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Shall we turn now to Matthew's gospel chapter twenty-five? In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew's gospel the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him what would be the signs that would precede the destruction of the temple, and then the signs of thy coming, and the end of the age. He had just left the scribes and the Pharisees, and told them that they would not see Him again, until they said, "blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord".
And so Jesus was referring to another coming. And so the disciples were questioning what will be the signs of thy coming in the end of the age. And so He proceeded to tell them the various signs that would indicate His return, and then having given to them many of the signs and the events that would take place prior to His return, His coming in clouds of glory to establish God's kingdom here upon the earth. He then said to His disciples that the important thing for them was they should be watching, and they should be ready, because they will not know the day, or the hour that the Son of man is coming.
Paul wrote to us in first Thessalonians chapter five, he said, "of the times and the seasons you have no need that I write unto you, for you yourselves know perfectly well that the coming of the Lord is as a thief in the night, but you are not the children of darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief".
Now the Lord does expect us to be aware of the times and the seasons, however, we do not know the day, or the hour. Therefore, the word of Christ to us is to be watching, and to be ready. And He gave to them a series of parables, and the emphasis of the parable was to be watching, or to be ready for the Lord, because you don't know when He is coming again. So the important thing is that you are watching, and that you are ready.
So we are continuing then, as we get into chapter twenty-five, these series of parables, which have as the chief thrust, the importance of us to be watching, and the importance for us to be ready when He returns. Because unfortunately there will be some who are not ready, and the coming of the Lord will catch them by surprise and they will not enter into the glorious marriage feast of the lamb.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven (Mat 25:1),
Then; when? When Jesus of course comes again!
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and they went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. And they that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. And while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all of those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise: Give us some of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so, lest there not be enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Mat 25:1-13).
Now with this particular parable there is both, the injunctions to be ready, for they that were ready went in, and then He concludes by saying, "watch therefore, because you don't know when He is coming".
Now again with the interpretation of the parable of the ten virgins, there are probably ten interpretations. Rather than try and go through the various ways that this parable has been interpreted, I will just share with you my understanding of the parable, and if you don't like my understanding, you can go ahead and pick something that fits your schema.
But I believe that the parable of the ten virgins, the ten virgins are representative of the whole church. That the five wise are representative of the true body of Christ. Now there is a vast church system in the world today, as Jesus said in His parables of the kingdom, how that the mustard seed grew into a tree, and every bird came and lodged in its branches. There are all kinds of birds lodging in the overall tree of the church, some of them not so good.
As we look at the church today in the world, I think that it is safe to say, for the most part the church is pretty apostate. There are surely many apostate ministers. As Paul the apostle said, "there will come up from among your own group, those who will depart from the faith, seeking to draw men after themselves, and many of them departing from our very Lord." And when you hear the unbelief and skepticism that is expressed by so many ministers today; unbelief in the Bible as God's inspired word, unbelief in the virgin birth in Jesus Christ, unbelief in the atoning death of Christ, and yet they call themselves ministers. And yet they are part of major denominations. And yet they are embracing all kinds of ungodly doctrines. And many of them are extremely opposed to any fundamental view of the scriptures and especially to any evangelical approach to man.
So the church encompasses a broad spectrum of people; some converted, and some unconverted. Surely this is declared in the messages of Jesus to the seven churches there in the second and third chapter in the book of Revelation. To many of the churches the word of the Lord was, "repent, or else I am going to come quickly." And the inference is that if you don't repent, you are going to be going into the Great Tribulation. In fact, He said that plainly to the church of Thyatira: "I gave her space to repent of her fornication, but she repented not, therefore I will cast her into the great tribulation, and those who commit fornication with her, unless they repent"(Revelation 2:21).
The church unfortunately is not a true representation of Jesus Christ. And I blush with shame at the history of the church. I blush with shame at the World Council of Churches today, the actions, the deeds of these men in the name of Christianity. But within this whole system of the church, God does have His faithful remnant, the true body of Christ. Jesus said to the church of Philadelphia, "thou has kept the word of my patience"(Revelation 3:10). There are those who are keeping true to the word of God. And within the church itself there is the true body of Christ.
Now the oil is representative in the scriptures of the Holy Spirit. There are those who are trying to do the work of the ministry, and the work of the gospel in the energies, and the abilities of their flesh, and their flesh only.
