We continue in our Holy Week series as we explore the road to the cross.
Over the past few days, the journey to cross has gone through Jerusalem to Bethany and spent time in an upper room celebrating the Passover with His disciples while giving birth to our modern-day communion practices.
Today, our journey takes us to the Mount of Olives and the High Priest courtyard, where Peter did not have one of his finest moments.
Let’s quickly recap, Jesus and the disciples have just concluded their Passover meal and found out one of them was going to betray Jesus. After the meal, they headed to the Mount of Olives, and this is where we pick up the action.
While on the way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus drops another truth bomb on the disciples by telling them they will all desert Him.
Here we go again; the disciples are walking along enjoy great conversation when Jesus says, you guys are all going to bail on me.
What? Huh?! Confused looks all around.
Then Peter speaks up, and says in Matthew 26:33,
“Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”
Jesus responds with another prediction – Peter, you won’t only desert me; you are going to deny me three times before the rooster crows.
Here are Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:34,
“I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Peter is hurt and can’t believe what Jesus has said. He retorts that I will never leave and I would die before I would deny You, Lord.
Not only did Peter not believe it, but the other disciples said the same – they would never leave Jesus.
Time will tell.
Not My Will, But Your Will Prayer
When Jesus and the disciples arrived at the Mount of Olives, Jesus went away to pray and commune with His Father.
Before Jesus left to go pray, He asked his disciples to pray that they would not fall into temptation (Luke 22:39).
Jesus asked if the Father could remove this cup from Him, but said it is not my will that guides, but Yours be done.
In the Church world, we often hear that we should ask for God’s will to be done in our lives, not ours. This is where the phrase originated.
We probably are not facing death on a cross, but our troubles are our cross to bear, and it can feel mighty overwhelming at the time.
Often, we want God’s plan to align with our plan instead of the other way around.
It was not God’s will for the cup of sacrificial death to be removed from Jesus because that was His sole purpose for coming to earth as a baby. The Lord put this plan in motion as soon as Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden at the beginning of time.
After Jesus and His Father had finished communing, an angel came and strengthened Jesus. The Heavenly Father's compassion to send an angel to strengthen His Son shows how much He loved Him and us.
We have often been strengthened and comforted after our failures by the Holy Spirit or even by angels that we probably did not recognize. The Heavenly Father sees us, our struggles, our pain, and provides comfort and strength when we need it most.
Once Jesus had been restored, He went back to find the disciples taking a nap. He asked them to pray so they would not fall into temptation because He knew what was coming.
Before the words were barely out of Jesus’ mouth, here comes the arrest group led by Judas.
I wonder if the disciples were shocked or amazed that it was Judas who had betrayed Jesus?
Judas brought with him soldiers and temple guards – most scholars believe it was somewhere between 300 and 600.
What action did Judas use to signal the man whom they were to arrest? A kiss.
Judas used a sign of affection to seal Jesus’ fate, and with a kiss, the disciples drew their swords and readied themselves for war. Luke shares that one of the disciples sliced off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Jesus touched the ear of the slave and healed him. (Luke 22:50-51)
Even at His arrest, He still shows His miraculous healing power—Jesus questions why they didn’t arrest Him in more public venues like the Temple.
And as they were getting ready to leave, Matthew records in 26:56,
“At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.”
Remember Jesus said they would all desert him? Yep — they were booking it out of there, and some even lost their garments which would make for an interesting sight.
As they led Jesus to the High Priest’s home, Peter followed at some distance and arrived just after a fire had begun to keep them warm.
A servant girl noticed him around the fire and began to tattle tell on Peter. She kept at him, saying; he was one of the disciples.
He said, “ I don’t even know him!” (Luke 22:57). That’s denial number one.
Then someone else said, “You must be one of them!” He responded, “I’m not.” (Luke 22:58) That’s denial number two.
About an hour after the first two denials, thinking he was probably safe, someone else said, “This must be one of them because he is a Galilean, too.” Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.” (Matthew 26:74-75)
The pain of what he had done overcame Peter. The good news is that was not the end of Peter’s story, and he would go on to be a key figure in the development of the church in the book of Acts.
We all do things that leave us overwhelmed by our guilt before the Lord; it’s how we respond and how long it takes us to correct our mistakes.
The journey to the cross was not easy for Jesus, but He did for you and me so that we could live with Him in eternity.
It’s never too late to turn to Jesus.
Lord, thank you for dying on the cross for our sins so that we can live with you in eternity. Please forgive us for those sins we are aware of and unaware of. Thank you for showing us your struggles, and we ask You to help us each day as we navigate this world. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy. Amen!
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