Matthew 26:31-46

Thursday Evening Bible Study

June 14, 2007

:31-35 Peter’s Denial Predicted

:31 Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'

Jesus is referring to a prophecy where the shepherd would be struck and the flock scattered. The prophecy comes from Zechariah:

(Zec 13:6-7 NKJV)  "And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will answer, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.' {7} "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against the Man who is My Companion," Says the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.

When Jesus quotes this, who was it that struck the shepherd?

God was the one who would strike the Shepherd.  Isaiah wrote,

(Isa 53:10 NKJV)  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

God would “strike” the shepherd on the cross.  God is a just God and He must punish sin.  Jesus took the wrath of God for us on the cross.  He paid for our sins.

:32 "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."

He tells them He will rise from the dead, but it seems to go right over their heads.

:33 Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble."

stumbleskandalizo – to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall.  It comes from the word for “trigger”, as the trigger that sets off a trap.

:34 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the 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!" And so said all the disciples.


Humility and victory

I don’t want to give you an excuse to sin.  My intent is not to give you permission to sin.
But I shudder every time I hear a Christian say, “I’ll never do that sin again”.

Don’t misunderstand me – God wants us to turn from sin.  God can give us victory over sin.

But when we expect in our own strength to “never do that sin again”, I don’t know why we’re surprised when we do.

Pride makes us vulnerable to falling.
(Prov 16:18 NKJV)  Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
(1 Cor 10:11-13 NKJV)  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. {12} Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. {13} No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
When Paul gives Timothy instruction about appointing elders, he says…
(1 Tim 3:6 NKJV)  not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

Notice the connection between “pride” and “fall”.

In contrast, if pride makes me vulnerable to falling, then humility is one of the keys to victory over sin.
(1 Pet 5:5 NKJV)  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."

We need God’s help.  We need God’s grace.  Grace comes from humility.

I don’t think humility means humiliating myself.  Humility doesn’t come from me making a fool of myself.  Humility comes when I recognize that I am a person in great need of God.  Humility comes when I stop thinking so much about myself and simply focus on serving God and serving people.


Sometimes I have this need to be noticed.  So when I’m in a crowd I get up on a step stool so people will notice me – that’s pride.  I may be able to get more people to notice me when I’m up on my step stool, but I sure can’t go very far in life.  I’m stuck on my step stool.  And it’s easy to tip over when you’re standing on a step stool.

If I want to progress in life, I have to get down off my step stool so I can move through life.


One whale sounded the following caution to his friend: “Better watch it; when you get to the top and start to blow, that’s when you get harpooned!”

:36-46 Praying in Gethsemane

:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there."

GethsemaneGethsemane – “an oil press”.  Gethsemane is not some distant place from where Jesus is talking with His disciples.  We already read after celebrating the Passover

(Mat 26:30 NKJV)  And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Gethsemane is at the base of the Mount of Olives.  It’s a quarter mile from the Temple Mount, just on the other side of the Kidron valley.  You can see the Temple Mount from the grounds of the gardens.

:37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.

sorrowfullupeo – to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow

deeply distressedademoneo – to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed; This is the strongest of the three Greek words in the NT for depression.

(Isa 53:3 NKJV)  He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief

:38 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me."

:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."


The help from prayer

Does prayer do anything?  Are we helped by praying?
Here is Jesus facing the most difficult time in His life.  He is under more pressure than you and I will EVER face in our lives.  He’s not doing well with it.  He’s struggling with it.  He’s deeply troubled.  He’s overwhelmed with the darkness of depression.
And what does He do?
He prays.
I know that sometimes us pastors can get a little cheap in our advice.  And I know that sometimes when a person comes to us for help we can resort to little pat answers that don’t take much thought or compassion.  Sometimes us pastors can come across with our advice as, “Take two prayers and call me in the morning, and by the way, get away little boy, you’re bothering me…” (like W.C.Fields).  I’m sure I’ve been guilty of telling people to pray for the wrong reasons.
But the absolute truth is that there is no greater advice we can give to a person than to pray.
Look at some of God’s promises about prayer:
(Psa 55:22 NKJV)  Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

How are we “sustained” when we’re under a heavy burden?  By prayer.  By casting our burden on the Lord.

(Jer 33:3 NKJV)  'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

How does God show us great and mighty things?  Through prayer.

(James 1:5 NKJV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

How do we gain wisdom in our trials?  Through prayer.

(Phil 4:6-7 NKJV)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

How do we gain the peace that passes understanding in a difficult time?  Through prayer.

(Mat 21:21-22 NKJV)  So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. {22} "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

How do we move mountains?  Through prayer.

