"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Tuesday, November 21, 2017


By James Fire

We left off in the first half of MATTHEW 26 where the LORD dropped a bomb-shell on His beloved – basically declaring that He would soon die by the most excruciating means possible: crucifixion (MATT 20:19).
Peter made an oath, that though all the others might be offended in Him, He would never be (and the other disciples said likewise). The LORD prophesied that he would deny Him not just once or even twice, but three times!
The LORD lets it rest and leads His followers to Gethsemane – and we witness all of that which transpires; everything from the unlawful trials He went through, the Satanic influences that inflamed the Sanhedrin as well as the society in Jerusalem – this is where we pick up on PART 2:

MATTHEW 26:36-39
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye 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 saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye 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 thou wilt.

Much of what has already happened, as well as much that is yet to transpire in this narrative has been examined in a separate TTUF article entitled: STUDIES in the LIFE of PETER – A CALL to ALL SERVANTS of the LORD. You may read this article here

Gethsemane means “olive press” – it was an olive tree garden where the fruit would be harvested, cured, pressed and its oil extracted. By type, oil is representative of the Holy Spirit (ISAIAH 61:1; ZECH 4:1-6; ACTS 10:38). And here at this garden, our LORD was pressed out of measure, and just as He sweat great drops of blood from the extreme spiritual and emotional pressure He was under, He was preparing for His ultimate crushing on the cross – where He would offer up His Spirit, which would later be available to all who would receive Him as LORD and Savior, never again to have the shekinah glory appear in the temple (until another age in the future; see MARK 15:37–38).

Here our High Priest is walking into ‘the Holiest of All’ figuratively in the Garden: Note that all the disciples follow Him into the Garden, the ‘outer court’ as it were; He then brings Peter, James and John with Him a little further on – into ‘the holy place’ you could say. Lastly, the High Priest of our Faith then goes in, alone, into the Holy of Holies:
As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
We learn by the prayer that the LORD offered up to the Father – while distraught beyond imagining by what He was about to face, the LORD in His humanity asked to be spared what was coming “. . . let this cup pass from Me. . .” but regardless of His personal request, He surrendered His will to that of the Father “nevertheless not as I will but as You [Father] will”.

Somehow there are those who believe that praying and asking God to answer according to His will, and not ‘claiming by faith’ that which we would desire, is a lack of faith!? Yet here we have our LORD Himself praying this very prayer!
Faith is a form of trust, implicit trust (The Hebrew word for “faith” is translated in English as “trust” – examine the Old Testament and see the verses that speak of trusting God) in God and in His Word – and who can we trust more than the LORD Himself to answer our prayers in accordance to His knowledge, wisdom, grace, tender mercies and power?

A powerful witness of faith was when, while losing everything in life, Job declared this mind-boggling expression of trust:
JOB 1:21; 13:14-15
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. 16 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.
MATTHEW 26:40-45
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?41 Watch and pray, that ye 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, thy 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 cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto 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.

It is often during the most crucial times in our lives, when vigilance is imperative, prayer is paramount and watchfulness is wanted, that the enemy will enter in with subtlety and lull us to spiritual slumber, unaware of our impending danger and unprepared for the battle of temptation ahead.

The weakness of the flesh impedes the willingness of the spirit; Paul remarks on this conundrum himself in ROM 7:18. The LORD prays no less than three times to have “this cup” removed, much as Paul asked three times to have the thorn that plagued him removed (2 COR 12:7-10). 
Though the cup that the LORD spoke of, was the bearing of sin of the entire human race, and incurring the full measure of wrathful judgment from the Father, and actual separation from the Father, while He the Son, bore our sins (ROM 8:3; 2 COR 5:21; MATT 27:46); whereas with Paul, the thorn was merely the instrument to prevent Paul from becoming prideful due to the enormity of revelation he was given by the LORD; there was the secondary application for the apostle, that while in his weakened state, he would rely more certainly on the grace that God provided.

There comes a time when watching and praying are ended, and we then enter that time for which we have (hopefully!) interceded, and once entered into, any opportunity for prayer is past. Such is the case here when our LORD tells His disciples to “sleep on now and take your rest” while they could, because the time of the enemy was at hand.

MATTHEW 26:46-50
46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. 47 And while he yet spake, lo, 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 forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.

