Scriptures

Matthew 26

Introduction

‘When Jesus had finished saying all 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 schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” Matthew 26:1-5

The Plot Against Jesus

After Jesus finished speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and His return, He now prepares His disciples for what was going to happen to Him, Mark 14:1-2 / Luke 22:1-2.

Passover

Both Mark and Luke are even more explicit than Matthew when they state that it was, ‘the first day of unleavened bread WHEN THEY KILLED THE PASSOVER lamb.’ Mathew 14:12 / Mark 14:12, whilst Luke 22:7 states, ‘Then came the day of unleavened bread WHEN THE PASSOVER lamb MUST BE KILLED.’

In the A.V., the verse reads, ‘Now the first day of THE FEAST OF unleavened bread’, Matthew 26:17, but the words in capitals do not occur in the Greek text, and the verse should read, ‘On the first day of unleavened bread, the disciples; Where shall we prepare for thee to eat the Passover (supper)?’

‘When even was come he sat down with the twelve.’ Matthew 26:20. The date was the 14th Nisan, called ‘Preparation’. The Passover meal was eaten in the evening.

1. The 14th of Nisan was the day when all leaven had to be put away.

2. It was the day on which the Lord was arrested after he had left the Upper Room with His disciples, and the day before the beginning of the Passover week.

3. It was still the 14th Nisan when the Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate. ‘They would not enter the Roman ‘Pretorium’, lest they become defiled’, because they had not yet eaten the Passover meal’. John 18:28. Jesus to Judas Iscariot. ‘What you do, do quickly,’ John 13:27.

Note that when Judas left the Upper Room.

1. It was already night, John 13:30.

2. The other disciples thought that Judas had left to buy the things needed for the feast of Unleavened Bread, which began the next day, the first day of the Passover Week, Luke 22:1.

If Judas needed to buy anything it would have to be done on the 14th because the next day was a ‘Sabbath’, a rest day, when he could not possibly have bought anything.

To buy or sell on the 15th Nisan would have been a violation of the Mosaic Law. And remember that the day was the very high ‘Sabbath’ of Passover Week.

Jesus had given Judas the opportunity of abandoning his plans but knowing that he was determined to go through with it, Jesus said, ‘What you intend to do, do quickly’, thus sending him to the Priests to agree with them on the price of betrayal.

It is unlikely that Judas knew that Jesus was aware of his intentions, but the Lord’s words forced his hand, and in so doing Jesus took control of events.

Matthew records that Jesus said to his disciples, ‘After two days is THE PASSOVER and the son of man is betrayed to be crucified.’ Matthew 26:1ff.

Matthew also records that, at a meeting in the palace of the High Priest that same day, when they were planning to kill Jesus, they said, ‘Not on the feast lest there be an uproar’. Matthew 26:5.

Jesus was always in control, John 10:18. Judas was able to lead the Jews to where they could find Jesus. And Jesus knew they were coming to arrest him, but when He decided! John 8:2-3.

Several mistakes are made in trying to work out when the Lord was crucified.

1. For instance, the Passover MEAL, at which the instituted His own Supper. Should not be confused with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Leviticus 23:5-6.

This means that commencing on the 15th day, the feast lasted for seven days, and just as the Israelites continued to eat unleavened bread after they had escaped from Egypt when God ‘passed over’ the land, so their descendants celebrated seven days of ‘the Feast of Unleavened Bread’, after eating the ‘Passover meal’.

Although they were required to eat unleavened bread during those seven days, it was a ‘Feast’ because the people were called upon to ‘rejoice.’ And then the passage continues with the command to offer the prescribed sacrifice, Numbers 28:16-17.

2. The several references to ‘sabbath’ are also a source of difficulty for many Bible students.

It is often overlooked that the word ‘sabbath’ does not refer to the weekly seventh-day alone. The word ‘sabbath’ does not mean ‘seventh’ as some seem to think.

It simply means ‘separation’ or ‘rest’ and any day of the week, which was celebrated as a ‘high day’, was also called a ‘sabbath’, on which the law of the weekly Sabbath also applied.

The sabbath to which this verse refers was especially significant because, being Nisan 15th, it was the Sabbath of Passover Week.

The chief priests were the priests who served in the temple, they were all present for the Passover, John 11:47. Caiaphas was at this time the high priest. Together with the elders, they plotted and schemed secretly to arrest and kill Jesus, John 10:18.

They did it secretly because under Roman law they didn’t have the official right to kill Jesus without the consent of the Roman governor, who was at this time Pilate.

However, they couldn’t kill Him during the festival, Matthew 26:5, just in case it caused a riot among the people, who believed Jesus was who He claimed to be, John 21:46.

Jesus Anointed At Bethany

‘While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of 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.’ Matthew 26:6-7

Don’t Get Confused!

As we approach this text, many people make the mistake of mixing this Simon, with the Simon we find in Luke’s account in Luke 7:36-50. The Simon referred to here in Mathew’s account is the Simon who had been cured of leprosy, and possibly out of thankfulness hosted a dinner in his home in honour of Jesus.

Robertson in his commentary says the following:

‘This anointing has nothing in common with that given by Luke, except the fact of a woman anointing the Saviour’s feet, and the name Simon, which was common. The former was in Galilee; this is at Bethany near Jerusalem. There the host despised the woman who anointed; here, her brother is one of the guests, and her sister is an active attendant. There the woman was a sinner, a notoriously bad woman; here it is the devout Mary who ‘sat at the Lord’s feet and heard his words,’ months before. There the host thought it strange that Jesus allowed her to touch him; here the disciples complained of the waste. There the Saviour gave assurance of forgiveness, here of perpetual and worldwide honour. Especially notice that here the woman who anoints is anticipating his speedy death and burial, of which at the former time he had never distinctly spoken. In view of all these differences, it is absurd to represent the two anointings as the same, and outrageous on such slender grounds to cast reproach on Mary of Bethany.’

Who Was Present On This Occasion?

In John’s account, John 12:1-8, he tells us that Jesus’ feet were also anointed and tells us that the ointment was as ‘nard’, it was extracted from the dried root and stems of the spikenard plant and had the monetary value of ‘a year’s wages’.

He also tells us that the main character who objected to her using it was Judas, and he mentions that Mary was the one wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair.

Lazarus who was raised from the dead was a guest and the woman mentioned in Matthew’s account is Mary, the sister of Lazarus who seemed to understand what she was doing better than all those present and Martha who is serving as we often find her doing. We can also conclude that John himself was present as he refers to the aroma which filled the house.

As Mary was the one who poured it on Jesus’ head, this tells us that she knew something significant was about to happen. She gave the best of what she had to offer, and her respect for Jesus shows us that she accepted Jesus as the Christ and Son of God.

‘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.’ Matthew 26:8-9

It’s clear that Judas was the treasurer and John tells us that he wasn’t really concerned about the poor but more concerned with lining his own pocket, John 12:6.

Matthew and Mark both tell us that Judas found some support among the twelve for his objection, it seems that they too were more concerned with the value of material things. Nothing much has changed today, we still have the poor amongst us.

‘Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’ Matthew 26:10

It’s also clear from this passage that Judas spoke directly to Mary about the waste and I’m sure they would have stepped in to stop her from wasting any more oil on Jesus if Jesus hadn’t stopped them. I love it when Jesus speaks up and defends the innocent as He does here, He even pays her a high compliment.

Mary was more concerned about showing her love and appreciation of Jesus than the others were, and Jesus wasn’t about to stop her. Nothing was too valuable in her eyes for Jesus.

‘The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.’ Matthew 26:11

You can always tell it’s election time in the UK as the political parties begin to promise many good things to come, especially for the poor. In our world today, many countries are poverty struck, we read about it in the newspaper and see ii in front of our eyes on the TV screen. We only have to walk down our city centres to see the hundreds of homeless people sleeping rough on the streets.

I guess the question is, what are we doing about it? What are we doing to help these people?

We will always have the poor among us which means there will always be an opportunity for us to help meet some of those needs, Deuteronomy 15:11 / Mark 14:7 / John 12:8 / Galatians 2:10.

However, the Bridegroom wouldn’t always be in the physical presence of the disciples. The occasion, therefore, justified the use of the precious ointment.

‘When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.’ Matthew 26:12

When we think about the disciples, they have been with Jesus for over three and half years now but never seem to understand anything Jesus spoke about to them concerning His upcoming death, Mary on the other hand seem to have this great insight as to what is about to happen to Jesus.

I can imagine the heartbreak in Jesus’ mind when all this was going on, the disciples didn’t get it because they were too busy arguing amongst themselves as to which one of them would be the greatest, Mark 10:35-45 / Luke 22:24 / John 13.

I believe that men like to look at the facts and the figures, while women seem to be more sensitive to what is going on around them.

‘Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’. Matthew 26:13

What a marvellous acclamation Jesus gives Mary here, it’s one of those prophecies which is often overlooked and dismissed. This humble act of servitude that Mary performed would become the memorial of her love for Jesus, Hebrews 11:4.