The church has developed magnificent programs. Some of the greatest genius of man has been dedicated to devising and scheming finance programs, and enlargement programs, and all of these kinds of things whereby the church might be built into a great organization and structure, that might influence the world through politics. But then there are those who are walking in the Spirit, who are filled with the Spirit, who are trusting in the Spirit to guide the church, to build the church. Paul tells us in Romans, "but as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God"(Romans 8:14).
And so it is significant that there were those foolish virgins who had their lamps, but no oil. And as the result when the cry finally came, behold the bridegroom cometh, notice they were all lumped in one party until that final cry, and then the real nature was exposed. And those foolish virgins lacking the oil, as they began to trim the wicks, they said, "oh, our lamps are going out." And they realized at that time that they didn't have the true light, but it was also at that time too late. And while they were gone to buy the oil, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went into the marriage feast of the Lamb. They that were foolish, when they came back, they said, "open to us," but the Lord said, "I don't know you; too late."
Therefore, be ready. Not only that, walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, depend upon the Spirit of God, be filled with the Spirit; all of these are injunctions given to us throughout the New Testament. And watch, therefore, because you don't know when the Lord is coming.
Now again, the kingdom of heaven is as a man who is traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents (Mat 25:14-15),
And a talent is actually a weight, and so the value depends on whether or not it is copper, or silver, or gold.
and to another he gave two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and he took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went out and traded the same, and made them other five talents [or increased them]. And likewise he that had received the two, he also gained another two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. And after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought the other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered unto me five talents: and behold, I've gained besides them five more talents. And his lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received the two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered unto me two talents: and behold, I've gained two other talents besides them. And his lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I know you, you are a hard man, you reap where you have not sown, you gather where you have not strowed: and I was afraid, and I went and hide the talent in the earth: and lo, there thou hast all that is thine [I give you back the talent you gave me]. And his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reaped where I did not sow, and I gathered where I had not strowed: you ought therefore have put the money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury [or interest]. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. For unto everyone that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. And cast ye thee unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mat 25:15-30).
Here obviously the Lord is telling us that He is wanting us to be productive with His things. Whatever God has entrusted into our care or keeping, God expects us to use it and to be productive with it. Not to bury, or to hide, not to try to just to preserve, but the Lord wants us to increase that which He has entrusted into our keeping. Now it is interesting to me that the amount that he gave to each one was according to that person's abilities. But the person who had the two was rewarded just as that one who had the five, in that in their doubling of what was given to them, they were each commanded of the Lord as good and faithful servants, and were given their place into the kingdom.
This parable would seem to indicate that our position in the kingdom of God, when Jesus comes to establish that kingdom upon the earth, will be relative to the faithfulness now to the things of God that God has entrusted into our care. If God has placed things in my keeping then I am responsible to be using those things to increase the kingdom of God. And if I am faithful now in those things that God has entrusted to me, then according to that faithfulness will be my position in the coming kingdom. In one of the gospels it says He said to him, "be thou ruler over ten cities, enter into the joy of thy lord"(Luke 10:17).
The Bible teaches that we are going to live and reign with Jesus Christ. Jesus in His message to the churches, to those who overcame, He said, that they would rule over the earth with a rod of iron. Looking forward to that day when Christ shall establish His kingdom, and our position in the kingdom determined on how I handle now those things God has entrusted to me.
Now God has entrusted to each one of His servants something. And to each one that was entrusted by God with whatever it was, it was his responsibility to use it, to bring an increase unto the Lord. It should cause each of us to seriously examine our own lives, and seek first of all to understand what is it that God has entrusted to me of His kingdom, of His kingdom's goods. And then what am I doing with what God has entrusted to me? Am I a faithful servant, or am I slothful in spiritual things, in the things of the kingdom? Do I have a very slothful attitude, just seeking to hang onto the status quo, rather than really seeking to use those things of God to their best advantage?
Now Jesus declares in verse thirty-one;
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. And then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry and fed thee, or thirsty and gave you a drink? When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? or when did we see you sick, or imprisoned, and came unto you? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry, and you did not give me meat: I was thirsty, you did not give me a drink: I was a stranger, you did not take me in: I was naked, and you did not clothe me: sick, and imprisoned, and you did not visit me. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or imprisoned, and did not minister unto you? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Mat 25:31-46).
