Sermon: “One Amazing Week” – continued
Some introductory thoughts:
- Some of the men who were part of the founding of our great USA said some noteworthy things. For example, Benjamin Franklin commented: “Those willing to trade liberty for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” Thomas Jefferson stated: “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” William Penn said: “Those people who are not governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.”
- In these days of uncertainties about the future of our nation, Christians can be most certain about many things pertaining to our own future. We know that it is the Lord who gives each of us our very life and breath (Acts 17:25). Our lives are in His hands. We also know that once we are absent from this body we will be present with the Lord Himself (2Corinthians 5:6-8), so we walk by faith and not by sight in this present world (vs. 7). The next two verses read like this: “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (vv. 9-10). God desires that we labor in faithfulness while we are here on earth. Someday He will sort out all of that out and give rewards for the good we’ve done, at the Bema Seat of Christ.
- In our current dilemma and restricted activities in America and Montana right now, we can be sure that there ARE opportunities for us to serve Him. Some are faced with the brevity of life, and fear possible death. Of course, we know that death is much more than a possibility, it’s a reality (Hebrews 9:27). Will COVID-19 be the cause of our passing into the arms of our Savior? Not likely. But many of the lost in our world are faced with fear right now.
- A friend of mine and a pastor in Big Lake, Alaska and I were visiting on the phone Friday. Doug said that it was God’s hand in everything that allowed him and his wife Linda to travel “outside” from AK to Detroit so that they could be with Doug’s dad in his last days of life. After his dad went on to glory, they were able to fly back home from Detroit, through Seattle and on to Anchorage. At the airport they were required to sign a document stating that they would be quarantined for 2 weeks after arriving home. That doesn’t stop them from reaching out to others and trusting God to work through the circumstances. Doug said that a lady communicated with them during all of this and said that she feared dying and wanted to make sure of heaven as her future home! Praise the Lord, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior! Doug’s comment was: “See, the Corona Virus is working!” J. Of course, he was in a humorous way, saying that God was at work in a special way throughout the Corona Virus scare.
- And so it is, the Lord is at work, and people need to hear of His sacrifice for them as individuals. Jesus Christ went to the cross for you and me, yeah, for all (1John2:2). This week we will pick up where we left off last week – on Thursday of that one amazing week.
Last week we looked into:
- Mark 10:46-11:1 . . . FROM JERICHO TO BETHANY (Friday)
- John 12:1-11 . . . DINNER WITH FRIENDS (Saturday)
- John 12:12-13 . . . THE KING PRESENTED (Sunday)
- Mark 11:12-18 . . . CASTING OUT MONEY CHANGERS (Monday)
- Luke 19:47 . . . JESUS TAUGHT DAILY (Monday – Thursday)
- Luke 22:1-6 . . . JUDAS MAKES A DEAL (Tuesday or Wednesday)
- Luke 22:7-20 . . . THE PASSOVER MEAL (Thursday)
- Read Luke 22:39-46 JESUS FERVENTLY PRAYS
- As we saw last week, Judas was not in the company of the 11 disciples any longer. Jesus had just instituted the Lord’s Supper and told them that the next time He would drink the fruit of the vine with them would be in His Kingdom (Mark 14:25)! What a glorious thought . . . we too will someday enjoy the bread and fresh fruit of the vine with the Lord Jesus in His Kingdom! For the Christian, we can look forward to that. In a wonderful way, we will look on The One who fulfilled the purpose of the Lord’s Supper picture when He shed His blood for the remission (forgiveness) of our sins on the cross, and celebrate it with HIM!
- After supper, Mark 14:26 says: “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.” On the walk around to the Garden on the Mount of Olives, Jesus continued teaching them as they went. He warned them of the persecution that would soon follow, and that they would be offended because of Him that night. It was now evening on Thursday. It was here that He also spoke to Peter of his denials. (vv. 27-31).
- Once they were in the Garden, as you have read in Luke 22:39-46, Jesus began to pray. This was a very regular and important activity of the Lord Jesus. Is it important to you? Do you make it a regular part of each day? He commanded “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” We too must pray likewise. They were about to flee, be scattered and deny the Lord Himself. Under persecution, the temptation to be ashamed of the Gospel and even deny our faith in Jesus will be strong. Many professing Christians have fallen into doubt during hard times, even blaming God for their troubles. Pray fervently during trying times. Pray fervently in any time of life.
- As Jesus prayed that night, there are a few notable things. He walked off to a place alone – most likely to avoid any distractions. Let’s also pray when and where there are few distractions. Jesus did ask the Father that the suffering may be withheld. We too can ask God the same. He wants us to open our hearts to Him. Then, of course, the condition was God’s will. Whatever the situation, may God’s will be done! The Bible never says to pray that our will be done. Another amazing thing is that an angel from heaven came to strengthen Him. The Lord knows, we need His help to pray and do as we ought. He will give us strength when we are weak, as we pray!
- Verse 44 tells of the fervency of our Lord as He prayed! His agonizing over the burden he would bear on the cross, namely, our sins, was a truly heavy burden! He was so earnest in prayer over this that Luke (the beloved physician) describes a condition that may have been hematidrosis. The Lord is said to have sweat great drops of blood as it were. It is a physical condition which rarely occurs but is usually connected with severe mental stress and agony. In any case, we know that He fervently prayed and agonized as He did so.