She had the right spiritual attitude by giving Jesus the very best she had to offer, which is a lesson we can all learn from. Her name will go down in history because of this one moment with the Christ, as the Gospel is spread throughout the world, her name and her deed will follow along beside.

It’s so easy to focus on the negatives in this story, we could focus on Judas and his attitude, and we could focus on why the disciples seem to agree with Judas. But I’m wondering, what will people say about us when we leave this world? What will be written on your gravestone?

Judas Agrees To Betray Jesus

‘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 deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.’ Matthew 26:14-16

Judas Iscariot is probably one of the most memorable disciples of Jesus, but sadly for all the wrong reasons.

Now I think Judas could have got a lot more. I mean this shows how far Jesus has sunk in his eyes. He could have pushed for much more from the chief priests. 30 pieces of silver were the price of a common slave, Exodus 21:32.

The priests were very aware of what Zechariah wrote, Zechariah 11:12-13, but their anger toward Jesus clouded any objectivity they had in applying prophecy to what they were actually doing.

By the way, have you ever wondered why they needed Judas? They didn’t need Judas to recognise Jesus. They didn’t need Judas to find out where Jesus was. Do you know what my theory is?

Three times in the Gospel of John they sent guards to arrest Jesus and all 3 times the guards couldn’t do it. I think they were beginning to fear that Jesus was un-arrestable.

And they said, “We need someone on the inside, some that can catch Him when his guard is down, someone that won’t surprise Him so that we can get Him before He knows what’s going on.”

And Judas said, “I’m your man.” And Judas got his bargain. And the Jewish leaders got their insider. And Satan got his opportune time to come back and attack Jesus. Because by this point Judas is now the disciple of Satan. And so he makes his deal.

The Last Supper

‘On the first day of the Festival 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, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, 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 you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave 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 from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:17-29

And so we shift now to a few days later and we go to the upper room. All the disciples are gathered together to have a Passover meal, Exodus 12:18-20. The disciples suggest that they prepare for the Passover by finding a place to have the meal together, Luke 22:15.

Jesus knows His time to go to the cross was nearing, Luke 9:51, but His disciples never really understood what He meant. They didn’t understand Jesus Himself was the Passover lamb, Luke 22:7-13.

Dummelow, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The disciples would doubtless be surprised at the proposal of Jesus to keep the Passover a day before the legal time. The disciples were therefore instructed to give the reason, ‘My time is at hand’. The meaning was, ‘My death will happen before the legal time arrives’.’

As they were getting on with the meal, Jesus interrupts and announces that one of them would betray Him, which sent shockwaves through the disciples.

The disciples now know that one of them will betray Jesus, Psalm 41:9. And John says something very interesting, “The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.” John 13:2.

You have to wonder was the blood money on him that night? Were the 30 silver coins in his pocket when he sat down to have supper with Jesus? Something else I think about is this, what was going on in the minds of both men when Jesus washed the feet of Judas?

Judas knew what he said he was going to do and Jesus knew he was going to do it.

What were both men thinking when Jesus washed his feet? I think Jesus was about to get real personal with this battle. I think the Lord was about to make one last appeal to His deserting disciple. Now I want to show you what happened at the Supper because it was a real battle, John 13:18-30.

Notice that Jesus basically said three things. A prediction, an answer and a command.

1. The prediction.

He said, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me” Can you imagine the gulp that Judas had to restrain when Jesus said that? Can you imagine the shock that he had to try and keep from registering when Jesus said that?

This text makes us face the sovereignty of God and the free will of men. Jesus predicted His betrayal but predicted doesn’t mean predestined. In other words, Jesus’ awareness of Judas’ betrayal doesn’t excuse Judas from responsibility for his actions.

God does not design treachery but God can design treachery in His plan. God doesn’t make men do evil but God can use evil men. Now later Judas’ remorse is evident that betrayal was his choice. He did not have to betray Jesus, but God used that betrayal to save the world.

You see the reason made the prediction was to let the other disciples know that He was in control. The situation wasn’t out of hand. He said in John 13:19 “I am telling you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.”

In other words, later they were going to reflect, they were going to look back on that night. And they are going realise that, Jesus saw that coming, it was all part of a plan, He knew what was about to happen.

And they were going to realise He really is the Son of God, He really is in control, He really is the Lord. That’s why Jesus made that prediction.

But right now, they can’t think about that. All they can think about is, “Who! Who would betray Jesus?” And so Peter motions to John and says, “John find out! Who is it?”

I think the disciple’s amazing lack of suspicion about Judas tells a couple of things.

1. It tells us that Judas hid his dishonesty very well.

You can be a bargainer for Christ and other people will never know it.

2. Jesus must have treated Judas as well as any of the other disciples.

If they had seen over the years that Jesus had a problem with Judas, they would have suspected Judas but they didn’t. Because there was nothing about the way Jesus loved Judas that gave them any hint that Judas would sell his Lord.

Why do you think Peter wants to know? I’ll tell you because Peter wanted to take preventative action. Peter’s got a sword. And all he needs to know is who in this room would sell out Jesus.

Lifting one finger Jesus could have saved His life and ended Judas’ like that. Peter would have jumped up and cut off his head so fast, Judas wouldn’t know about it until he sneezed.

Jesus didn’t do that. Instead, He gave an answer that only Judas could respond to. He said in John 13:26 “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” You might ask, well why didn’t they figure it out then?

Well because in that culture it was the custom for the host to honour a special guest by giving him a morsel from his hand. Let me take you into that room for a second and let you see it as you’ve never seen it before.

How many of you have seen a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrait of ‘The Last Supper’? It’s a magnificent work but it’s so wrong. They didn’t sit at a long table, in chairs, with a white tablecloth. Passover was eaten lying on the floor, John 13:13 / John 13:23.

You see they would have a U-shaped table, with the host up at the front, in the very middle. There was someone on the right in a special place of honour. And someone on the left in a very special place of honour. And everybody else would be down the sides. They would lie down on their left elbow and eat with their right hand.

You see that’s why the Bible said in John 13:25 that “John was up against the breast of Jesus.” He didn’t have bad table manners, John was right here, to the right of Jesus. Right up against His breast as they ate. Now let me ask you, who would have been right to the left of Jesus in the very special place of honour?

Somebody so close to Jesus could take a piece of bread and hand it to him. Jesus gave Judas the place of honour at the Passover. And all that the disciples thought that was happening, in fact, we know later from Matthew that Jesus and Judas were able to have a very private conversation.

Because it says in Matthew 26:25, “Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” Then he took that piece of bread, He reached over, and He handed it over to him.”

And I believe He was making a special appeal to Judas’ heart. He was holding that piece of bread there and He was looking right into his eyes.

And both men knew what He was saying, ‘Judas I know it’s you, I know what you’re struggling with, I know what you’re thinking about doing to me Judas, can you go through with it? Can you turn on me like that? Can you sell me out?” John 13:31-38.

The Bible says, “Judas took that morsel and when he did, Satan entered His heart.” As someone once said, ‘it was Judas’ Gethsemane’.

The whole betrayal of Jesus was foreordained, Jesus would suffer the death of the cross, Isaiah 53 / Psalm 22 / Acts 2:23. Jesus says it would be better for His betrayal to have never been born, John 17:12.

Notice that all the other disciples address Jesus as Lord, Matthew 26:22, but Judas simply addressed Jesus as Teacher. Jesus was more than a teacher, He was the Son of God, John 20:30-31.

Jesus was knocking at the door of his heart and Judas threw open the door and told Jesus to stay outside and he invited Satan in. And just like in Gethsemane when Jesus made His decision and the angels came to give Him strength. Judas made his decision and the dark angel showed up that quick, to make sure he didn’t change his mind.

And at that moment Jesus knew that He had lost him. So He gave a command, He said in John 13:27, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” By the way, it’s the only time in the Bible that God and Satan gave a man the same command.

Do you know what John says? John says, ‘when I look back on it, what I remember is how dark it was when he left, the last thing I ever remember of Judas is walking out in the darkness,’ John 13:30. Because it’s always dark when you sell out Jesus.

Now let me tell you the problem with reading about Judas. Over the centuries, he has been so despised that we can’t relate to him but the disciples could.

The question they asked when Jesus said, “One of you is going to betray me” is “Is it I? Could it be me?” I think that’s the question we’re supposed to ask because I think if we look deep into our hearts we will admit that there have been times in our lives when we have made some hard bargains for Jesus.

Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pitiful pieces of silver but do you know something I’ve sold Jesus out for less than that, haven’t you?

Jesus now institutes His memorial that had more significance than the normal Passover meal that the Jews ate at this time of the year, Exodus 12:11 / Mark 14:22-25 / Luke 22:19-20 / 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Because the bread at Passover was to be free of yeast, this is the bread which Jesus took, gave thanks, broke and gave to the disciples.

