We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week, Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him, and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week. Now the cross is in full view and we see Jesus in preparation for his death.
55 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. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 25:55-56.
1. Betrayal and Raising the Sword. Everything nailed down seems to be coming loose in these final hours. Judas comes, and with a kiss, betrays Jesus. Friend, do what you came for. Amazing the grace of Jesus to this betrayal, all the while in extreme distress about the prospect of the cross. Now Peter raises a sword to defend Jesus. And Jesus rebukes Peter and the disciples for thinking the power in this world is a measure of heaven.
2. 72,000 Angelic Warriors! By contrast, Jesus assures his followers that His heavenly Father could send legions – thousands, an innumerable number – of angelic warriors to assist him if needed. But the cross was necessary for God’s redemptive purpose through Jesus to be completed, for the Scriptures of the OT as to the Lamb of God, to be fulfilled.
“Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the Lord Almighty.“Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. 8 In the whole land,” declares the Lord,
“two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it.9 This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” Zech 13:7-9.
3. Yet Fear and Desertion was the Result. Despite all the teaching of Jesus about the suffering and persecutions which were to come, all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt 5:10-12.
At this hour the success of God through Jesus seems in shambles. Fear, failure, denial, desertion. But from a heavenly observation, everything in time and eternity is posed for redemptive success in the next hours – the death of Jesus, the taking of the sins of the world on Him, the culmination of the salvation promises, the defeat of Satan, the proclamation in hell that death is defeated, and the verification through the resurrection. Treat this week like your Easter week with thanks to God for His great work on our behalf. Next, the sham trial, all to fulfill the purposes of God.