When Jesus returns to the earth in glory to establish His kingdom upon the earth, the first order of business at His return will be the judgement of the nations, in which it will be determined which of those people who have survived the Great Tribulation will be allowed to enter into the kingdom age. And so all of the people of the nations will be gathered before Christ for this period of judgement. So it is possible that a person could survive the Great Tribulation and see the Lord when He comes again, and still not be able to enter into the kingdom age. There will be a definite division at that point, as He separates the people, the nations, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
In Daniel chapter twelve, as Daniel is asking the Lord "How long till the end?" And the Lord informs Daniel, "from the time the daily oblations and sacrifices are caused to be ceased, unto the end shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days". And He said, "blessed is he who comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-fifth day."
I believe that that signifies that this particular period of which Jesus is referring here in Matthew twenty-five will probably last for forty days, which is the number of judgement in the scriptures, forty is the number of judgement. "And it rained for forty days and forty nights", and this is a numeric kind of symbolism, the number of judgement. And it would appear that Jesus will be judging for forty-five days, actually, from the one thousand two hundred and ninety to one thousand and three hundred and thirty-fifth.
This period of judgement, though, in which Jesus will be judging the nations, as the Lord said to Daniel, "blessed is he who comes to the one thousand and three hundred and thirty-fifth day"; that is, if you make it to then you're in the kingdom. He will have cast off from the kingdom at that point, those that He deems unworthy to enter in.
Now notice to those referred to as His sheep He said "come ye, blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. It is interesting how that so often the scripture refers to God's plan for our lives, having existed from the foundations of the world. "Chosen in Him," Paul said, "from the foundations of the word." God's plan, God's eternal plan for His children to share in the glory of His kingdom. Jesus prayed, "Father I would that they who have been with me might share with me in the glory. That they might see me with the glory that I have with you before the world ever was"(John 17:5). The glory of God's kingdom. Those who will be able to share it.
Now when did we see you hungry, when did we see you thirsty, when did we see you in these conditions? And Jesus responds, "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me."
There is a very beautiful story of a Martin of Turin. He was a soldier and he was a Christian. And as he was entering into a city on a cold day, there was a beggar in rags asking him for help. But Martin didn't have any money, and so he took his coat, his Army coat, and he cut it in half, and he gave half of it to this beggar. It was sort of a tattered coat and all, but he was willing to share it with this man in need. That night, it is said that Martin had a dream. And in his dream he saw the Lord standing with all of His holy angels in heaven, and the Lord was wearing half of an army coat. "Inasmuch as you've done it unto the least of these my brethren, you've done it unto me."
You know whatever we do we should do as unto the Lord. And whatever we do as unto the Lord, the Lord will reward us for it. So important that we be interested in people around us, in the needs of people around us. How can I say that the love of God dwells in my heart, if I close up my heart to the needs of people?
James in his practical exposition, bringing Christianity into the practical aspects said that if you just say to a brother, "Oh be fed, be warm"(James 2:16) and all, and yet you don't actually give him something, what good have you really done him? And he exhorts us actually to the practical aspects of reaching out, having compassion for those that are in need and reaching out to help those that are in need. Surely in these days of economic crisis, we as true children of God should be very concerned with those less fortunate ones in our midst, around us, who are in need of help at this time. How can we apply luxuries upon ourselves, when someone next to us is going hungry?
Jesus said "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me." And those who we are ignoring the needs of those around them, the goats, "inasmuch as you didn't do it unto them, you didn't do it to me," Jesus said. Now there was one thing that I thought was interesting there, "depart from me", verse forty-one, "ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." God did not prepare Gehenna for men; it was prepared by God for Satan. Therefore God does not cast men into hell. He didn't prepare it for men; He prepared it for Satan. However, if a person wants to align himself with Satan and go there, God will do His best to stop him. God has done his best to stop him. He has sent His only begotten Son to save men from that fate. But if a person wants to reject God's provisions, if a person is bent upon rebelling against God, and joining with Satan's rebellion against God's kingdom, then a man can by his own volition and his own choices spend eternity apart from God.
The last verse, "and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal." Now the question of whether or not a person is in torment and suffers forever is an issue that I hope doesn't exist, but I dare not seek to change what God has said or to modify what God has said. And here Jesus said "depart from me, ye cursed into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal".
Now just what that does mean, I am not prepared to say. But I dare not try to modify it or change it. But really why should you be so concerned about it, if you're not going there. You know rather than being all upset over that aspect, just look for the Lord, and escape the place, and then you don't have to worry about it. Whether or not it's temporarily, whether or not you are consumed there, whether or not you're going to go on for a period of time, or whatever. As I say I would hope that, but I don't know.