Jesus tells His disciples that the bread represents His body, John 10:7, that is, metaphorically speaking. Paul later tells us that Jesus also spoke about the bread as His spiritual body, the church, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.

The ‘breaking of bread’, is often used in the Scriptures to speak of the Lord’s Supper, Acts 2:42 / Acts 20:7 / 1 Corinthians 10:16-18.

Jesus then takes a cup, gave thanks to God for the contents of the cup, that is, the fruit of the vine, Mark 14:25, and then passed it to His disciples to drink, each one of them, Mark 14:23 / Acts 20:7.

This was to become a symbol of the blood of Christ, who offered up His own life for others, Leviticus 7:26-27 / Acts 15:20 / Colossians 1:20 / Hebrews 9:12 / Hebrews 9:14 / Hebrews 9:20 / 1 Peter 1:2 / 1 John 1:7. Jesus’ blood of the covenant was poured out for the forgiveness of sins, Acts 2:38.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Christ made the Lord’s Supper the solemn sign and seal of the covenant for the forgiveness of the sins of his disciples in all ages. Christians who forsake the Lord’s Supper are described in the New Testament as having ‘trodden underfoot the Son of God’ and as having ‘counted the blood of the covenant wherewith (they) were sanctified an unholy thing’ and as having ‘done despite’, insulted, unto the Spirit of grace, Hebrews 10:29.’

Why Was Wine Used?

Have you ever considered why wine is being used in the Passover? God never commanded the use of wine for the Passover, there’s no mention of it in Exodus 12. There are a few reasons for drinking four cups of wine according to the Jews.

When promising to deliver the Jews from Egyptian slavery, God used four terms to describe the redemption, Exodus 6:6-8.

1. ‘I shall take you out.’

2. ‘I shall rescue you.’

3. ‘I shall redeem you.’

4. ‘I shall bring you.’

They were freed from Pharaoh’s four evil decrees.

1. Slavery.

2. The ordered murder of all male progeny by the Hebrew midwives.

3. The drowning of all Hebrew boys in the Nile by Egyptian thugs.

4. The decree ordered the Israelites to collect their own straw for use in their brick production.

The Jews believe that the four cups symbolise their freedom from our four exiles.

1. The Egyptian.

2. Babylonian.

3. Greek exiles.

4. And their current exile which they hope to be rid of very soon with the coming of the Messiah.

The reason this is important is that in Luke’s account, we read that there were two cups used, one on either side of the bread, Luke 22:17 / Luke 22:20. In Jewish history, the cup of the Passover was likely four cups of wine, which is the number found in the Mishnah, interspersed throughout the meal.

Jesus says He won’t drink from this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when He drinks it new with them in His Father’s kingdom, Mark 14:25 / Luke 22:18.

This is either speaking of the time when Christ’s kingdom was established, Matthew 18:20 / Acts 2:42, and He will partake of the new supper with His people, or it could be speaking about the time we get to heaven.

Smith, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Now I look forward to that day when I drink of it in His Father’s kingdom with Him. I am going to have a glorious Lord’s supper someday. And we’re going to just be there with Jesus in the kingdom of God.’

Dummelow, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These mysterious and beautiful words are a well-known ‘crux’ of interpreters. It seems clear, however, that they are to be taken as referring to the whole rite of the Lord’s Supper, and not simply to the ‘fruit of the vine’, or cup. This is evident from Luke 22:16, ‘I will not any more eat thereof’, that is, of the Christian Passover or Supper, ‘until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Interpretations fall into two main classes, according to as ‘the kingdom of God’, that is, ‘My Father’s kingdom’, is understood to refer to the period after the Resurrection, or the period after the Judgment.’

‘According to the first interpretation, the sacred rite which Jesus now institutes, and which He will not again celebrate until He has triumphed over death and sat down a conqueror on the throne of His Father’s kingdom, will, after the Ascension, and especially after the descent of the Spirit, be to the disciples a new thing. No longer will the shadow of disappointment and seeming failure hang over their meetings. The sin of the world will have been atoned for, death will have been conquered, the Spirit will have been given, and Jesus will be present at the feast, not, as now, in the body of His humiliation, but the power of His risen and glorious life.’

‘According to the other interpretation, the Lord’s Supper is regarded as a type and prophecy of the eternal marriage supper of the Lamb, Revelation 19:9. These two views do not exclude one another. The title ’this fruit of the vine’ which Jesus applies to the sacred cup even after consecration, would seem to exclude the mediaeval doctrine of Transubstantiation.’

The Lord’s Supper

I would like for us to consider a few things concerning the Lord’s Supper.

Firstly, the prayer for the bread and the wine, too often I hear people asking God to bless the bread and the wine, but this isn’t what Jesus did, He simply thanked God for them, Matthew 26:26-27, He blessed God, not the bread and the wine because He knew that God was the One who supplied the bread and the wine and supplied everything for them to have it, i.e., the rain and sun which caused them to grow so that they could make bread and wine.

Secondly, we must remember that we don’t come to the Lord’s table looking for forgiveness, Matthew 26:28, I’ve lost count of the number of times I hear someone asking God to forgive us our sins as if we only have our sins forgiven once a week. Our sins have already been forgiven at our baptism Acts 2:38 and when we confess our sins to Him, 1 John 1:9.

Is it a time of celebration or mourning? Well, possibly both, it saddens us when we remember what we did to cause Jesus to have to go to the cross but it’s also a time of celebration because Jesus has conquered death and dealt with our sins and promises to come back again, whilst we remember what He did for us.

Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper in order for us to remember the great sacrifice He made for us and that we rely on Him and His sacrifice for our salvation.

He gave us this memorial, so we would not forget Him and what He did for us. In Luke 22:19, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ This is done to help us remember the Lord and what He did for us.

The death of our Lord wasn’t an accident. It was in God’s eternal plan of redemption for Christ to come to this earth and take our punishment for our sins by dying for us, so God can now be just in saving us. In several places in the Old Testament, God foretells the death of His Son for us, Isaiah 53:5-6.

God and Christ are loving and wonderful for what they have done for us. We read of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

This is how we remember the great suffering that our Lord did for us. We proclaim our faith in this great and wonderful deed to the world each time we partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Some partake of only the bread and their priest partakes of the fruit of the vine, this is a perversion of the Lord’s Supper. This isn’t doing it the way the Bible instructs.

But notice each Christian is to partake of both the bread and the fruit of the vine. When we partake of the unleavened bread we picture our Lord’s body hanging there, suffering in anguish and pain, taking the punishment that was rightly due us.

As we drink of the fruit of the vine we envision His precious blood which was poured out for us to cleanse us from all our sins. What great love and concern God and Christ have for us!

The Lord wants us to remember what He did for us every first day of the week as the church did in the first century.

We are to remember that our Lord gave up heaven to come to this earth for thirty-three years, and then died for us.

We remember the humiliation of the mock trial, the crown of thorns and the terrible scourging that left His back raw and bleeding.

We remember the soldiers gambling for the Lord’s only earthly possession, the clothes on His back.

Then we remember the nails as they were driven into His hands and feet, and the cross as it was raised and dropped into the hole.

We also remember the spirit of forgiveness of our Lord, as He was being crucified, Luke 23:34.

We remember our Lord’s loud cry of victory, Matthew 27:46.

We remember as our Lord hung on the cross, how the people mocked, shamed, and made fun of Him as He was dying not only for their sins but the sins of all mankind, 1 Peter 2:24.

We remember the sun refused to shine, and the earth shook because of the death of the Son of God, Matthew 27:45 / Matthew 27:51.

We must first examine ourselves to determine whether we have the right attitude to partake in this memorial. We must put all else from our minds. We should make sure we have our minds centred on what Christ did for us.

We must clear our minds of all other thoughts and centre our minds on the sacrifice of our Lord, 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, or otherwise as 1 Corinthians 11:29 (KJV) says, ‘We eat and drink damnation to ourselves.’

There are four things we need to look at before and whilst we participate in the Supper.

1. We need to look back to the cross, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

2. We need to look forward to His return, 1 Corinthians 11:26.

3. We need to look within ourselves, 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.

Many Christians today refuse to partake of the Supper because they feel they are ‘unworthy’. The truth is all of us are ‘unworthy’ but this isn’t Paul’s point. Paul is speaking about the Christian’s attitude towards the Supper, do they partake without really thinking about what the bread and wine symbolise?

Do they partake without thinking about what Christ did for them on the cross? If not, they are spiritually crucifying Jesus all over again, hence the need to self-examine first to avoid judgment.

Many Christians today refuse to partake of the Supper because they have a problem with a brother or sister in Christ and, so they believe they would be partaking in the Supper in an ‘unworthy manner’.

I find this tragic that Christians refuse to partake of the Supper because they have a problem with someone else. The truth is, Christians shouldn’t be participating in ‘worship’ as a whole, not just the Supper if they have a problem with their brothers or sisters, Matthew 5:23-24.