I came across a study done by Ellison Research concerning pastors and prayer.  One of the things the study measured was how much time pastors spent praying and how satisfied they were with their prayer life. 

The average Protestant minister prays for 39 minutes a day, although 21 percent typically spend 15 minutes or less per day in prayer. Younger ministers average 35 minutes a day, compared to 41 minutes among pastors 45 to 59, and 38 minutes among older pastors.

Two of the significant findings about being satisfied with prayer…

Ellison found that pastors who are satisfied with their prayer lives are defined by the amount of time spent in prayer (56 minutes for “very satisfied” versus 21 minutes for “very dissatisfied”), and how they divide their prayer time (less time making requests and more time listening to God for greater satisfaction).

Are you going through a difficult time right now?  God wants you to cultivate your prayer life.  He wants you to spend time with Him.

:40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?

:41 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

watchgregoreuo – to watch; metaph. give strict attention to, be cautious, active; from egeiro – to arouse, cause to rise; to arouse from sleep, to awake

prayproseuchomai – to offer prayers, to pray


Handling Temptation

I think that Jesus Himself is facing His greatest temptation – the temptation to run.
He and the disciples have finished celebrating the Passover.  They have no other reason to be in Jerusalem.  Jesus knows He is going to be betrayed, arrested, beaten, and crucified in the next couple of hours.  They’ve already left the city and there is no good reason to stick around other than the fact that Jesus knows this is the reason He came – to die.
Jesus tells His disciples to do two things:
(1 Pet 5:8 NKJV)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
We need to stay alert because we have an enemy that is looking to cause us harm.

Joe Lewis was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.  He fought, if I recall correctly, 71 times professionally; he lost only once.  During the decade and a half he held his title, he defended it 25 times.  Bill Stern, the voice of American sports on radio, decided toward the end of the Brown Bomber’s career that he would interview him and find out the technique or the secret that Lewis employed in fighting his opponents and how he could win over people who were at times much larger than he.  His answer was very simple “I study my opponent, I plan my fight very carefully.  The results are always the same.  1) I’m never surprised and 2) I stay on the offensive”.

That sounds like how we ought to handle our enemy, Satan.  Stay alert.


Standing at the South Pole is like being in the eye of a hurricane—it’s deceivingly calm.  The quietness seems inconsistent with the fact that mighty winds originate there. How is this possible?  As warm air from the equator flows in over the polar region, it descends, becomes cold and dense, and sinks to the frigid surface.  Since the ice-covered plateau tapers off toward the oceans, and no mountains of other obstacles stand in the way, gravity pulls the heavy, cold air down the smooth slopes.  The wind picks up tremendous speed as it moves northward toward the equator.  Gradually it is heated by the sun and begins to rise, creating a circular pattern to drive the earth’s weather machine that is so vital to our existence.

For Christians, quiet times of prayer and worship also give rise to great power.  They might seem non-productive because nothing appears to be happening.

Our urge is almost compulsive: move, do, work, worry, struggle.  Yet at the heart of accomplishing things for God must be that regular experience of calm followed by an unobstructed flow of energy.

Staying awake and praying are not what our flesh wants to do.
Note:  Jesus watched and prayed, and He didn’t fall into temptation.  The disciples DIDN’T watch and pray and they blew it.

:42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done."


Praying for God’s will

There are some among the “faith” teachers who claim that it is a cop-out to ask for God’s will.  They say we ought to “claim” our healing and in a sense force God to do what we want.
I don’t see that kind of attitude in Jesus’ prayers.
There is nothing unspiritual about asking for God’s will.
I think Jesus has a little better idea of how to pray than these guys do.
Jesus had already taught us to pray:

(Mat 6:10 KJV)  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

We have a promise about praying according to God's will:

(1 John 5:14-15 NKJV)  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. {15} And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Once we ask God for something He wants to give us, we'll get a positive answer to our prayers.

The trick is just learning to ask for the right things.

Sometimes we never know unless we start asking for them.

:43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

:44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.


Persistence in the wrong prayers

Pay attention:  Jesus has asked for the wrong thing three times.
Did Jesus ever pray for something that was out of God’s will?  Yes.  Right here.  Three times.  He asks for God to change the plan of redemption.
Of course Jesus submits to God’s will, but don’t forget that three times He’s asked for something outside of God’s will.
Sometimes we get to God’s will by continuing to pray for the wrong thing.  What do I mean?  The first couple of times it seems like it might actually work, that God might actually do what we’re asking.  But the more we pray, the more we realize that we’re asking for the wrong thing.

:45 Then He came to His 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 "Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."