The Faithless Faithfuls – Matthew 26

At the mount of Olives, Jesus gathered His disciples and foretold how all of them including Peter would abandon Him in the coming hours that were leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross. He gave them instructions to go on into Galilee where He would meet them after His resurrection. Not sure if the disciples understood what Jesus meant as all of them were directionless and needed to be reminded of these instructions by the women who went up to the empty tomb that Easter morn. Peter was adamant that no matter what happened, he would never turn his back to Jesus.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

Matthew 26:34

Gethsemane

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples to stay alert and continue to remain in prayer. His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death and He wanted His disciples to be with Him and waiting for the events to unfold. Even after saying all this, when Jesus returned after praying, He found that the disciples had fallen asleep.

“Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:40-41

Jesus wanted the disciples to be ready for what was coming. He had defended them on several occasions on their lack of prayer life, citing that He was still with them. Now that He was going to depart from their midst, He wanted them to start depending on prayer to communicate with Him. The disciples depended on Jesus for everything but now they would need to ask God everything directly. Saying this, He went again to pray to His father.

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Matthew 26:42

Jesus was willing to lay His life that day. All the sins of the world would be put on Him as He was our sacrifice for sin. What was entailed would be too hard for us to even imagine, let alone comprehend. Jesus was not simply going to be crucified but the sin that would cause His sweat-drops to appear like blood would cause a separation between Him and the Father. We all fear death and give no heed to being separated from God. But Jesus had descended from Heaven and for that reason was closer to the Father than anyone as He depended on God for everything. He himself said on several occasions that He did not depend on man for anything not even his testimonies as He had the Father by His side. But now imagine being disconnected from the one person you depend on completely. That would be the part that Jesus would be worried about, not being able to have communion with God. He still chose to obey the Father’s will of giving His own life to die for the sake of those who quite rightly deserve death. As He came back after praying He again found His disciples sleeping and had to wake them up again saying that the hour had come. While He was still speaking to the disciples, along came Judas guiding those sent by the chief priests and the Jewish elders to the exact location of Jesus and His disciples.

The Pharisees Capture Jesus

This is why the elders needed an inside man, to stage such a planned arrest away from eyes of the thousands who had flocked to Jerusalem for the festival who would have surely caused a ruckus if their miracle-giver was taken away from them. Also the fear of arresting the wrong person as the clothing style and accents of the Galileans being similar would have made the chief priests practice extreme caution and not have Jesus slip through their fingers.

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.

Matthew 26:57

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin brought false evidences before the court to try and convict Jesus of leading an insurrection, a crime that would be reciprocated by the Roman government through death penalty. But alas they could not make their witnesses corroborate each other’s stories. Jesus remained silent to all their accusations but responded only to one of their question.

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Matthew 26:63-64

Not quite the charge that the Jewish leaders wanted to throw on Jesus but that will have to do. By claiming to be the Son of God, Jesus was supposedly committing blasphemy by calling God His Father. Although God called Himself the father of Israel several times, those were details that they were willing to overlook to get rid of the problem at hand. Also, since they were charging Jesus of violating a Jewish law and not breaking any Roman government rules, it would be hard for them to convince the Roman leaders to execute Jesus but the chief priests were going to wield every bit of influence that they had on them in trying to convince them to kill Jesus.

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him

Matthew 26:67

The Denier

Peter had followed Jesus and His captors from afar and had made his way to the courtyard of the Sanhedrin. People had gathered there in the wee hours of the morning and Peter was recognized thrice. Perhaps out of fear for his life, Peter denied knowing Jesus, kicking and screaming and even cursing when he was confronted by the onlookers. Just the previous day Peter would have been proudly walking side by side with Jesus and was happy to get the attention of the people that came to Jesus, but today when Jesus had seemingly lost all His power, he also denied having anything to do with Jesus.

We are certainly all-in when we can see Jesus working miracles in our lives. But our faith gets shaken when we cannot see His works and start doubting even the existence of God. If our faith is based on the works of God in our lives then we will not go far with Him but like a drug addict keep coming back to Him only when we run out of money/blessings. Peter was still immature and did not understand what his response should be when Jesus foretold his denial. When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered those words and wept bitterly. In our lives also Jesus creates instances to remind us of our promises that we had made to Him. But while we seldom break our promises made to our fellow beings we often go back on our word that we had promised our Savior. The One who should mean everything to us we treat indifferently. Let us examine ourselves to see why we are following Jesus. Are we like the disciples who will jump ships, as and when it suits us or are we in it with Jesus till the very end?

Discussion Questions

  • Why is Jesus telling the disciples about how they would abandon Him? Does He want them to not run and die with Him on the cross?
  • Why did Jesus want His disciples to remain awake in Prayer?
  • Why does Jesus want the cup of suffering to be taken away from Him?
  • Why did the Jewish need an inside man to capture Jesus?
  • Why did Peter follow Jesus and risk his life only to deny knowing Him?

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