I’ve often heard Christians say that we should refuse non-Christians the Lord’s Supper because they will bring ‘judgment on themselves’.

First of all, Paul is writing to Christians and its Christians who should be ‘examining themselves’, Paul doesn’t deal with non-Christians participating in the Supper.

Secondly, if non-Christians partake of the Supper, how much more ‘judgement’ can a non-Christian come under?

I find it fascinating that some Christians will refuse any non-Christian visitor the Supper but will happily take their money for the offering! I believe the Supper is for Christians but if a non-Christian begins to come regularly to our assemblies, then someone should go and explain to them what the Supper is all about and who it is for.

4. We need to look at each other, 1 Corinthians 11:33.

Many people don’t want to remember the Lord’s death for us very often since they only partake of the Lord’s Supper monthly, quarterly, annually, or not at all.

The excuse is given that they do not want to partake of it more often because it will become too commonplace and lose its meaning. But the very opposite is true.

The Lord’s Supper loses its meaning when we choose not to partake and think about it. This would be like saying that we should only pray two or three times a year, for if we prayed more often, then prayer would lose its meaning.

This would be absurd. Does the Lord’s death really mean anything to us? But Jesus requested in Luke 22:19, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ Do we really care to regularly remember the death of our Lord?

People seem to be turned off by the death of Jesus and the shedding of His blood. They don’t care to remember it. But it is His blood that cleanses us from our sins, Revelation 1:5.

They would rather remember Him as a babe in a manger than a crucified Saviour. It is an insult to Jesus to celebrate His manger and then ignore His cross. Many people seem to be ashamed of the death of Jesus, Mark 8:38.

This memorial of our Lord is called ‘the Lord’s Supper’ in 1 Corinthians 11:20 and ‘the Lord’s table’ in 1 Corinthians 10:21. In 1 Corinthians 10:16, it is referred to as ‘the breaking of bread’ and ‘communion’. But the church in the first century met every first day of the week to observe the Lord’s Supper, Acts 20:7.

Why did they come together on the first day of the week? Here we see the church in the first century came together on the first day of every week to break bread, which is the Lord’s Supper.

Their primary reason for coming together on the first day of the week was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We cannot be pleasing to the Lord if we observe the Lord’s Supper only a few times a year or not at all.

Are we really interested in proclaiming the Lord’s death to the world until He comes? 1 Corinthians 11:26. People today don’t seem to have a problem with the example to give on the first day of each week, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.

One of the things they were to do when they came together was to give. What else was the church at Corinth to do every first day of the week when they came together? They were condemned for making a gluttonous feast out of the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:20.

When did they come together in one place? Every first day of the week. What were they doing when they came together every first day of the week? Perverting the Lord’s Supper by making it into a glutinous and drunken feast.

What were they supposed to be doing every first day of the week? Partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Two of the things the church at Corinth did every first day of the week were to give and partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Why shouldn’t we be like those in the first century who assembled on the first day of every week to remember the Lord’s death by partaking in the Lord’s Supper?

But many people seem to have a problem in seeing the importance of partaking in the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week as the church in the first century did when it was under inspired apostolic guidance.

When the Jews, who lived under the Old Testament, were commanded to remember the Sabbath Day, that is the seventh day of the week, to keep it holy, they kept all 52 Sabbath Days of the year holy. The first day of the week also occurs 52 times each year.

When Christians today observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, they are following the Biblical example of Acts 20 of the disciples who came together on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper, Acts 20:7.

We also read in Acts 2:42 concerning the church at Jerusalem, ‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers.’ Again, we see the first-century church was steadfast or regular in the breaking of bread which is their observance of the Lord’s Supper.

But later men in denominational groups chose to partake of the Lord’s Supper less frequently. Should we be any less regular than the church in the first century? According to what we have seen in the scriptures, we are to both give and partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week.

Could the Bible be any clearer concerning the Lord’s Supper? Another perversion of the Lord’s Supper occurred when men introduced the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation in the Decrees of the Council of Trent, which met from 1545 to 1563 A.D.

This decree devised by men stated that the bread and the fruit of the vine are converted miraculously into the literal body and blood of Jesus when we partake of it. Sadly, men would dare to pervert the Lord’s Supper into such a mockery.

It’s ridiculous to place literal interpretations on symbolic language. In John 15:5 Jesus says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ Here Jesus is using figurative language because we know He isn’t a literal vine and we aren’t literal branches. In John 10:9 Jesus said, ‘I am the door.’ But again, He uses symbolic language.

Concerning the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said in 1 Corinthians 11:25, ‘this do in remembrance of Me.’ The Lord’s Supper is designed to help us remember what the Lord did for us.

And as we partake of it as 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, ‘You proclaim the Lord’s death till He Comes’. We are showing the world that we believe that Jesus died for our sins.

One Cup Or Many!

It’s hard to believe that churches years ago split over the issue of ‘one cup or many’, even today there are some divisions within the Lord’s body over how many cups should be used for the Lord’s Supper.

I find it heart-breaking when divisions arise within the Lord’s church but I find it even more heartbreaking when some go as far as to make it a salvation issue.

Let’s go ahead and see some of the arguments that are used to ‘prove’ that we should only use ‘one cup’.

The Bible refences cited next are the passages, some Christians use to argue for the use of ‘one cup’ only, Matthew 26:27 /  Mark 14:23 / Luke 22:20 / 1 Corinthians 10:16 / 1 Corinthians 10:21 / 1 Corinthians 11:25 / 1 Corinthians 11:26 / 1 Corinthians 11:27 / 1 Corinthians 11:28.

When we’re dealing with any Biblical text we must think carefully about what is being said, keep it in context and be consistent with the outcome.

When it comes to the Lord’s Supper we know that the ‘bread’ represents the ‘body’ of Christ, Matthew 26:26. When it comes to the Lord’s Supper we know that the ‘wine’ represents the ‘blood’ of Christ, Matthew 26:27-28.

And so, if the ‘bread’ represents His ‘body’ and the ‘wine’ represents His ‘blood,’ what does ‘the cup’ represent? Most Christians who argue against more than ‘one cup’ maintain they are following the example of Jesus, but we need to ask ourselves the question, is every part of an example binding?

Look at Acts 20:7-8, the text says they met in the ‘upstairs room’, are we going to say that the church today must meet in an ‘upstairs room’?  Look at Matthew 3:13, the text says that ‘Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan’, are we going to say that we must follow Jesus’ example and be baptised in the River Jordan?

If Jesus was baptised in a river, does this mean that anyone who’s been baptised in a baptistry or a lake hasn’t received a Biblical baptism? ‘Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River.’

When we think about the ‘bread’ which was used in the first century, it looks nothing like the unleavened crackers we use today, does this mean we must use a ‘loaf’ for the Lord’s Supper?

Those who insist on one cup only argue that they’re following Jesus’ example and they say if churches use more than one cup, they have gone beyond what is written, 1 Corinthians 4:6 and therefore it is sinful.

The bulk of the argument is based on the that there is no Biblical evidence that authorises the use of more than ‘one cup’. They do agree though that the Bible authorises by command, example, direct statement and expediency which basically means something useful.

Expediency involves the right of choice, within the realm of that which is authorised in the New Testament and is not itself a source of authority. A basic example is that we are commanded to teach, and the use of overhead projectors would be useful for doing so.

Those who argue for the use of ‘one cup’ only always ask the question, where is the command, example or direct statement that authorises the use of individual cups for the Lord’s Supper?

It seems to me they have forgotten about the expediency part. And like most people who make everything a salvation issue, they fail to be consistent with their arguments.

The same people who argue for the use of ‘one cup’ only, have no problems authorising things like a church building, songbooks, seats etc. because they say those things are expediency. Surely if those things are expediency, then so is the use of ‘multiple cups’ for the Lord’s Supper!

With all the arguments about ‘the cup’, what about the bread? The consistent argument would be to ask, where is the Scripture that authorises the use of two or more plates for the bread to be served on? There is none! Yet these same Christians use more than one plate for the bread to be served on.

I also find it interesting that these same Christians, understand that the expression ‘one bread’ just means that all are to partake of the bread and they understand that the number of plates for the bread doesn’t change anything, in other words, they are all taking the bread.

You see, there is just as much Bible authority for more than ‘one cup’ as there is for more than ‘one plate’ for the bread. The point is that the ‘container’ isn’t important but what is important is ‘the fruit of the vine’ and ‘the bread’.

A cup is an expedient or aid to taking the fruit of the vine just as a plate is an aid to taking the bread. The number of cups or plates isn’t specified.

Think about this, when the Samaritan women spoke to Jesus and said in John 4:12 ‘Surely you’re not greater than our ancestor Jacob, are you? For he gave us this well and drank from it himself, along with his sons and his livestock.’

Does this mean that each of them put their lips on the well and drank? Surely it means all of them drank from it but not all from the same container.

