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Take a Good Look at Yourself: Preparing for the Passover

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Take a Good Look at Yourself

Preparing for the Passover

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Take a Good Look at Yourself: Preparing for the Passover

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Will you face the world with knowledge, courage, confidence, humility, preparation, and prayer? Will you let yourself be restored to Him to serve Him better?

Sermon Notes

Matthew 26:31-35 Matthew 26:31-35 [31] Then said Jesus to them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. [32] But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. [33] Peter answered and said to him, Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended. [34] Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice. [35] Peter said to him, Though I should die with you, yet will I not deny you. Likewise also said all the disciples.
American King James Version×

Setting the Scene:

Jesus had just inaugurated the New Covenant with the 12 and gave them the new signs of the Passover (the bread and the wine) as a remembrance of His blood which would be shed and His body which would be broken. The Old Covenant would be finished out within the next 24 hours with the execution of Jesus in Jerusalem.

After the Passover meal, Jesus promised them gifts of peace, joy, contentment, and comfort. He told them about the coming of the Holy Spirit, the very power of God, that would come to each of them to strengthen and guide them along with the word of scripture. He warned them of persecution but promised their ultimate deliverance from it. He prayed with them for their unity, and for the unity of those who would come later. (John 14-17)

Then they sang the traditional hymn and went out from the upper room. It’s here that we picked up the verses we read earlier. Perhaps this is what they discussed walking down the festive streets of Jerusalem, out the gate, across the Kidron brook and then up the Mount of Olives to a private (probably walled) garden called Gethsemane or (The Olive Press).

Jesus’ conversation during the Passover meal had been mostly positive, encouraging filled with promise… now, He began to discuss some of the harsh realities of the dark hours that were just ahead. Let’s use this section of scripture to create an outline for personal self-examination prior to the Passover this year!

1. A Lesson About Weakness & Strength

Why talk about weakness and failure at such an hour? You would think an exhortation to bravery and courage would be more in order…

To go forth and carry the message of truth into the world they would have to be strong. But to be strong, it first helps to realize where you are weak so you can work on building strength. USE EXAMPLE OF BODYBUILDING.

Verse 35 – they all thought they had sufficient love of God, commitment to His way, self-control and courage to face the accuser… they thought they were strong. BUT when a group of 600 heavily armed men trudged up the hill to arrest Jesus they all ran away. Jesus was right, He knew. (verse 55-56)

So, examine yourself. Take a good look at yourself… where are you weak? What areas do you need to strengthen?

2. A Lesson About Ignorance Vs. Knowledge

The disciples didn’t realize their weakness compared to the power of the adversary, Satan. They did not know he had entered into Judas, that Judas was leading the soldiers and priests to them in the garden, they did not know how the Priests would act… AND they did not know how to interpret the prophecies of the Messiah in Zechariah 13:9 Zechariah 13:9And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
American King James Version×
… without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, by contrast, knew what was going on behind the scenes and most important He knew the prophecies and how they would apply. He knew He was walking through the steps of the Father’s will and appointed plan.

Zechariah 13:7 Zechariah 13:7Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, said the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand on the little ones.
American King James Version×
prophecy was not obvious to the casual observer. It was difficult to interpret. But being filled with the Holy Spirit Jesus knew that the verses were not talking about the untrustworthy shepherds of Judah but rather were about the shepherd sent by God, the mighty man who is at my side (my associate)… in hindsight, obviously the Word, the Messiah, Jesus. He would be put to death, they would all scatter.

Because Jesus knew scripture He had the bigger picture in mind. He had the prophetic picture in mind. He knew that the power of God would raise Him from the grave, from death to life, to lead His people. So, confident in God’s plan and power of life that He was already making an appointment to meet them later after He was resurrected.

These things about to happen were not initiated by Judas, the priests, Pilate, or Herod… they were the next steps in the plan of God for that salvation of mankind.

So, examine yourself. Take a good look. Do you know the plan of God? Can you explain it to others? Do you meditate on it? Do you know it well enough to draw strength from it in troubled times?

3. A Lesson About Fear Vs Courage

The words “be offended” or “fall away” [in verse 31] is from the Greek word skandalizo. It means “to entrap” or “to trip up”. What would entrap them? What entraps you or me? Isn’t it the fear of what others might think of us, and what others might do to us?

I think they were expecting Jesus to rise up in power when the soldiers came to arrest Him. BUT, when He would not raise a hand to defend himself… would He… could He defend them?

Many have stood firm in times of battle or danger, but going down for a noble cause is one thing… going down for a cause where you will be considered a traitor, a lowlife, a nutcase, a heretic… by your own people, everyone who knows you… that’s harder to swallow.

Meanwhile, Jesus headed steadfastly forward with great courage to His execution, facing death, pain, temptation so that others might receive salvation. Knowing He was fulfilling the plan of God and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt the Father could and would raise Him up.

Hebrews 2: 13-15 The disciples were afraid of death. They had no power to overcome death of themselves. Whereas, Jesus in human form and filled with the Holy Spirit… sets the example for us, not trusting in his own power… but in the power of the Father.

So, examine yourself. Are you holding back because you are worried what others might think of you… because you are trying to fit in?

4. A Lesson About Pride vs. Humility

We already read where Peter boldly contradicted Jesus and proudly claimed to be the most reliable disciple of all  “all others may be skandalizo… but I never will”.

