Matthew 26:47-68

Thursday Evening Bible Study

June 21, 2007


We are in the last night before the crucifixion.  Jesus has celebrated the Passover with His disciples and started a new thing that we call “communion”.  Jesus warned the disciples that they would all leave Him, though Peter very strongly objected.  Jesus spent the evening in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed for God to make a way out of what He was facing.

:47-56 Jesus’ arrest

:47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

:48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him."

It’s interesting that some of the people in the mob wouldn’t be able to recognize Jesus.  Judas has to point Him out.

:49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

kissedkataphileo (“against” + “to love”) – to kiss much, kiss again and again, kiss tenderly.  It wasn’t just a regular peck on the cheek (phileo), but a passionate kiss.

:50 But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

friendhetairos – a comrade, mate, partner; friend, (my good friend)


The depth of betrayal

Jesus wasn’t betrayed by some stranger that He didn’t like.  He was betrayed by a close friend.
David was also betrayed by a close friend, and this betrayal became a picture, a prophecy of what would happen to Jesus.
One of David’s “counselors” was a fellow named Ahithophel.  There is evidence that Ahithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba, possibly a reason why he would turn on David (the humiliation, the betrayal of David against Uriah).
When David’s son Absalom rebelled against David, Ahithophel joined the cause and helped drive David out of Jerusalem.  It was Ahithophel’s idea to have Absalom sleep with David’s concubines.  Ahithophel wanted to pursue David immediately and put him to death, but another fellow helped slow things down so David could get away (2Sam. 15).
David wrote,

(Psa 41:9 NKJV)  Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.

(Psa 55:12-14 NKJV)  For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. {13} But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. {14} We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.

Some of you have been down those horrible but well worn roads in life.  You know too well what it feels like to be betrayed by a spouse, a parent, or a child.  Some of you have experienced betrayal at work, others at school, some from a neighbor, and some from the closest of friends.
David not only talked about the pain of betrayal, but he also gave us the way out of the pain.

(Psa 55:22 NKJV)  Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Ultimately, we need to learn to forgive those who betray us.

It might seem the wrong thing to forgive someone who betrays you, but unforgiveness only leads to further pain and torment.

Jesus told the parable of the man who was forgiven a great debt by his master but wouldn’t forgive someone who owed him a small sum …

(Mat 18:34 NKJV)  "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

Pray.  Forgive.

I’ve been thinking about situations in my own life where people I’ve been close to have done hurtful things.  I’ve had friends in the church who have caused a lot of hurt and damage.

A few weeks back at the Pastors’ Conference, one of the speakers said something that made me realize that I need to rethink my thoughts about some of those situations.  I’ve been thinking about how quickly I will tell people about those hurtful times.  Sometimes I share those things in order to let another pastor know that I know what he’s going through.  But sometimes I share for the sake of getting sympathy from other pastors by letting them know how much I’ve been hurt.  And when I focus on the hurt like that, I realize I haven’t totally forgiven those folks.

:51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

John tells us the secret of who it was with the sword, it was his good buddy Peter…

(John 18:10 NKJV)  Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.

Luke gives us another insight:

(Luke 22:51 NKJV)  But Jesus answered and said, "Permit even this." And He touched his ear and healed him.

:52 But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

:53 "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

The word “legion” is a Roman word, describing a grouping of soldiers within the Roman army.

In the time of Augustus, a full Roman legion had 6,100 foot soldiers and 726 riders on horses.

If we take Jesus literally, He’s saying that at just a word, over 80,000 (81,912) angels would show up to defend Him.

And keep in mind that in one of the historical records of the Old Testament, one angel alone killed 185,000 Assyrians (Is. 37:36) in one night!  What would 80,000 angels be capable of?

What Jesus is trying to get across to the disciples is that if He didn't feel that it was right to be arrested, all He'd have to do is say the word and the bad guys would be toast!

Why twelve legions?

I wonder if Jesus uses the number of "12" legions in that He'd call one legion for each apostle.