This is among the saddest commentary of all Scripture: that the one that the LORD calls “friend” is betraying Him. For all His love, His teaching, His example, His grace and compassion for others, He is rewarded with betrayal by Judas and denial by Peter. We have heard the term “Judas Kiss” and equate this man with the likes of Brutus and Caesar, Guy Fawkes, Benedict Arnold, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and others who betrayed their leaders, their nations, their families – and yet none of them come close to what Judas had done: he betrayed the Son of the Living God (MATT 16:16)!!

As mentioned in the previous study, Jesus here is not an unwilling victim, nor was He a martyr; This was the Word Incarnate that they were incarcerating: and He like “a lamb to the slaughter” went willingly to His death, but not before a demonstration of His power:
JOHN 18:3-6
Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. 
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
In the Greek, the word “he” in verse 6 is not there; the LORD Jesus simply said, “I AM” – and we remember the voice in the burning bush, declaring His Name “I AM that I AM hath sent thee” (EXOD 3:14). In that declaration, the LORD’s power was manifested, and the soldiers and all the men were knocked backwards.
In the next portion we will also see another venue of power that the LORD could have called upon to deliver Himself from His impending peril.

MATTHEW 26:51-54
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 unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou 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?

Here is a fisherman, entirely ignorant in the use of a sword, coming to the ‘defense’ of God Almighty in the flesh. If not for the tragedy of the situation, this might have been humorous. Peter is not named in this passage but is identified in the Gospel of John (JOHN 18:11). We cannot fault Peter for his desire to protect his LORD, and he showed at least a modicum of courage; they were all surrounded by armed, well-trained soldiers, and yet the target Peter selected was a servant boy!
The LORD had far better resources at His disposal than one reckless fisherman!

He told Peter to put up his sword, because if He really wanted to, He could have called upon 12 legions of angels. Let’s think about this for a moment...
A Roman legion (depending on what period of Roman history one is discussing) could contain anywhere from 1000 to 6000 officers and soldiers. Let’s take the average and say about 3000 in a legion. So, 12 legions of angels would be 36,000 in total.
In 2 KINGS 19:35 we read the following:
And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand (185,000): and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
Assuming that this angel was average in his prowess and abilities, in slaying 185,000 Assyrian solders let us further assume that each of the 12 legions of angels that the LORD was talking about were of equal prowess and abilities in slaying enemy targets. How many casualties are we talking about here?

6,660,000,000 (Six billion, six hundred and sixty million) casualties or about the world’s population in 2010! Back in the days of Jesus, the world’s population was more like 300 million! In other words, the LORD could have called upon enough angelic power to wipe out the entire planet’s population in a single day almost 19 times over!

Yet He declined such a defense and again, like a Lamb to the slaughter, He went with absolute meekness (power under control) with His executioners.
ISAIAH 53:6-8
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
The words “cut off” in vs. 5 referred to being executed for a capital crime, but His execution was “for the transgression of [God’s] people”!

The LORD’s greatest concern was not His self-defense, but in the fulfillment of prophetic Scripture, that which He was destined to fulfill for the glory of God the Father, just as He was intent on doing at the beginning of His ministry (MATT 3:15). Such verses as found in ISAIAH 53 (above) and PSALM 23 include prominent Messianic prophecies regarding the atonement that our LORD fulfilled and completed perfectly and exactly.

Are we intent on fulfilling God’s will for us, above and beyond every consideration concerning our own comforts, even safety? May we by the Spirit of grace have the same heart as our LORD, exhibiting the same love for our Father as He. Amen.

MATTHEW 26:55-56
55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye 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.

The Scripture found in ZECH 13:7 that the LORD was referring to is quoted previously in this chapter by our LORD Himself (MATT 26:31). When the disciples saw that their LORD was not going to defend Himself, they panicked and fled. No doubt, Judas himself, IF in fact it was his intention to force Jesus’ hand to deliver Himself out of the Roman’s hands, and then deliver Israel from the Roman government (which he, as a Zealot desired – liberation from the pagan government that oppressed them), was stunned that He did nothing to prevent this arrest.
It’s been suggested that this was why Judas later had hanged himself.

The LORD mentions prophetic Scripture being fulfilled twice in this chapter (vs. 54 and 56). He underscored this for us, so that we would understand that this was the plan all along; that despite the apparent cataclysmic tragedy of these last events, this was foreordained before the foundation of the world (REV 13:8b).

