last hours of Christ’s life on earth are well documented in the Gospels; for
good reason – He is the Lamb of God, by whom we have salvation. From these
scenes we may learn.
Mat 26:30-56 NASB
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (31) Then Jesus *said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it
is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL
BE SCATTERED.' (32) "But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to
Galilee." (33) But Peter said to
Him, "Even though all may fall away
because of You, I will never fall away." (34)
Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a
rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." (35) Peter *said to Him, "Even if I have to die
with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing
too. (36) Then Jesus *came with them to a
place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, "Sit
here while I go over there and pray." (37)
And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved
and distressed. (38) Then He *said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death;
remain here and keep watch with Me." (39)
And He went a little beyond them, and
fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father,
if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You
will." (40) And He *came to the
disciples and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? (41) "Keep watching and
praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the
flesh is weak." (42) He went away
again a second time and prayed, saying, "My
Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." (43) Again He came and found them sleeping,
for their eyes were heavy. (44) And He left
them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once
more. (45) Then He *came to the disciples and
*said to them, "Are you still sleeping and
resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into
the hands of sinners. (46) "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me
is at hand!" (47) While He was
still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a
large crowd with swords and clubs, who came
from the chief priests and elders of the people. (48)
Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss,
He is the one; seize Him." (49)
Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed
Him. (50) And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid
hands on Jesus and seized Him. (51) And
behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and
struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. (52) Then Jesus *said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who
take up the sword shall perish by the sword. (53) "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My
Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of
angels? (54) "How
then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which
say that it must happen this way?" (55) At that time Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as
against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did
not seize Me. (56) "But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures
of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.
often has it happened to you? You said you would do something, and when the
time came to do it, for whatever reason, you failed to deliver. If someone
asks you why, you’re likely to say, “Nobody’s perfect.” Let’s examine this in
is normal to promise
lovers promise each other a lifetime together; athletes promise victory – it is
entirely normal for human beings to make promises. Peter is our example here.
He said it, he meant it (that was Peter). Once he said it, all the other
disciples chimed in. Why do we do things like this?
reason is that we want to shape our future in accordance with our
visions. The night is young, the wine flows freely, the girl is beautiful
– it seems like just what we’ve been looking for. We capture the moment
and promise to make it just like this for the rest of our lives.
reason is simply to express how we feel. When things begin to get
serious, and we really don’t know what to do, we can always join with the
rest of the team and say, “Me too. That’s how I feel.”
is normal to fail. Often, miserably
does it happen so frequently? One very good reason is in the nature of human
beings: we are both animal and spirit. The spiritual within us recognizes the
good we should do; the body denies it, longing for its pleasures instead.
what do we fail in? Isn’t it usually something really trivial? Sometimes it
rises to the level of real importance, but most of the time it’s ordinary
we’re sinners, that’s why. It is the nature of sinners that they know what
they should do and don’t do it. All of us are sinners; all of us have failed
at one time or another. For this Christ offers us repentance, forgiveness and
there something we can do to prevent it? There is. It is called bodily
discipline – training your earthly nature to follow after your heavenly
nature. A man is a slave to whatever controls him. This means that we cannot
use our emotions as an excuse for our behavior. “I just got mad and hit him”
means that you hit him. Discipline yourself so that you don’t get mad.
of us are perfect. There will be failures along the way. But because you are
imitating Christ in His control, the Holy Spirit will be there to help. You
can’t make yourself perfect – but you can try to do better.
Agony in the Garden
is fully human
it never really impressed itself on you, but our Lord is fully human. He knows
our pains and agonies, and nowhere is it better shown than in this garden.
it be possible” – Can you not sense the fear in Christ’s heart? It is no
disgrace to be afraid; it’s your actions when afraid that count. He knows
brings along a few close friends. Nothing is so human – we need a little
company and moral support in trying times.
you need the physical evidence – look at the sweat.
is fully divine
this most human of nights we still see the divine nature of Christ:
not my will” – do you see the complete obedience to the Father? He asks
in His humanity; He accepts in His divinity.
that incident with the sword. He has the power to (as we say today) cut
and run. Overwhelming force is His; and here is an example of the loyalty
of His disciples. He rejects the sword to embrace the Cross.
then would the Scriptures be fulfilled?” He is completely conscious that
His final days have been prophesied. God will not go back on the word of
the Lamb of God
is remarkable: Christ shows us the Lamb of God. Consider:
goes without a fight – indeed, He stops a fight before He goes.
tells His disciples, “After I have been raised…” He is well aware of the
power of the Resurrection. He bids His disciples to wait, so that He may
indeed fulfill His mission.
up, let’s go.” Even when the betrayer approaches, there is no thought of
running away. In fact, He heads toward His betrayal.
this most important night, Christ continually exhibits his care for mankind.
sometimes miss this, but Christ is our example for life. “What would Jesus
do?” is the modern way of putting it; the ancients would have called it the
“Imitation of Christ.” Look at the example He sets:
He has for the past three years, He sets the example for His disciples
that they must go to God in prayer. When most of us would be looking for
a way to “get out of Dodge,” He is in prayer asking strength to accept
things as they are.
is also our model for dealing with fear. Bravado would say, “I’m not
afraid.” Insanity would deny any reason for fear. Courage looks fear in
the face, then does what God commands.
is also our model of gentleness. When the disciples sleep, His rebuke is
gentle. He is modest in dealing with the mob arresting Him. Such
gentleness comes only from great strength.
may not appear to be an example of His care, but see how Christ reassures His
disciples by quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament (the matter is greatly
expounded in the other Gospels.)
the shepherd” is taken from Zechariah 13:7. It is long known as a
Messianic prophecy. That’s probably not much comfort – but it is
assurance that the matter is in the hands of God.
can see similar assurances of this in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, to name just
a couple of the more prominent Scriptures. All these were available to
Christ so that He might comfort and reassure His disciples.
lesson is plain: the Scriptures are there for us to use, in peace or in
crisis. Yet another reason we should be familiar with them.
never forgets His mission: to seek and save the lost. He therefore reaches
out to those who are now His oppressors. Consider:
could simply have let Malchus
bleed from the wound where his ear was sliced off. But no; He heals him,
even knowing that this man will be involved with Christ’s arrest.
how gently He chides the mob – He was in the Temple courts all day; why
not then? Then, as if to excuse them, He tells them this too was
the supreme example of his willingness to reach out to save the lost is
this: He called His betrayer “friend.”
Exult, Christian, you have
gained by this bargain of your enemies; what Judas sold, and what the Jews
bought, belongs to you.