Jesus says in Matthew 26:27 ‘And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, drink ye all of it’. When Jesus took the cup and said ‘drink ye all of it’, did He mean for them to drink the cup or its contents? This was a figure of speech known as a metonymy.

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept.

We all agree that one plate or many plates don’t violate the command to eat the bread, why? Because the plate isn’t significant, it’s the bread which represents the body of Christ which is significant.

It’s heart-breaking to hear how some Christians take things to the extreme and turn things into a salvation issue whilst being inconsistent with their arguments.

The number of cups used in partaking of the Lord’s Supper should no more divide the church than whether we meet in an upper room or ground floor, whether we baptise people in the Jordan River or a bath in someone’s house, Ephesians 4:3.

‘When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’ Matthew 26:30

After instating His memorial, Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn and went to the Mount of Olives. The word ‘sung a hymn’, is actually ‘hymning’ in Greek and is a reference to the Hallel Psalms which they would have sung.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The Passover was observed by the Jews by singing or ‘chanting’, Psalm 113-118. These they divided into two parts. They sang Psalm 113-114 during the observance of the Passover, and the others at the close. There can be no doubt that our Saviour, and the apostles also, used the same psalms in their observance of the Passover. The word rendered ‘sung a hymn’ is a participle, literally meaning ‘hymning’, not confined to a single hymn, but admitting many.’

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

‘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.” “Truly I tell you,” 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.’ Matthew 26:31-35

The Lord was about to foretell the denial of Peter and the flight of the twelve, but He began by appealing to the prophecy here quoted from Zechariah 13:7.

God had revealed Himself in the Old Testament under the extensive use of the metaphor of ‘the shepherd of Israel’, Psalm 23 / Ezekiel 16, but here it was stated that the Shepherd would strike the Shepherd, thus God laid upon himself, in the person of the Son, the iniquity of us all. Inherent in this was the failure of all human support.

Christ here went far beyond the detailed prophecies of His passion and calmly set up an appointment to meet the twelve in Galilee after the Great Sacrifice had been offered. Christ promised to meet them after His resurrection and He did it.

Jesus told the disciples that they would all fall away. Peter retorted that though the others might, he would never abandon Him. Christ replied that he would deny Him three times that very night.

Again, Peter denied it saying that he would even be willing to die with Him. Perhaps Peter’s overconfidence was one reason he fulfilled this very prophecy a few hours later.

Peter wasn’t alone in rejecting the idea of their failure, for both Mark and Matthew relate how ‘all the disciples’ made the same affirmation of loyalty.

What none of them realised was that the source of true spiritual strength hadn’t yet been provided through the death of Christ and that it was, therefore, impossible for them to have stood without that strength.

Peter denied Christ three times, later confessing his love three times, as recorded in John. ‘Before the cock crow twice’ is a variation from Matthew’s ‘cock crow’.

Matthew referred to the event of the cock-crow, a phenomenon taking place every morning, and Mark had reference to the beginning of a cockcrow, which always starts with one or two roosters leading all the rest.

It was at this time that the events and statements of Jesus in John 13-17 took place. Jesus had a private meeting with the apostles as recorded in John 13-17.

There were actually two meetings going on at the same time, this one where Jesus said He was about to be crucified during Passover and the other meeting when the chief priests were saying He can’t be killed during Passover, Mark 14:1-2, but as usual Jesus’ plans are always first, He will die when He chooses to die.

In the John 13-17 meeting, Jesus made specific promises to the apostles that applied only to them. In John 17 He made a specific prayer for the apostles and for those who would not believe in Him through their preaching.

Gethsemane

‘Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Matthew 26:36-38

John tells us that when Jesus had finished praying, He and His disciples went and crossed the Kidron Valley and went to a garden on the other side, John 18:1.

The Kidron valley east of Jerusalem, separating the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount, was the route taken by David when he fled from the city because of Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:23 and it has a significant place in the history of the nation, in 1 Kings 15:13, it’s where Asa burned the ‘abominable image’, in 2 Kings 23:4ff it’s where Josiah burned the idolatrous vessels out of the temple, in 2 Chronicles 29:16ff it’s where it involved in the cleansing of the temple by Hezekiah.

From the altar of sacrifice in the temple, there was a channel down to the brook Kidron, and through that channel, the blood of the lambs drained away. When Jesus crossed the brook Kidron it would still be red with the blood of the lambs which had been sacrificed.

The ‘valley’, ‘cheimorrhos’, literally means, ‘winter-flowing’, a stream which flowed only in winter or after heavy rain. A ‘garden’, ‘Gethsemane’ means ‘oil press’, Luke 22:39.

It was a private garden, Mark 14:32. ‘Place’, ‘chorion’, an enclosed piece of ground, so the owner must have given permission for Jesus and the disciples to use it.

The owner was probably a friend of Jesus as Jesus often went there. Notice Luke 21:37, this probably means that Jesus and His disciples used to shelter there, sleeping in the open air, and probably in this very garden.

The Garden

Located on the slopes of Mount of Olives, precise location unknown, the present ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ is very old, and the original garden must have been close by, but nobody can say with certainty exactly where. It seems as if the disciples and Jesus had stopped for Jesus’ prayer somewhere in Jerusalem.

Now that the prayer was completed, they continue to the edge of the city, out one of the gates on the Western side of the city and towards the Kidron valley which runs to the West of the city along the length of the temple.

They crossed the valley and entered the garden of Gethsemane which was on the Mount of Olives, this Mount was so-called because of the olives grown on it.

Some of these olive trees still exist today, and they are believed to be the same as those mentioned in Jesus’ time. It seems that Jesus slept here on the Mount of Olives each night of the last week of His life.

Apart from His upcoming crucifixion, this must have been one of the most agonising events in Jesus’ life, and as we go through the account, we can only imagine the emotional and spiritual pain Jesus is going through.

He doesn’t even get any support from those closest to Him as they are busy sleeping. Even though He knows His Father is with Him, this must have been one of the loneliest times in Jesus’ life.

The name Gethsemane means ‘oil press’, which suggests that the garden was a grove of olive trees in which was located an oil press. The Garden of Olives as it is also called is located to the east of the Kidron Valley, between the path up the mountain and the busy Jericho Road.

This wasn’t the first time Jesus came here to pray, Luke 22:39 / John 18:2 and so, it’s easy to understand why Judas knew exactly where Jesus would be when it comes to Him being arrested.

Mark tells us, Mark 14:32-33, that whilst they were in the garden, Jesus left the other eight disciples at a distance but took Peter, James and John, His inner circle of friends with him to a quiet isolated place in order for Him to pray, Mathew 4:21 / Matthew 17:1.

Matthew tells us a little more detail about Jesus’ emotional state, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ Matthew 26:38.

It’s clear that even though the disciples seem to be oblivious to what Jesus was going through and about to go through, Jesus Himself knew exactly what was coming up. He knew that the cross was awaiting Him, and He knew He was about to carry the sin of the world on His shoulders, John 12:27 / Hebrews 5:7.

It was time to express exactly what was going through His mind, it was time and go and pour His heart out to His Father, and so He asked Peter, James and John to stand guard and keep watch because He knew that the mob was coming with Judas, His betrayer, to arrest Him.

‘Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Matthew 26:39

Jesus’ outpouring of His heart towards His Father shows the real compassion He had for His Father, Matthew 6:9.

This highlights the closeness of their relationship, a Father and Son relationship. Remember earlier Jesus taught the disciples to pray, ‘our Father’, Matthew 6:9, but notice here that Jesus addressed the Father as ‘My’ Father, if this doesn’t show us that God the Father was the unique Father of the Son, and the Son was the unique Son of God the Father, I don’t know what will, John 3:16.

We know that all things are possible for God, but if mankind was to be saved, then this couldn’t possibly be removed. Jesus knew exactly what was coming up, ‘the cup’ symbolized suffering and He knew the eternal destiny of mankind was upon His shoulders, Matthew 20:22.

We know that He gladly went to the cross but not without expressing very real human emotions about it, He was fully Deity, but He was also fully human.

His choice which on the surface seems simple enough, His Father’s will or His own, Luke 22:42 / John 6:38 but His human side was full of sorrow, as God in the flesh He knew what the plan was but as a human, the thought of it was overwhelming, Hebrews 5:7, He knew He had to be obedient even unto death, Philippians 2:8 / Hebrews 5:8.

‘Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Matthew 26:40-41

Notice why the disciples fell asleep, they were ‘exhausted from sorrow,’ Luke 22:45-46. Scientists have actually proven that sleeping really helps relieve stress and anxiety.

Jesus asks them to watch and pray but notice He didn’t ask them to pray for Him, they had to pray for themselves as they were about to go through their own spiritual ordeal.

The betrayer is coming with the mob and they need to be alert, this isn’t the time for sleeping but a time for spiritual warfare preparation.

As Christians we must always be on our guard, we must always watch and pray for our enemy the devil who’s seeking to destroy us, 1 Peter 5:9.