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings (Mat 26:1),
This is the end of now the Olivet discourse.
He now said to his disciples, Now you know that in two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified (Mat 26:1-2).
Now this is interesting, because this apparently was on Monday, that Jesus gave the Olivet discourse. He had made His triumphant entry on Sunday, which is known as Palm Sunday, and then the next day He came back into the temple. And He had been there the day before and cleansed the things, drove out the moneychangers. The next day when He came back the scribes and the priests and all said, "By what authority?" and they challenged Him on the issue. And so as they were leaving the temple they said, "Lord what will be the sign of your coming, and the destruction of the temple?" And Jesus gave this Olivet discourse.
Now as He had finished the discourse, now He said to His disciples, "You know in two days it's going to be the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is to be betrayed, to be crucified." Now if He was saying this on Monday, it meant that the feast of the Passover in two days would of course be on Wednesday. And Jesus was crucified on the feast day, the feast of the Passover. So it would appear that Jesus was probably crucified on Wednesday, which would then give you the three days, and the three nights in the heart of the earth. People have an awful hard time figuring that from a Sunday aspect, from a Friday crucifixion to a Sunday morning; three days and three nights takes a lot of juggling. So after two days, the feast of the Passover and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
Then assembled together the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, the high priest was called Caiaphas (Mat 26:3),
Actually there were two high priests, Caiaphas and Annas. Caiaphas the appointment of the Roman government, and Annas the accepted one by the people, the religious people.
And they consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people (Mat 26:4-5).
So they were doing their best to keep this from happening on the feast day, and yet in order that it might really fulfill the types of the Old Testament, it was important that Jesus be crucified as the Lamb of God on the feast day. So they were trying to avoid the feast day, but yet there was no way that they could, because that was appropriate that that feast of the Passover, in which they remembered how that the lamb was slain in order to save the first born. So the Lamb of God establishing now a new covenant of God, with people. It was important that it be on that day that commemorated the Passover lamb, Christ our Passover suffering for us.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. And when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? (Mat 26:6-8)
Now in John's gospel he tells us that the disciple that declared this was Judas Iscariot.
When this woman came and poured this expensive perfume on Jesus, perfume that was worth several thousands of dollars, Judas became indignant, and he said, "what purpose is this waste?" Now John tells us that Judas said, "that could have been sold for several thousand dollars, and we could have given the money to the poor."
But John tells us that he said it not because he was really interested in the poor, and this is of course were Jesus Christ Superstar really stumbled and fell on his nose, and really revealed the true character of the whole portrayal. Because in this portion, they seem to make Judas appear to be the hero of the whole issue. Here Judas is a very benevolent man. He has a great concern for the poor. And this waste, this extravagant waste upon Jesus, when the money could have been given to the poor, and Judas comes out as the shining hero. And Jesus becomes in that portion of the play, an extravagant careless person, who is disregarding the needs of others.
But had they only read on, John said that Judas said this not because he cared for the poor, but because he was holding the money and had been feeding out of it. So Judas wasn't really a very magnanimous kind of an individual concerned with the poor. He is holding the bag of money and had been feeding out of the money. And he figured, wow, if we had that in the treasury there would be more to pilfer.
So they said,
This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. And when Jesus understood it, he said to them, Why do you trouble the woman? for she has wrought a good work upon me. You'll have the poor always with you; but me you will not always have. For in that she has poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. And I say unto you, that wherever the gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this be declared, that this woman has done, and told for a memorial of her (Mat 26:9-13).
Now in this, Judas was rather rebuked by Jesus for the statement he made. So he left.
One of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and he said unto them, What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought the opportunity to betray Christ (Mat 26:14-16).
Of course the thirty pieces of silver was a price that was predicted in prophecy in the Old Testament in the book of Zechariah chapter eleven, verses twelve and thirteen. And then it was told also by Zechariah that the silver would be cast down in the house of the Lord, and used to buy a potter's field. Thirty pieces of silver was the price that you would have to pay to your neighbor if you had an ox who was always goring people, or going around butting people with his horns, and he happened to gore your neighbor's servant and killed him. You would have to pay your neighbor thirty pieces of silver for his gored slave, in order to compensate him for the lost of his servant.