- Do we practice a fervent prayer life? I for one would say “not as I ought”. Part of James 5:16 says: “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” God wants His children to be fervent in prayer . . . at all times.
- Read 22:47-53 A HYPOCRITICAL KISS
- It was now Friday, after dark. Most of us are familiar with this part of the amazing week. Jesus had often gone to this place on the Mount of Olives to pray. Judas knew that and arranged to give Him away to the soldiers and servants of the High Priest. Judas had previously sold out for 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests (Matt. 26:14-16, see also Zech. 11:12-13) and on this night led the squad to the Garden there.
- Incredibly, the squad was, in general, not able to identify Jesus. They had all heard about Him, but somehow did not know Him by sight. Judas had a sign planned that would give the identity of Jesus away . . . a kiss! This was a common greeting for disciples to use, showing respect to their teachers. Hypocrisy. How dastardly. Judas was not showing respect at all, quite the opposite! Jesus was not caught by surprise (vs. 48) but knew the whole of the matter. May we always be sincere as Christians with our greetings toward others, for if it is hypocritical, it is dastardly.
- Luke also records for us the healing of Malchus. We know his name from John 18:10. It was Peter who grabbed his cutlet and struck out boldly (John 18:10), with a wild stroke cut Malchus’ ear off. Peter was usually a reactionist, and here Jesus gently tells him to put up his sword, it was the time for these things to occur by God’s design. He then touched Machus and miraculously healed him. Could Jesus have escaped the soldiers? Could He have avoided the events of that night and the following day? Sure. But Jesus chose to do the will of the Father, and with joy went through all of this for you and me (Heb. 12:2).
- Read 22:54-62 PETER’S DENIAL
- Our dear Peter had said: “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” in Matthew 26:33. Jesus corrected him by telling him of the very event recorded in these 9 verses.
- How could Peter be so fickle? Unstable? Careless? Afraid? I would like to propose the following answers. First, in our own strength and determination, all of us are weak creatures. We can only succeed in the things of the Lord in His strength (2Cor. 12:10, Philippians 4:13). Peter was determined to endure whatever was to come in his own strength. Second, Peter had apparently not taken the Lord’s warnings here seriously. We must all take the warnings of God and His word with utmost earnestness. Third, Peter had not taken the admonition of the Lord to watch and pray “lest ye enter into temptation” seriously either (vs. 46)!
- For all of his courage and zeal, Peter was amazingly unprepared for the attacks of the Devil. As Christians, we can be prepared if we take these three suggestions into account. Remember 1Peter 5:8&9? “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” I think Peter knew what he was writing about, don’t you?
- Read 22:63 – 23:25 THE MOCK TRIALS OF CHRIST
- At this point, I will summarize these events. Back in Luke 22:54 we read that they had taken the Lord to the high priest’s house. Our Lord endured six different “trials” before He was condemned to be crucified; 3 before the Jews and 3 before the Roman authorities. First, He was taken to Annas, the former high priest who was an influential man in Israel, and still retained his former title. Second, Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, his son-in-law (Matt. 26:57), who was now the official high priest. Then, at daybreak, He was tried before the Sanhedrin and found guilty (Luke 22:66-71). All of this was done illegally at night! The “witnesses” were not in agreement (Mark 14:53-59). The whole procedure was a mockery, and only done out of fear and jealousy. What a shameful misconduct! Isaiah foretold of this in his 53rd
- The Jews did not have the authority or the right to capital punishment (John 18:31-32). Then they took Jesus to the Roman authorities to get the job done. The forth “trial” was before Pilate (Luke 23:1-4). Pilate tried to avoid a decision because he was afraid of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God (John 19:7-8). Fifth, Pilate sent Him to Herod (Luke 23:6-12) who also mocked the Lord (vs. 11) and sent Him back to Pilate! Sixth, Jesus stood before that angry crowd and Pontius Pilate. This Roman authority, stated that there were no condemning accusations and no evidences that would warrant an action. So, he offered to scourge Jesus and release Him (vs. 16) as there was a custom to release a prisoner at the Jews annual feast. This did not satisfy the angry crowd (vs. 17)! They demanded the release of another prisoner named Barabbas, who was a murderer (vv. 18-19). Eventually, Pilate gave in to the mob and did as they requested (vv. 21-25).
Isn’t that the way it often is with mankind? That which is the good and needed is rejected, and that which is what is bad and harmful is embraced! What an Amazing week we have been looking into! And, wow, there are many lessons for both the Believer and the non-believer. For the non-believer, Jesus went through all of this for you (Rom. 5:8) will you accept Him as your personal Savior? For those who do believe in Christ, let’s learn from the Lord’s example of prayer and Peter’s unpreparedness. Are you preparing yourself every day dear Christian? We can, we are able in Christ and we must!
Next week I will present many of the amazing events that took place while our Savior was on the Cross. I’m looking forward to the Sunday after that (May 3rd) when we plan to celebrate the resurrection and events after the cross as a church family together!