of the cheeriest facts of Christianity is the very sour picture it paints of
human beings. All of us, with the exception of our Lord, are sinners. We just
can’t help it. But with Christ we can do something about it.
we will read a rather lengthy passage – in which Luke gives us a very good
sense of the confusion and haste at the end of the Last Supper. We shall then
examine the weakness of man in three examples:
disciples as a whole
"But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on
the table. "For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been
determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" And they
began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going
to do this thing. And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be
greatest. And He said to them, "The kings of the
Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called
'Benefactors.' "But it is not this way with
you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest,
and the leader like the servant. "For who
is greater, the one who reclines at the
table or the one who serves? Is it not the
one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. "You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant
you that you may eat and drink at My table in My
kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you
like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your
faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your
brothers." But he said to Him, "Lord, with You I am ready to
go both to prison and to death!" And He said, "I
say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three
times that you know Me." And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals,
you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing." And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along,
likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. "For I tell you that this which is written must be
fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS'; for that which
refers to Me has its fulfillment." They said, "Lord, look, here
are two swords." And He said to them, "It is
enough." And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said
to them, "Pray that you may not enter into
temptation." And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and
He knelt down and began to pray, saying,
"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from
Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Now an angel from heaven
appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very
fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the
ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them
sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, "Why are
you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation."
While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came,
and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he
approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, "Judas,
are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" When those who were
around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, shall we strike
with the sword?" And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and
cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, "Stop!
No more of this." And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus
said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come
against Him, "Have you come out with swords and
clubs as you would against a robber? "While
I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour
and the power of darkness are yours." Having arrested Him, they led
Him away and brought Him to the house of
the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. After they had kindled
a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was
sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight
and looking intently at him, said, "This man was with Him too." But
he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do
not know Him." A little later, another saw him and said, "You are one of them too!" But Peter said, "Man,
I am not!" After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, "Certainly this man
also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too." But Peter said, "Man, I
do not know what you are talking about." Immediately, while he was still
speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter
remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before
a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went
out and wept bitterly.
(Luk 22:21-62 NASB)
of the most curious things about this passage is Christ’s direction that the
disciples were going to need the very things he had forbidden them on their
missionary training. It seems a contradiction; but consider: he is preparing
them for the short time he will not be with them. And what should we do when
Christ is not with us?
the money. Take along the bag used by the heathens to beg money for their
gods. (Or, today, start the telethon).
your weapons, for the power of Christ will not assist you, and there is no
other option than the power of this world.
three days this is what the disciples would have; it is no surprise they
locked themselves away in hiding.
says they were “sleeping from sorrow.” Mark tells us that Jesus had to wake them
three times. How often we excuse ourselves by saying, “I’m too tired to pray
tonight.” Pray, then, in company with each other, so that one can always wake
we are to “get up” to pray. Prayer should not be the item that lulls us to sleep,
but that which awakens us to duty.
is a deep difference between the world’s measurement of the greatest and the
measurement of God.
the world’s measurement, we honor the biggest check. If you want to be a
benefactor, write a big check. (Remind me to tell you about the school
which wants to build a new chapel…. Naming opportunities, they call it).
do we do it this way? Because the end justifies the means. You need to
be a benefactor, we need a stained glass window.
plaque on the wall tells us all: we are willing to pay handsomely to be
praised and honored. It goes along with being accepted in the upper
circles of society.
calls his church to a different method.
like those over us to be “public servants” – think of the fireman, for
example. We accord them authority over us not on their monetary
contributions but by their actual benefit to us.
much more, then, should the benefactors of the church be those who serve?
Christ set this example; we should follow it.
us begin by stating the obvious: Peter has a big mouth. That’s one reason
he’s the leader of the disciples. The boy can talk.
as he shoots his mouth off, do you see how little he really knows of
himself? We think such people to be “open” or “transparent”; sometimes
they are just ignorant of themselves, not knowing any better.
might suspect Peter of a lack of courage. How so? Have you ever heard a
teenage boy tell you what he’s going to do – as a method of bucking up his
enough, everyone looks to the leader to have the answer to any problem.
There’s a lot of pressure on Peter to “say the right words.” He did.
this, Christ tells Peter that his story will not end in failure; he will lead
again. Jesus works even in broken hearts and lives.
goes along with the territory: the man is a violent man. He knows he is a
sinner, but he lets his anger rule over him. Sound familiar? Yet the
Christian knows better than this – if only for this example.
is something else behind it. If perfect love casts out fear, we also believe
that perfect fear casts out cowardice. Peter is a man who does not want to
have appearances taken the wrong way.
also a man who likes to be in control – and this night the situation is
anything but in his control.
never fails: the guy we can count on to be handy with the sword has no defense
against social intimidation. Even after his promise to die for him, Peter
he fails in such a little thing! How often we think we will do well in the big
things but fail in the little. Still true: faithful in little, faithful in
much. But we say that little things don’t really matter. Really? A little
bullet can kill you.
does it here? It is our desire to be “in.” Suddenly Peter is alone, and his
Lord cannot help him; he wants to be part of the group around the fire – not
the one standing in the cold.
stands as a mystery to most of us. Even the writers of the Gospels could not
explain it except to say “Satan entered into him.” The matter is one of the
heart. Some have suggested that Judas was a little short in the moneybag;
this might have looked like a good way to balance accounts. If so, the amount
proposed is interesting. It is exactly the price the law of Moses set upon a
servant who dies.
style of evil
you noticed? There is a certain style to this evil betrayal, and it has not
left us yet. You see it now in the sneering sophistication of those who are
pious on Sunday after being “sophisticated” on Saturday night. There is a
reason that the snake is the symbol of Satan.
for Christ’s statement that it would have been better for Judas not to have
been born, I can but echo Linus van Pelt (of Peanuts) when his sister Lucy
announced that she wished that he had never been born: “The theological
implications are staggering!” And I shall leave it at that.
are not entirely bereft of example in righteousness. All are sinners – except
the Holy One. See how he handles this night of terror and pain:
encourages the disciples. He paints the picture of their future reward as
judges of the twelve tribes. He tells them that they will feast at the
King’s table forever. He brings to their mind how God provided for them
during their missionary journey, with the obvious conclusion being that
God will continue to supply his church.
leads them in prayer. He prays for Peter, personally. Yes, Peter has a
problem, but Christ goes to the Father on his behalf. He commands his
disciples to pray – to avoid temptation. He sets the example in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is a noble example; even the perfect man knows fear and the wish
to avoid suffering. He also knows God’s answer.
is not afraid to show the agony of his soul on this night of nights. He is
afraid and he does not want to do this. He asks to be relieved of the
answer is “no.” It is the measure of the perfect man in touch with God the
Father, asking desperately for relieve – only to end his prayer with “not my
will, but yours be done.” It is the finest example.