We often get the impression that Jesus’ left the disciples, prayed and a few moments later comes back to the disciples, but notice that Jesus actually prayed for ‘one hour’, Matthew 26:40, which implies, that the words we have recorded for His prayers were all that He actually said, He obviously must have waited on some kind of reply from the Father and was in agony for that period of time.

Falling into temptation is a real danger for all Christians because the flesh is weak. This is the reality of sin, we may not want to sin or purposely get involved in sin, but we should never underestimate the power of those temptations which can lead us into sin, Galatians 5:17 / James 1:13-14.

‘He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’ When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So, he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.’ Matthew 26:42-44

While they were sleeping Jesus was receiving another kind of strength, He received strength from an angel, Matthew 4:11 / Luke 22:43-44 / Hebrews 1:14.

The first prayer of Jesus was asking God if it was possible to remove the cup of suffering which was coming His way but here, He acknowledges that it’s not possible, in other words, there is no other way to save mankind, so His Father’s will, will be done, Mark 10:38-39 / Isaiah 50:5.

Why Did He Repeat His Prayer In Gethsemane?

Plummer, in his commentary, says the following.

‘We may reverently suppose that He Himself knew that the first utterance of the prayer hadn’t been complete in its success. His human will wasn’t yet in absolute unison with the will of his Father and, in this way, we may trace progress between the first prayer and the second.’

In both cases, the prayer is made conditional, but in the first the condition is positive, in the second it is negative. ‘If it is possible’ has become ‘If it is not possible’, and there’s no longer any petition that the cup be removed. We may believe that in the third prayer, even if the same words were used, the ‘if’ has become equivalent to ‘since’, ‘since this cup cannot pass from me, thy will be done.’

Because the disciples ‘eyes are heavy’ tells us they were under a lot of stress too, probably because of everything which has happened up to this point, especially during the Last Supper.

They too were emotional, physically and spiritually exhausted.

Theory

Now there is a theory about what’s going on here in reference to ‘drops of blood.’ Although this medical condition is relatively rare, according to Dr Frederick Zugibe, it’s well known, and there have been many cases of it, the clinical term is ‘hematohidrosis.’

Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form and under the pressure of great stress, the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety passes ‘the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture.

The blood goes into the sweat glands.’ As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat, it pushes the blood to the surface, coming out as droplets of blood.

Now I said that this was a theory and I’m not denying this condition exists, however, I don’t believe this is what’s happening here with Jesus.

Notice Luke the physician’s words, he says, ‘his sweat was like drops of blood,’ Luke 22:44, he uses the word, ‘like’ which tells us that it wasn’t actually drops of blood but ‘like’ drops of blood.

In other words, His sweat wasn’t literal blood, but the sweat fell from His face as if it were blood. When writers of the Bible are trying their best to describe something which they find difficult to explain, they often use words like, ‘seems like’, ‘looks like’, ‘sounds like’, Acts 2:1-3.

If this text shows us anything, it shows us the intensity of His anguish, He knew exactly what was coming up and as a result, he’s sweating so hard, Luke writes that it looked like blood falling to the ground. No wonder an angel came to strengthen Him.

What Exactly Was Jesus Struggling With?

Have you ever wondered what Christ’s struggle was all about? What were the source of Jesus’ great stress and anguish? Clearly, He was in intense spiritual agony, but the reason for that anguish is because He has to make a decision.

The same decision that Adam had to make and the same decision that you and I have to make. Will I do what I want? Or will I do what God wants?

God asked such a small thing of Adam, He put him in a beautiful paradise, and told him to have anything he wanted, but just don’t touch that one tree, Genesis 2:17, that’s all He asked of Adam.

But what did He ask of Jesus? He asked Him to go and hang on a tree. That’s what Jesus was wrestling with and when He left Gethsemane, we know what His decision was because He didn’t back down.

Do you know why? Jesus died before He was killed. He died to self, He died to personal ambition, He died to personal desire. He died before He was killed, Jesus didn’t moan, He didn’t walk to the cross like a victim. He marched to the cross as a man who had fully embraced the will of His Father, John 10:17-18.

Jesus had to make that decision, but He didn’t have to choose to carry it out. Throughout His ministry, He could have stepped back into heaven at any time.

Even the devil knew that, as you know from Matthew 4 after Satan had failed to tempt Jesus, God sent angels to care for Jesus, Matthew 4:11.

I believe Jesus could have returned to His Father right there and then. And again, in Matthew 17 when Jesus spoke with Elijah and Moses, He could have returned with them.

He could have avoided the cross, but not if He wanted to accomplish the longing of His Father’s heart. His Father loved the lost children of the world and their only hope, was a perfect substitute, to take the penalty that they deserve. Jesus loved His Father and He knew what His Father wanted.

‘Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’ Matthew 26:45-46

While the disciples are still sleeping, the time has now come for Jesus to eventually go to the cross, it was the time of the betrayal, the trial and the crucifixion of the Son of God, John 2:4 / John 12:33. It was time for Jesus, the head crusher to fulfil the promise of Genesis 3:15.

As predicted by Jesus, the Son of Man, Matthew 26:1-5, Judas arrives with the mob to arrest Him, Matthew 26:21 / Matthew 20:18.

Notice that Jesus has no intention of trying to run away and hide, He’s headed straight towards the mob like a man who’s fully embraced the will of His Father. Jesus chose the will of His Father whilst Judas chose the will of his own pocket, John 12:6, Matthew 26:15.

We only get a tiny glimpse, and we can only but imagine the agony which Christ went through here in Gethsemane, but we must never forget that He went through it all and chose His Father’s will in order for sinners to be saved, even today. When He was faced with a difficult decision, and His closest friends let Him down, He poured His heart out to His Father.

As Christians today, we too will have many times in our lives when we’re faced with our Gethsemane moments, there will be times when we feel let down by our family, friends, and even brothers and sisters in Christ, but it’s then, we need to fall on our knees and pray from the depths of our soul for guidance from our Father. The question is, will we accept His will for our lives or will we resist and chose our own?

Jesus Arrested

‘While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.’ Matthew 26:47-56

We see that Gethsemane was a common place for Jesus and the disciples to go for prayer and meditation, as a result, Judas the traitor knew where to find Jesus, it was common for them to go there after the evening meal. Judas brought an entire detachment of soldiers with him to capture Jesus, John 18:2-3.

Judas brought with him, ‘a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees’. The word ‘detachment’ of soldiers is ‘speira’, and was the term used for a Roman Cohort, a body of 600 men.

Sometimes used to describe a group of 200 soldiers, it’s impossible to say how many on this occasion, but it’s certainly used for a large number, Matthew 26:47 / Mark 14:43 / Luke 27:47.

‘Their officers’, ‘chiliarchos’, the Roman commander of a cohort, and the temple guard were carrying ‘lanterns and torches’, perhaps expecting that Jesus and disciples would hide, Luke 22:52, the chief priests and elders were also present.

The torches were sticks tied together, wrapped in cloth, dipped in pitch or oil, the lantern was an open dish or oil lamp. This seems likely because of their reaction when Jesus uses the term ‘I AM’, John 18:5.

The chief priests had no jurisdiction over Roman soldiers and would need Pilate’s permission to use them. He later doesn’t seem keen on the whole event, so it isn’t likely that he would give his permission to use his men to capture Jesus.

Why Did They Need Judas?

The religious leaders didn’t need Judas to recognise Jesus. They didn’t need Judas to find out where Jesus was. Three times in the Gospel of John they sent guards to arrest Jesus and all three times the guards couldn’t do it. I think they were beginning to fear that Jesus was un-arrestable.

And they said, ‘we need someone on the inside, some that can catch Him when his guard is down, someone that won’t surprise Him so that we can get Him before He knows what’s going on.’ And Judas said, ‘I’m your man.’

The Kiss

Under normal circumstances, the kiss was a brotherly kiss of affection, but it seems like Judas had other plans, his kiss was more like a kiss of betrayal, his kiss signalled to the mob who Jesus was, remember the religious leaders who were in attendance knew exactly who Jesus was, as they had many dealings with Him up to this point, Luke 22:47-48.

This shows us the extent Satan had been working on His heart, he even had the audacity to greet Jesus first. When Jesus asked him the question about betraying the Son of man with a kiss, this tells us that Jesus knew Judas’s motives. I’m sure Judas once again would have been taken back by Jesus’ question.

Remember these are the final days of Jesus and He was well aware of everything which was about to happen, Revelation 13:8, and Judas coming to Him was no surprise either, Psalm 41:9 / Matthew 20:18 / Luke 9:44 / Acts 1:16-17.

It’s confirmed that Jesus was well aware of His eventual destination, He knew that His time had now come but still He asked, ‘Who is it you want?’ John 18:4-8.

They specify Jesus, and so allowing the others to go unharmed when they ask for Jesus, He replies ‘I am he’, this is the old statement used as a reference to God. Jesus knew everything that was about to happen, John 2:24 / John 5:6 / John 6:64 / John 13:1 / John 13:3.