Where did Peter get such false confidence? He seems to have put a lot of stock in his own courage, knowledge and commitment. Let’s see how Jesus approached the exact same circumstance?

Luke 22:31-33 Luke 22:31-33 [31] And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: [32] But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers. [33] And he said to him, Lord, I am ready to go with you, both into prison, and to death.
American King James Version×
Jesus understood what was at stake and turned to the one who had the power to help Peter… God the Father

Jesus knew they would all abandon and deny Him. Yet he was still willing to sacrifice himself for them in all their weakness, ignorance, and false pride. He put their well being and need for salvation above Himself. He submitted Himself to insult and indignity toward His holiness, and His place in the family of God. He was willing to drink the full cup of God’s terrible wrath against sin… so they could have life in the family of God.

So, examine yourself. Where are you showing pride? [chase it down the rabbit hole]

5. A lesson About Preparation & Prayer

Matthew 26:36-46 Matthew 26:36-46 [36] Then comes Jesus with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, Sit you here, while I go and pray yonder. [37] And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. [38] Then said he to them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even to death: tarry you here, and watch with me. [39] And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will. [40] And he comes to the disciples, and finds them asleep, and said to Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour? [41] Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. [42] He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done. [43] And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. [44] And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. [45] Then comes he to his disciples, and said to them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. [46] Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that does betray me.
American King James Version×
even in the middle of personal agony and struggle with temptation Jesus was their teacher. He was giving them a living breathing lesson in how to prepare and deal with temptation and trial.

This Garden area was a private place away from the bustle of Jerusalem at Passover. It was probably walled with a gate. Jesus had some of them stay by the gate to protect the seclusion… and based on His later comments expecting they too would pray. And He took Peter, John and James along with Him into the garden area to provide an object lesson in spiritual vigilance in trying times.

BUT… the disciples did not pray. Perhaps they thought… they had given their word, they had accepted the signs of the New Covenant. What could possibly go wrong? It was past midnight, they had eaten a big meal, drank wine, walked all the way from town up the mountain… they were tired. So, they slept.

Jesus did not need their help. He was there to connect with the Father, the one who had the power to help. Jesus did not ask the disciples to pray for Him… verse 41. He told them to pray for themselves!

Jesus was there in the weakness of flesh too. He knew pain, sorrow, temptation, grief, tears. But He had the understanding to know that strength and power to do great things would come from the Father.

At the beginning of His ministry He faced three waves of temptation from Satan with fasting and the word of scripture. Here He meets three waves of terrible temptation and turmoil with prayer… is this that opportune moment? Luke 4:13 Luke 4:13And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
American King James Version×

You’re the Son of God, why put yourself through this ordeal, this affront to your dignity and majesty? For what… for them?

Jesus was filled with incredible sorrow and deeply troubled. He could see it all before Him… betrayed by Judas, abandoned and denied by His closest friends, rejected by Israel, to suffer the injustice of men, to be mocked, to bear the full cup of God wrath toward sin… and to be abandoned by the Father.

So intense that Jesus appears to have suffered from Hematidrosis! According to WiKiPedia:

Symptoms: Blood usually ooze from the forehead, other skin surfaces, nails, and umbilicus (caused by a bursting of the subcutaneous capillaries), note: mixes with sweat and thus appears more as a blood tinged secretion

Etiology (cause): Very rare but may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death

6. A Lesson About Submission to God’s Will

Jesus personal example of prayer here is less about changing God’s design and will. Its more about getting ourselves in line with His will for us… verse 39, 42. To realize, accept and believe that His will for us may not be what we want… but it is the best way to get us from where we are to where He wants us to be. To fulfill His plan to bring us into His family filled with glory.

So, examine yourself. Are you submitting to the will of God or resisting?

While Jesus was preparing Himself the disciples were… sleeping. Present and ground zero of the most important even in cosmic history and they couldn’t keep their eyes open. AND when Jesus said “rise, let us go forth to meet what’s coming” they were not prepared.

Matthew 26:47-56 Matthew 26:47-56 [47] And while he yet spoke, see, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. [48] Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. [49] And immediately he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. [50] And Jesus said to him, Friend, why are you come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him. [51] And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. [52] Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. [53] Think you that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? [54] But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? [55] In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are you come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and you laid no hold on me. [56] But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
American King James Version×
(mention Peter’s denials)

7. A Lesson About Restoration

The disciples were not worthy of Jesus love. They let Him down in his hour of need. They simply did not yet have the spiritual resources that would come to them on Pentecost. The next step in God’s plan.

He met them later in Galilee as promised [John 21] and re-commissioned them to the task He had called them to in the beginning. He called to them on the lake where they were fishing. Once again He miraculously filled their nets with fish and called them to be fishers of men just like He had 3 years earlier. He personally restored Peter three times commanding him feed and take care of the church… once for each of the three denials.

Did The Disciples Change?

Acts 5:41-42 Acts 5:41-42 [41] And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. [42] And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
now fully restored and filled with the Holy Spirit they were prepared to face all things.

Identifying yourself with Jesus means risking the disapproval, the distain, the mockery of others. To be “skandalizo” “tripped up” or “trapped by fear” of what others might think, what they might do to us, what they might not do for us. Is a powerful source of temptation we must face.

So, examine yourself. Will you face the world with knowledge, courage, confidence, humility, preparation and prayer? Will you let yourself be restored by Him to serve Him better?

Or would you rather sleep…

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