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.
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written “‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[a 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. Matthew 26:31-35.
1. Judas. A study in Utter Rejection of Jesus. Imagine if you can, the disciples traveling with Jesus for 3 years, with various responsibilities. Judas the treasurer of the group, trusted with the financial resources of the disciples. Yet, it was Judas who humanly fulfilled the prophecy ‘I will strike the shepherd’. And his betrayal is revealed publically to the disciples but in acts of mercy, he is not cast out of the group nor the last hours of association with Jesus. Amazing.
2. Peter. A Study in Failure and Recovery. The second revelation is predicting again Peter’s denial of Jesus. Now one of the leaders of the disciples – the one on whom was the Rock, and the Church would be built – would deny he knew Jesus not once, but three times. What was left for the disciples to rely on?
3 .All the Disciples – Will Fall Away. Talk about a failed enterprise. The three years of Jesus teaching and ministering to the crowds was seemingly having no effect nor lasting work. The leader shortly to die. The disciples ALL scattering. The shepherd is killed, the sheep are ALL scattered. While the disciples will later form the foundation of the church, for now, the focus is only and ultimately back to Jesus and the cross.
This passage speaks about commitment and priorities. It illustrates that even during hard times Jesus asks that we follow Him. We may not understand fully, but we can trust him who has gone before us. No better harbor of safety. Blessings to you this week. Be encouraged that we are better than the failures that mark out life as we know it.
17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.. Hebrews 2:17-18.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6.