Notice that when they were confronted by Jesus, ‘they drew back and fell to the ground’, why? Notice it was when Jesus said, ‘I am he’ that they ‘drew back and fell to the ground.’ The word ‘he’ is merely supplied in the text, Jesus said ‘Ego Eimi’, ‘I AM’ John 8:58 / Exodus 3:14.

The expression ‘Ego Eimi’ also occurs in John 6:20 / John 8:24 / John 8:28 / John 13:13. The arresting officers fall back at this bold answer and needed to be asked again who they sought before they managed to get a hold of themselves again.

Just as a side note I remember studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and brought this text to their attention, at first they said, ‘oh you guys are always making a big deal out of the ‘I AM’ statements’ and then they went on to explain that everyone present ‘drew back and fell to the ground’, simply because Jesus openly admitted that He was Jesus and everyone was surprised when He did!

Really!

Imagine 200-600 Roman soldiers and all the religious leaders, armed with torches, lanterns, clubs and swords and who knows what else, coming to Jesus and Jesus asks, ‘who are you looking for?’ and they reply, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’.

Imagine, Jesus replies, ‘Yep, I’m your man’, and because He said, He is the one they are looking for, 200-600 soldiers and everyone else in their company, not only ‘drew back’ but they also ‘fell to the ground.’

That simply doesn’t make any sense unless there was something about the words Jesus used. The ‘I AM’ statements are a big deal, but they fail to see the significance of them because if they did, they wouldn’t come out with such dribble to explain passages like this.

After declaring to the mob that He is the ‘I AM’, Jesus pleads for His disciples to be released, this was to fulfil a prophecy He previously made which prevented any from being captured with Him, John 6:39 / John 18:8.

The Ear

Peter’s reaction isn’t surprising, He was always the impulsive one, who often said things without thinking first, John 13:37 / Matthew 26:33. Here he draws his sword and cuts off the ear of Malchus who was the high priest’s servant, John 18:10-11.

The fact that Peter is carrying a sword, possibly for protection, tells me that maybe He still didn’t understand the nature of God’s kingdom, he was still thinking in terms of a physical kingdom.

We know that Jesus never wanted or never intended physical force to establish His kingdom, John 18:36 / Revelation 13:10. He reminds Peter if he’s going to fight with a sword, then he will certainly die by the sword, Matthew 26:52 / Romans 13:4.

Before Jesus restores Malchus’ ear Jesus rebukes Peter, Luke 22:51, this isn’t the first time he has rebuked him, Mark 8:33, and it certainly won’t be the last time he’s rebuked, Galatians 2:11-21.

We must wonder what those who were present were thinking when Jesus restored Malchus’ ear back to normal. Surely after Jesus claimed to be the ‘I AM’, and then performed this ‘sign’, John 20:30-31, those present would have noticed what He just did!

I often wonder if Malchus himself ever went on to believe that Jesus was indeed, the Christ, the Son of God? If no one else believed within the mob, who Christ was on that day, I’m sure Malchus would have believed and who knows maybe later He came to become a Christian. At the very least, it was certainly one of those moments, in his life, that he would never forget.

Peter, still thinking in human terms, thought Jesus needed help but little did he know how much help Jesus had at His call, Matthew 26:53-54.

If it wasn’t for the love of Christ for mankind, He could have easily brought all this to an end, but He wasn’t about to play into the devil’s hands, He wasn’t about to blow His whole mission this close to the end, John 10:17-18.

Twelve Legions Of Angels

Twelve legions of angels are estimated to be around 36,000 angels, but notice Jesus says He has ‘more than’ that number at His disposal. Remember one angel wiped out 185,000 of God’s enemies in one moment, 2 Kings 19:35, how much more would these many angels, affect those who were present?

Jesus could have called numerous angels to rescue Him, but He knew by doing that, wouldn’t fulfil Scripture, Isaiah 50:6 / Isaiah 53:2-11. Jesus is saying that He must die but He is also saying all these things must happen to fulfil prophecy, Matthew 18:7 / John 10:35 / 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

Because Luke mentions that the mob had swords and clubs, Luke 22:52-53, tells us that both Roman soldiers and the temple police were present to arrest Jesus.

Luke is the only account which tells us the chief priests were present too, Luke 22:52. You have to wonder, how many people does it take to arrest one man?

Christ knew the Scriptures, He knew moment by moment they were to be fulfilled. Why the disciples deserted Jesus and fled is uncertain, probably because they were afraid, John 20:19, and didn’t want to be arrested along with Jesus.

We know that Peter and John stayed kind of close to Jesus during His trial, John 18:15, but we don’t know why the others fled. One thing to notice is that Matthew includes himself as one of those deserting and fleeing from the scene.

The Time Has Come

Jesus tells them they’ve had ample opportunity over the past three and half years to arrest Him, but they didn’t. Now was the time because it was God’s timetable they were working under, not theirs.

It was now time to carry out the death sentence on Jesus, Luke 22:53. Satan has been working through these people because He wanted Jesus out of the picture, little did he know that the cross was a part of God’s plan from the beginning, Genesis 3:15 / Romans 8:28.

He had no idea what God’s plan was, he had no idea that he was actually putting God’s plan into effect, 1 Peter 1:10-12 / Acts 2:23.

‘Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.’ Matthew 26:57

What Date Was Jesus Arrested?

We should note that if Jesus was arrested on the night of Passover, as some suggest then none of the chief priests or the temple guards, would have been permitted to carry weapons after sundown of Nisan 14th.

And so, this must-have happened the night before, on Nisan 13th, technically the 14th, that Jesus was arrested. If it had been Nisan 14th after sundown, it would have been technically Nisan 15th, the night of the Passover meal, Luke 22:2.

Jesus didn’t try and run away, He surrenders Himself to the authorities and no attempt is made to capture the disciples, John 18:12.

The commander was usually in charge of a thousand men, but on this occasion, he doesn’t have a thousand men with him, but John simply tells us about him to help us understand that he was a man of high ranking.

John also tells us that the Jewish officials were involved in the arrest of Jesus, once again Jesus’ earlier words are about to come to pass, Matthew 20:19.

As Jesus made no attempt in any shape or form to run away, He told His disciples not to fight, He healed Malchus’ ear and voluntarily handed Himself over to them. I don’t believe there was any need to bind Him, but such is the nature of Satan and the people he was using to rid the world of Jesus.

There was no escaping for Jesus, but Jesus had no intention of even trying to escape, He only had one thing on His mind, to lovingly fulfil the will of His Father, Luke 22:42.

Jesus was in full control of everything which was happening around Him and He has always been in control of everything going on around Him and will continue to be in control of everything, even to His resurrection and beyond.

As Christians, it’s so important to remember, that as long as we remain under His control, He will protect us, John 10:28-29 from harm. We must also remember that it’s so easy to abandon Him, especially when people criticise us for being Christians and abuse us for the faith we hold onto so dearly, 1 Timothy 6:12.

Jesus Before The Sanhedrin

‘But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” Matthew 26:58-68

Though it was very late at night, Jesus was brought before the Jewish supreme court and tried. They bribed false witnesses who told contradictory stories about Him. For a time, it appeared that the court would be unable to find consistent testimony by which to convict Jesus.

Their testimony was untruthful. Jesus actually said, ‘You’ destroy this temple, referring to His body, and in three days I will raise it up, that is, rise from the dead, John 2:19.

In context, Jesus’ words were a prediction that the religious leaders would take His life and that He would rise from the dead three days later. There was no suggestion whatever of such a thing as the false witnesses alleged.

Even such a misrepresentative and malicious garbling of Jesus’ words, however, was useless to the chief priests, because there was no coherent account of such an alleged statement. One said one thing; another declared something else.

All night long, the preliminary investigation had gone forward, and nothing had come of it. In desperation, Caiaphas, who was beginning to find the judge’s bench a very uncomfortable place, forsook the judicial status, usurped the role of a prosecutor, placed Jesus under oath, and demanded an answer; but he would ask a question first.

Finally, the high priest asked Him if He were the Christ. When Jesus said, ‘I AM,’ in Mark 14:62, they used this statement as evidence of blasphemy and convicted Him.

Christ’s, ‘I AM’ claim here speaks of His Deity. Sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven refers to the final judgment when all men shall stand before the throne of God for sentencing.

It was astounding that Christ would here transfer the thought from that prejudiced and corrupted court to the Great Judgement Day where all shall receive justice and they that are Christ’s shall receive mercy. Then they spat on Him, mocked Him and beat Him.

Of all the activities that transpired during these last few hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Mark records the least of all the inspired writers. He records the trial before the high priest and council, Mark 14:64-65.

He records the confirmation of the elders, scribes and the Sanhedrin early in the morning after the arrest, Mark 15:1. And finally, he records the time when Jesus is handed over to Pilate for sanction by this Roman official to have Him crucified, Mark 15:1ff.

