the Cross by closing out the post with Hebrews 8 & 9.
As we continue working through Matthew 26, we see Jesus and His disciples leave the house after supper and a hymn. Jesus now looks to prepare His disciples for what is about to take place.
Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial
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.”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.
In last week’s post, we saw the example of the false teacher, the false prophet, the anti-christ in Judas Iscariot. We saw the strong judgement against him. Here we see something different… the weakness of the flesh of man. Though these men have faith in Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God, their hearts will fail them and they will scatter, as it is Written. Here, again, we see Jesus declare His death and also His resurrection, though they cannot fully understand what is being said. Peter, bold Peter, declares that he will never fall away. Was it pride working in Peter? Perhaps, but I don’t think that was the major factor. Take every memory you’ve ever had of when you’ve declared “I’ll never hurt you, leave you, forget you, etc.” to a friend, loved-one, or romantic interest and then consider applying that sentiment to the Son of the Living God. Peter doesn’t understand why Jesus would be leaving them, let alone arrested and put to death as a criminal. As I grow older, I see myself more and more in Peter’s failings and I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit recorded them for us. Peter loved Jesus, and was certain he’d rather die than deny Him, but he didn’t know himself like Jesus knew him. Jesus tells him, you will deny me three times before the rooster crows. Now, there are some who try to make an issue of the differing references in the Gospels to the crowing of the rooster. The important thing here is that after the third denial, a rooster does crow and Peter does notice it and remembers the LORD’s Words… and it absolutely breaks him. We will see how that plays out shortly.
Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Is sorrow a sin? No. Does Jesus understand our sorrows? More than you could ever imagine. He knows. To my knowledge, I don’t own any “red-letter” editions of the Bible. I’ve repented of treating the red letters as though they were “more Scripture” than the rest. However, I wanted to really highlight this prayer. It is both prayer request and humble submission to the Will of the Father. Don’t ever… EVER… allow someone to accuse you of having little faith because you pray, “not my will but Your Will Father” or “If it is Your Will…” (or something to that effect). Sorry, that’s a personal hot spot for me. Let us continue. The disciples here (Peter, James & John of Zebedee) are weak. Our flesh is weak. We don’t pray as we ought, we don’t worship as we ought, we don’t keep watch as we ought. His Grace is sufficient for us, for while we slumber in our weakness, He is faithful and He is our advocate, our propitiation, and our Redeemer.
Matthew 26 (ESV) | Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
It is interesting that neither Mark or Luke gives us the identity of the sword wielder nor the servant. The Gospel According to John (Ch 18) tells us it was Simon Peter who drew his sword and struck Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Notice the particular correction Jesus issued to Peter. It isn’t about the evil of the sword… it’s about faith in the Will of God the Father. The arrest of Jesus is according to the Will of the Father, as was His betrayal, death, and resurrection. Fighting now would only lead to Peter’s premature death… and God has plans for His Apostles. Those who twist this passage into a judgement against those whose vocation is in the armed services do both them and this text injustice. The point of this passage is Faith… faith in the Will of God… faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross.
Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council
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 Man seated 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?”
We’ll close out this post by reviewing the prophesy of Isaiah in chapter 53, but for now I want to point out the lesson Peter taught in his Epistle.
1 Peter 2:21-25 (ESV) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Peter was an eye-witness to what he is writing. My heart goes out to him, because this would turn out to be one of the roughest nights for him… and the next several days would be the most painful days of his life, I’m sure. Notice, however, that the Holy Spirit has clearly instructed Peter on what it was he witnessed there in that courtyard. Amen.
Regarding the trial, I’d like to point out here that Matthew records Jesus not only confessing His identity as the Christ, the Son of God, but He also proclaims to the unbelievers that they will not see His face until He returns in Judgment. They should have been rending their garments in repentance, instead they played the part of piety to justify their murderous intentions.
Matthew 26 (ESV) | Peter Denies Jesus
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.
Broken. Knowing that Jesus knew him better than he knew himself, and all of his blustering about how he would never deny Jesus… and his utter and complete failure to keep his promise… broken. That must have been a truly bitter cry. Though the chapter ends here, let’s keep reading to catch up to the fate of the Betrayer.
Matthew 27:1-10 (ESV) | Judas Hangs Himself
27 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. 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. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
Peter had faith in Christ Jesus, and loved Him, but in his flesh he tried to manage the situation somehow and wound up denying Jesus 3 times, just as Jesus had told him he wold. Peter failed and was broken by his failure. Judas lacked faith. Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas stood condemned. Judas repented, so to speak, in that he changed his mind, but rather than turn to Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, he instead turned to the chief priests and the elders… those who paid Judas to betray Christ… those who Jesus openly rebuked for their false teaching and self-righteousness. And having turned to these false teachers seeking forgiveness, they cast him out like a stray dog, to take care of it himself. So Judas was destitute, rotting in his own sin and transgressions… yet rather than seek forgiveness from the Way the Truth and the Life, he chose to hang himself.
That closes out this week’s post on quite the somber note. We know Peter is forgiven, comforted, and restored in due time. For our closing thought, let us look to what we see written in Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53 (ESV)
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Until Next Week
Next week we’ll be working through the remainder of Chapter 27, the crucifixion and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ. I do hope you join us for that. In the meantime, spend some time in the Word and in fellowship with the Body of Christ. Love God, Love Neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,