Think of the angels showed up to protect Elisha when the armies of Syria came to capture him.
(2 Ki 6:17 NKJV)  And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

If I could only have my eyes opened more often.  Perhaps I wouldn’t get so afraid at times.

:54 "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"

Jesus has to be arrested.  He has to fulfill the Scriptures that talked of His death for our sins.

(Isa 53:4-6 NKJV)  Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. {5} But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. {6} All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

:55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.

:56 "But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled – The chief priests may be thinking that they are the ones in charge, but they don’t realize that Jesus is the one in charge and that God had planned this thing to happen long, long ago.


Safety in a dangerous place

I wonder if we’ve seen too many horror flicks.  The purpose of a horror flick is to make you afraid.  Be afraid, be very afraid.
Could it be that as we are walking with the Lord, we can find that place of safety, right in the middle of the storm?
Jesus went through depression and fear, but He came out of Gethsemane able to stand the test.  He saw God’s purpose.  He trusted God’s purpose.
Psalm 91 talks about the sense of safety we have available in difficult times.
(Psa 91:9-16 NKJV)  Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, {10} No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; {11} For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. {12} In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. {13} You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. {14} "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. {15} He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. {16} With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation."

I think that sometimes we think this means we will never go through difficulty in life.  I beginning to think that it means that when we go through difficulty, that we can have God’s assurance that we’re going to be okay through it.

Paul wrote,

(2 Cor 4:8-9 NKJV)  We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

We can have safety in a dangerous place.


Our boys all went through the eighth grade with the same teacher, James Bove.  Mr. Bove has a tradition of taking his eighth grade class out to Joshua Tree for a couple of days and among other things, learn to rock climb.  He’s pretty good at it – with all the ropes and harnesses and stuff like that.  It’s a pretty scary thing to climb up some of the rocks at Joshua Tree, but if you have the right teacher, the right equipment, and you pay attention to the instruction, it’s amazing what you can do.  You can be 200 feet up a vertical face and not be afraid because you’ve got your harness, and somebody’s holding on to your rope.

God promises to take care of us, even in the scary times.

:57-68 On trial before Caiaphas

:57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

The scribes and elders were waiting.

:58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest's courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

at a distance – literally, “from afar”.  For the last three years Peter has been following Jesus.  But on this night he doesn’t seem to want to follow too closely.


Follow closely

First Peter was asleep at the wheel – falling asleep in the garden when he should have been praying.
Now he makes his next mistake – not getting too close to Jesus.
It’s not like Peter’s NOT following Jesus at all.  He’s following, but just not too closely.
Satan knows that the farther he can get you from Jesus, the easier it will be to get you to stumble and fall.
When Moses negotiated with Pharaoh over the release of the Israelites from Egypt, Pharaoh offered to let the people go several times with some conditions:
(Exo 8:28 NKJV)  And Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me."

It’s like Satan saying, “Go ahead and be a Christian, just don’t get so serious about it, don’t go too far with this Christian stuff…”

(Exo 10:11 NKJV)  "Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the LORD, for that is what you desired." And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.

Moses had been asking to take their wives and children, but Pharaoh only would allow the men.  It’s like Satan saying, “It’s okay for you to follow, just don’t try and push it on your family…”

(Exo 10:24 NKJV)  Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, "Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you."

Again, Satan would say to us, “Go ahead and follow Jesus, just keep all that money and resources for yourself.

It’s all about compromise.  How far can you get from Jesus and still be considered “following” Him?  Is Jesus someone you admire from afar, or is He someone you get as close to as possible?

Stuart Briscoe writes, “I was in Edinburgh about a year ago speaking at Charlotte Chapel, and a delightful young lady gave her testimony. She had come back from Kabul, Afghanistan, where she was a missionary nurse. She said how she was really enjoying the work she was doing there, and then she’d met a young man and fallen in love. He’d asked her to marry him, but she had said, “I made a commitment to my church back home to serve on the mission field. If I were to marry you, that might change everything. So before I can give you an answer, I need to talk with the leaders of the church.” And so that was why she was home. She’d flown home all the way from Afghanistan to talk to the leaders of the church.