All too often in life we witness tragic events that affect us personally with devastating results, and we wonder “Where is God?” and ask, “Why did God let this happen?”. What seemed like a tragedy in the eyes of the disciples was a triumph to the LORD: the crucifixion of Christ! No doubt they asked such questions and believed this was the worst thing that could have happened – yet afterward they understood that it was the greatest thing that could have happened: our sins are paid for (JOHN 19:30)! Sin, death and the powers of hell have been given a Divine Death-blow (REV 1:17-19; COL 2:14-16; 1 COR 15:3-4, 20-22)! Eternal life has been provided (ROM 6:23b, PHIL 3:21) as well as heavenly citizenship (PHIL 3:20)!

Let us remember that the LORD is well able to take the very worst situation we could ever find ourselves in, and by His wisdom and miraculous power, transform that event into a blessing of unequaled proportions. Never let us give up hope in our darkest hour! Never let us quit while experiencing bewildering darkness, when we are only minutes away from the dawn!

MATTHEW 26:57-64
57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 63 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Having slept while the LORD prayed – not watching himself, nor praying (like the others who failed to do so), Peter followed “afar off”. Two crucial mistakes that we may learn from. Failure in prayer and following the LORD from afar: these are certain means for defeat when the devil comes calling! In the midst of the congregation of Caiaphas and the elders, Peter sat with the servants “to see the end”. Peter didn’t realize that this was hardly the end of Jesus Christ! But that the end of His time on Earth was approaching (about two more months’ time).

False witnesses were raised up to testify of Christ, and every allegation was at best a misunderstanding of what the LORD said (see vs. 61 above; JOHN 2:19-22), and at worst, a fiction. Likewise, we are to be sure that any accusation of wrong doing levied against us is false (MATT 5:11). But as far as wrongdoing is concerned – the very proceedings held by the Sanhedrin against the LORD was inundated with illegalities and wrongs! For a very careful and thorough treatment of this, and Peter’s denial, please watch this presentation by John MacArthur 

Jesus’ Unjust Trial, Peter’s Shameful Denial 

In vs. 63, the LAMB remains mute. When pressed by the High Priest, who calls upon the LORD to make an oath, invoking the name of God, to tell them whether He is the Messiah, the Son of God.
When the LORD admits this, He states that he (the High Priest) will see the Son of man “sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven”! This is of course the time of the Second Coming and the Judgment that will transpire once the Millennial Reign is done at the Great White Throne – see the following chart.

MATTHEW 26:65-68
65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

It was unlawful for the High Priest to rend his official priestly garments (LEV 21:10). He claims that the LORD spoke blasphemy, that is, spoke that which was a direct sin against God and His Holy Name; yet He claimed to be God’s Son – the only begotten of the Father, as it states in JOHN 1:14,18. He also on two specific occasions, rightly claimed to be the Messiah of Israel (JOHN 4:25-26; MATT 16:16-17). If one does a detailed study in the Old Testament on the Messiah, it will be revealed that He must in fact, be Deity. 
An excellent book on this subject is The Search for Messiah: Discovering the Identity of the True Messiah by Mark Eastman and Chuck Missler. (TTUF does not necessarily endorse everything as taught by Chuck Missler).

We have likewise done a TTUF series on this, based in part on the above book, JESUS is GOD 

MATTHEW 26:69-75
69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter, who swore to die for the LORD’s sake, is here denying that he knows Him, to a young slave girl, who asked the question casually – with no officiating power or immediate consequence. Yet he still denies the LORD.

There are times when we see Peter as courageous and fearless; namely his willingness to step out of a boat and walk across a storming sea that caused those fishermen turned disciples to fear for their lives.

He was the one who spoke out when the other disciples were quiet: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” and answered the LORD’s question, “Will you also go away?” with “LORD, to Whom shall we go? YOU have the words of eternal life!”

His strength and courage would seem to be his strong suit – and that was where the enemy saw his opportunity
It’s when we feel confident that we say to ourselves, “I got this, I don’t need the LORD to do this!”

Confidence in our flesh will always bring about spiritual defeat: it is when we recognize our weakness that we cling tenaciously to God and His empowering grace. Some of the greatest men of Christianity, that we perceive as giants of the faith, implicitly understood their weaknesses (PHIL 3:4), and clung tenaciously to the LORD, seeking His empowering grace (ROM 5:2; 1 PET 5:12).
Not once, or twice – but three times, Peter denies His LORD, and once the rooster crowed, the words of Jesus return and resounds in his ears with thundering conviction. When he remembered these words, he left and wept bitterly. Guilty and alone, Peter flees.

Amid such personal defeat on Peter’s account that we are approaching the glorious victory of Christ in the next chapter!

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