This was the second of Jesus’ six trials, the first having been the arraignment before Annas, perhaps in the same palace where apartments for both Annas and Caiaphas were located around the courtyard.

The meeting of the Sanhedrin was probably not at full strength, its more noble members, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, having already withdrawn. It may well be doubted that even a quorum was present, but, on the other hand, it may be assumed that every effort was made to attain one.

There were six mockeries of Jesus in all, all of which were designed to totally humiliate Christ, Luke 22:63-65. We would expect this kind of behaviour from the Romans but since this took place in the court of the high priests of Israel, this tells us just how far from God they had come. The religious leaders allowed this to happen right in front of their very eyes.

Jesus went through six trials before His execution. There were six parts to Jesus’ trial, three stages in a religious court and three stages before a Roman court. On the night of His arrest, Jesus was brought before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin, a group of religious leaders.

In these trials He was charged with blasphemy, claiming to be the Son of God. He was imprisoned at Caiaphas’ palace. The Jewish High Priest and the Jewish High Court, the Sanhedrin, effectively asked Jesus two questions, ‘Are you the Messiah? and Are you the Son of God?’ To both of these, Jesus answered, ‘I AM.’ This was enough to condemn Jesus for blaspheming God by claiming to be God.

The Whole Trial Of Jesus Was Illegal

1. No formal change had been made against Him.

2. The arrest was made by the men who would be His judges. The High Priests and the Sanhedrin were also the ones who accused Him which violating the Law which said that the Council was not permitted to lay charges.

3. The trial was held, at night. Forbidden by the Law, because it was believed that the darkness might bind the mind of the accused a cause him to testify against himself.

4. His questioning by the High Priest was alone forbidden by the Law. The Judges were not allowed to question the accused, because he might be led into providing evidence against himself.

5. The law required the High Priest to ‘search, enquire and ask diligently’, if the charge against the accused was true, Deuteronomy 13:14.

6. A trial could not be held before sunrise. So that potential witnesses for the defence could be present.

7. A guilty verdict could not be pronounced on the same day as the trial. A night must intervene between trial and sentence so that the Judges could meditate on the verdict.

8. After the verdict, a period of nine hours must be allowed for potential objections to be made to the verdict.

9. The verdict must be pronounced in the Chamber of Stones, the room in the Temple, where the Sanhedrin held its Meetings, before being made public.

10. The death sentence was invalid because it was not the unanimous verdict of the full Council. Joseph of Arimathea was not present, Luke 23:50-51.

11. The testimony of the witnesses, procured by the Priests, on which the ‘Guilty’ verdict was based, was false. They claimed that Jesus said, ‘I will destroy this Temple’.

12. The Law forbade the holding of a Trial on a Friday. The trial was illegal because it was held on a day that was followed by an Annual Sabbath, the Passover, John 18:28.

Peter Disowns Jesus

‘Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.’ Matthew 26:69-75

In John 18:12-14 we find that Jesus was first taken before the powerful Annas, the ex-high priest and the power behind the current one, these verses remind us of the important prophecy made by the current high priest, John 11:49-51, which he had said without realising the truth behind his statement.

While Jesus is on trial, we find Peter is about to deny Jesus three times just as Jesus said he would, Matthew 26:33-35 / Mark 14:29-31 / John 13:37-38.

Peter’s First Denial

Here we read about Peter’s first denial, John 18:15-18, but who is the ‘other disciple’ mentioned in John 18:15?

Traditionally this has been accepted as John himself, this would be consistent with John’s habit of not naming himself, John 1:40 / John 13:23-25 / John 19:26 / John 20:2-8 / John 21:20-24.  Also, Peter and John appear to have been constant companions, Luke 22:8 / Acts 3:1 / Acts 4:13 / Acts 8:14.

This unnamed disciple ‘was known to the high priest’, which means he was well enough known for the servant girl to admit him. Peter and it appears John follow the group including the Lord to the house of the high priest, it’s most likely that Annas and Caiaphas lived at the same address. John is known at the gate and allowed into the courtyard and seeks permission for Peter to come in also.

The girl at the gate sees Peter and recognises him as one of Jesus’ followers, she asks him about this and Peter makes that first terrible denial but Peter and John both enter, Peter and John find a fire with people around and go to it to keep warm. It appears as if the other disciples had fled back to ‘his own’, in accordance with Jesus’ prophecy of John 16:32.

In John 18:17 we see the question asked by the maid is phrased to anticipate a negative answer, ‘you aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?

Remember that the ‘other disciple’ was known to be one of Jesus’ followers, he had openly entered along with Jesus, John 18:15.

How Easily Peter Fell!

Questioned by a maid, ‘paidiske’, girl, he said, ‘I am not.’ Luke 26:69-70. The other disciple was apparently in no danger, why didn’t Peter own up?

Perhaps he was taken by surprise when a mere girl challenged him, maybe he was afraid he would be recognized as the one who wounded Malchus, we know that nearby is the ‘officers,’ John 18:18, who had been involved in the arrest of Jesus, John 18:13-14. A few hours ago, he had said he would die for Jesus, John 13:37 but now, a frightened man, he denies his Master.

Peter’s Second And Third Denial

Peter’s second and third denial. It’s difficult to harmonise the accounts of the denials in the Gospels with that of John, John 18:25-27. This was during Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas, John 18:24-28. Matthew and Mark relate that before this Peter had gone out to the ‘porch’ or ‘gateway’, Matthew 26:71 / Mark 14:68.

Perhaps, deeply ashamed by his first denial, he wanted to slip away unseen but was unable to escape unobserved. Matthew and Mark both tell of his being accosted on the porch by a ‘maid’. Accused of having been with Jesus, ‘he denied it with an oath’, Matthew 26:71-72 / Mark 14:69-70.

Peter ‘was standing and warming himself’ at a charcoal fire, John 18:18. This charcoal only mentioned only by John would provide much heat but little light.

And he is challenged by bystanders, ‘you aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?’ again he answers, ‘I am not’. Then he is challenged by a slave of the high priest, who is also a kinsman of Malchus, ‘Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?’ John 18:26.

The Gospels tell what was said both to and about Peter regarding his speech, Matthew 26:73, the bystanders, ‘certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you’. Mark 14:70, the bystanders, ‘certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.’ Luke 22:59, another bystander, probably a maid, ‘certainly this man was with him; for he is a Galilean.’

So, we see he was twice challenged about his presence with the Lord. First by a slave girl, one of the most unimportant persons imaginable, her question expected a negative answer and Peter takes the easy way out.

Next, by a relative of the servant whose ear Peter had cut off. Peter again denied any link with Jesus, as he concluded his statement, the crowing began. John’s account is more discreet than the other Gospels, he merely states, ‘Peter again denied it, and at once the cock crowed’.

Alleged Contradiction

Notice that Matthew, Matthew 26:34, and John, John 13:38, both say that, ‘before the rooster crows’, Peter will have denied the Lord three times. And now notice that Mark says that ‘before the rooster crows twice’, Mark 14:30, Peter will deny Christ three times.

Although some see this as a contradiction, when we actually take a moment to slowly read the text itself, we will soon realise there’s no contradiction. Notice how Matthew and John don’t expressly state how many times the rooster will crow.

They both simply say that Peter will deny Jesus three times, ‘before the rooster crows’, but they don’t tell us how many times it will crow. I believe it’s reasonable to accept that Mark is being a little more specific in terms of how many times the rooster will actually crow.

In fact, if you look at the word, ‘twice’ in Mark 14:10 and Mark 14:72, you will notice that it has a footnote, which tells us that ‘some early manuscripts do not have twice’.

In other words, it’s possible that different accounts are due to an early copyist error in Mark, that resulted in the insertion of the word, ‘twice’ in early manuscripts.

Peter Wept Bitterly

Luke records in his account that at this moment Jesus was outside, probably on his way from Annas’ quarters to Caiaphas’s and he looked straight at Peter, who broke down and cried, Luke 22:61-62 / Mark 14:71-72.

We can’t help but sympathise with Peter at this point, as he saw Jesus and then remembered what He prophesied about his denying Him three times. He literally was sobbing his heart out.

This was probably one of the lowest points in his life and it was an event he wasn’t going to forget for the rest of his life. It’s interesting that things seem to happen in threes for Peter from this point on, John 21:15-17 / Acts 10:9-16 / Acts 10:17-19.

What Peter was demonstrating here was genuine godly sorrow, which was the opposite of what Judas was demonstrating, as he went on to hang himself, Matthew 27:5 / 2 Corinthians 7:10.

If we learn anything from Peter, we should learn that he didn’t allow this occasion to affect the rest of his life, he went on to become a powerful apostle for the Lord and became bolder when he spoke more openly about Christ, Acts 2.

As Christians we too will make many mistakes, some out of fear of being persecuted but we must learn to draw a line under those occasions and move on.

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