“As I was looking at the congregation, I noticed a fellow sitting in the front row who had the weirdest look on his face. So when she was through and sat down next to me, I said, “Who is that fellow? Do you know him?” She said, “That’s the young man.” I said, “I thought he was in Kabul.” She said, “He was. He heard I was flying back to Scotland to talk to the leaders of the church, so he said he wanted to talk to them as well. So he jumped on the next plane.””

True lovers don’t stay as far apart as they can.  They stay as close as they can.  If you really love Jesus, don’t follow from afar.

:59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,

It’s amazing that they don’t seem bothered by the fact that they’re not basing their prosecution on the truth, but upon lies.

It’s a little like this North Carolina prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse rape case, Mike Nifong.  It seems as if he was unwilling to pay attention to the facts that his own investigators had uncovered and was only intent on prosecuting these young men, even though the evidence proved them innocent.

:60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward

:61 and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'"

Jesus did say this early on in His ministry, but He was talking about the Temple of His body, not Herod’s temple.

(John 2:19-21 NKJV)  Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." {20} Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" {21} But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

:62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?"

:63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!"

kept silentsiopao – to be silent, hold one’s peace.  This word doesn’t mean that Jesus couldn’t talk, the word is used to describe Jesus hushing the howling winds and waves (Mark 4:29), it’s used to describe how quiet the disciples were after Jesus caught them arguing over who was the greatest (Mark 9:34), it’s used of the crowd trying to get the blind man to be quiet (Mark 10:48) when he kept yelling at Jesus to heal him.

Jesus kept silent because He chose to be silent.  He could have spoken up, but He chose not to.

:64 Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Jesus is referring to one of Daniel’s visions where Daniel caught a glimpse of the Second Coming of the Messiah:

(Dan 7:13-14 NKJV)  "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. {14} Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

Jesus is laying direct claim to being the Messiah.

:65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!

The high priest considered it blasphemous for a person to claim they were the Messiah.  But what if He was???

:66 "What do you think?" They answered and said, "He is deserving of death."

:67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands,

:68 saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?"

What a horrendous scene – these tiny, puny little human beings mistreating the very God who made them.  We can learn from how Jesus handled the situation.


The example of righteous suffering

When I suffer, I like to let the whole world know that I’m suffering.
I don’t think it’s right to suffer quietly.  I think you should suffer as loud as you can – you get much more sympathy that way!
Jesus was giving an example for us to follow when it comes to suffering unjustly:
(1 Pet 2:18-25 NKJV)  Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. {19} For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. {20} For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. {21} For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
follow His steps

When I was a kid and the family went out to eat, I used to love getting the kids’ menu.  My favorite thing was working the “connect-the-dots” picture.  Even if you couldn’t draw a circle on your own, you could become a master artist with those pictures.  Remember how you would see a few lines, but mostly dots and numbers?  Someone had already figured out the picture for you and all you had to do was run your pencil from one dot to the next until you had drawn the picture that was intended.

Jesus has left us some footsteps to follow.  He’s already put the dots and numbers on the paper and all we have to do is connect them.  We can become a great artist by simply following His steps.

{22} "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; {23} who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; {24} who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. {25} For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
These are the “dots” Jesus plotted out for us to connect.

When He went through unjust suffering:

He didn’t sin.

He didn’t deceive

He didn’t return the insults (reviling)

He didn’t threaten

He committed Himself to God.

His suffering produced a benefit – it brought healing to others

Learning to handle difficulty and suffering correctly can produce wonderful results both in our own lives as well as in the lives of others.

John Naber, Four-Time Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming writes,

One of my favorite sayings I got off a soda bottle: NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN.  To me that means you’ll get out of life about what you’re willing to put in.  All champions have made great sacrifices to win their victories.  So when someone talks to me about their goals and dreams, I ask them one question: “What are you willing to do about it?”


Amy Carmichael in expressing her desire to become like the Lord Jesus said this:  “If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.  If I have not the patience of my Savior with souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.  If I avoid being ‘ploughed under’ with all that such ploughing entails of rough handling, isolation, uncongenial situations, strange test, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.”