As in Zechariah said, "and name for me the price of which I am priced of you." And they measured out thirty pieces of silver. And he said, "a good price, that I was priced at them, and throw it down in the house of the Lord." And so Judas turning against Christ, seeking now to betray Him, looking for the opportunity.
Now on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where will you that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover (Mat 26:17-19).
Now remember that among the Jews their day does not begin at midnight, as does ours, their day begins at sundown. So they celebrate their Sabbath dinner not on Saturday night, but on Friday night, because their Sabbath begins at sundown Friday night, and goes till sundown Saturday night. So Jesus having the Passover dinner with His disciples, had it at the beginning of the day of Passover, which began at sundown. And so in the evening they ate the Passover meal together, but that day continued until sundown the following day. So that on the first day of the feast of the Passover, as the disciples came, it was to prepare the meal for the Passover.
And then was not like we take a piece of bread and we drink a cup, and have communion, but theirs was a feast. They would roast the lamb and they would eat the whole thing. It was just a time of feasting. And in the early church they had feasts they called the agape feast. And so at sundown, they were to have the thing ready, and prepared, and they ate then the Passover dinner with Jesus. And then of course it was that night that Judas came in the garden of Gethsemane, and the following day, which would have been the day of the feast of the Passover, is when Jesus was crucified.
So when the even was come, Jesus sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you is going to betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and they began every one of them to say to him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. Now the Son of man is going as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born (Mat 26:20-24).
What an awesome thing to say of an individual, but while that might be said of every man who betrays Christ, well might that be said of every man who refuses to except Jesus Christ. "It would have been good for that person, had they never been born", than to be born and to live and to reject God's provision for their Salvation. You'd be better off if you'd never been born, than to reject God's love.
Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? (Mat 26:25)
Of course he had already made the agreement, he knew it was him, he had already made the covenant.
And Jesus said, You said it. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and he blessed it, and he broke it, and he gave it to the disciples, and he said, Take, eat; this is my body (Mat 26:25-26).
The broken bread, Jesus relates it now to His body.
And he took the cup, and he gave thanks, and he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom (Mat 26:27-29).
Now here Jesus institutes what we commonly call the Lord's supper, that which we observe here at Calvary Chapel, we'll be observing Thursday night. As we take the broken bread, and as we take the cup, and as we remember Jesus Christ, His body broken for us, His blood that was shed for our sins; as we remember the new covenant that God has made in the blood of Jesus Christ.
The old covenant was established through Moses. The covenant whereby men could relate to God, whereby a man might come to God. And under the old covenant man approached God through a priest, who offered a sacrifice for that man and for that man's sin. And the priest would go in and approach God for that man. Jesus said, now we're establishing a new covenant. A new approach to God. That approach is through Jesus Christ.
In the book of Hebrews the author goes through great length to declare how much better covenant we have through Jesus Christ. Showing that the covenant that God had established by the priesthood of Levi was something that had to be continued year by year. Had the sacrifice been complete, they would not have had to make it every year, going into the Holy of Holies.
But Jesus Christ has established a better covenant, a better way in once and for all given His life for us, that we through Him might be able to come to God, and to relate to God. The whole basis of God's covenant with men is relationship with men, men with God, and that basis by which I can come to God and relate to God.
Now God has made a way for all of us to come, and it's through Jesus Christ, and the blood that He shed for our sins. And so Christ is establishing now through this memorial the Passover, that of which the Passover supper was always looking forward to. They observed the Sabbath and the new moons and all, Paul said, "which were all a shadow of things to come. But the substance, the body is of Christ". All of the observances of the Passover feast in the Old Testament were all of them just looking forward to the actual Lamb of God, who would give His life for the sins of the world, and establish a covenant whereby men through Him could come into a oneness with God. So that beautiful covenant whereby we come to God through Jesus Christ.
Now I look forward to that day when I drink of it in His Father's kingdom with Him. I am going to have a glorious Lord's supper some day. And we're going to just be there with Jesus in the kingdom of God.
Now when he had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives (Mat 26:30).
I wish they would have had a twenty-four track-recording studio in those days. Man, I would love to have a cassette of Jesus singing with His disciples. The twelve singing men, Judas was already gone, that left the eleven with Jesus. What did they sing? Actually they sang Psalm 136. This is the psalm that they traditionally sang at the close of the Passover. And so you can go back and read the lyrics of the song that Jesus sang, the hymn that He sang with His disciples there in Psalm 136, that Hallel psalm, which traditionally sang at the end of the Passover feast.
"Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Oh give thanks unto the God of gods for His mercy endures forever. Oh give thanks to the Lord of lords for His mercy endures forever. To Him who alone does great wonders, for His mercy endures forever. To Him by His wisdom has made the heavens"(Psalms 136:1-5), and on through that psalm that declares the glorious mercies of God. And the law came by Moses, but grace and truth in Jesus Christ. The demonstration of God's mercies for men.
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, [in Zechariah] I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. And Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times. And Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. And likewise also said all the disciples (Mat 26:31-35).
Peter is guilty here of boasting in his flesh. And really in a sense declaring that his love was superior to the love of the other disciples. When Jesus told him the prophecy of Zechariah, "smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered abroad"(Zechariah 13:7). All of you are going to be offended tonight because of me. Peter said, "Lord, though they may be offend you, I will never be offended." Boasting in the flesh. I will never be offended.
And Jesus responded, "Peter before the cock crows you will have denied me three times." Peter continued to argue with the Lord. Arguing with the Lord has to be folly. Have you ever engaged in that folly? I have; I've found myself arguing with the Lord. I was always wrong. Peter was challenging the statements of Jesus. "Though they, I will never be. Lord, I would never deny you, I would die for you".
Do not doubt Peter's sincerity. Do not doubt his devotion. I believe that Peter was absolutely sincere when he declared this. I believe at that moment Peter believed what he was saying to be absolutely true. I believe that Peter felt that he would actually lay down his life for Jesus. "I would die with you. I would never deny you." But it does show us the folly of vows that are made predicated upon the ability of our flesh. To make a promise to God, to make a vow to God is only to trust in the flesh.
Jesus later on will say to Peter, "Peter your spirit indeed is willing"; that's right, your spirit is right, there is no problem there, but your flesh is weak. A common ailment that we all know. It isn't a question of my spirit. It isn't a question of my love. It isn't a question of my devotion. It isn't a question of my sincerity, or even of my desire. The question is the weakness of my flesh; that 's the problem. That's where the problem lies. I love the Lord. I want to serve the Lord with everything I have. My problem is that I am living in a body of flesh, and it is weak.
Now it is important that I know that it is weak, so that I do not trust in it. And this is what Peter was needing to learn. Jesus knew it all the time. The Bible says, "He knows our frame, He knows we're but dust." I don't know my frame. I am often prone to think that I am stronger than I really am. Why is it that I think I really am more capable than I really am? And because of my feelings of ability, the confidence that I sometimes have in my ability, God must reveal to me the weakness of my own flesh in order that I will learn not to rely upon myself, but to rely completely on Him.
If I am relying in myself, If I become a self-reliant person, then my strength is always limited to me. My abilities are always limited to me. But if I learn that I am weak, that I can't do it, and I learn to trust in the Lord and to trust in His strength and trust in His ability, then I have unlimited strength and unlimited ability. And God wants to bring you to the broader dimensions of unlimited strength, unlimited potential, unlimited abilities, but trusting in Him to do the work. And Peter needed to learn that. And his spirit indeed was willing, but his flesh was weak. Jesus knew it. Peter didn't. Peter needed to know it. And of course he found out in a little while.
Then came Jesus with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said unto his disciples, Sit here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and he began to be sorrowful and very heavy (Mat 26:36-37).
The whole thing, the pressure began to come upon Jesus at this point.
And he said unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me (Mat 26:38).
It's almost as though Jesus is bringing these three who He had brought into that close intimate relationship with Himself, the three who had the privilege of being on the Mount of Transfiguration with Him. The three that were so often designated for special missions. "Fellows stay with me, watch with me, my soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death, watch with me." Sort of reaching out for that support from these His closest associates.
And he went a little farther, and he fell on his face, and he prayed, saying, O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me (Mat 26:39):
This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for the remission of sins. "Father if it is possible let this cup pass from me." If what is possible? If remission of sins is possible? Oh how this speaks against the blasphemous works of men to be accepted by God. A man thinking that he can offer to God his own good works, in order that he might receive the remission of his sins. How this speaks against the efforts of man to be accepted by God, by any other means. If it is possible, if salvation for man is possible, if man can be saved by being sincere, if man can be saved by being good, if man can be saved by being moral, if a man can be saved by being religious, if there is some other way by which sins might be remitted, let this cup pass from me.
Christ is calling now for an alternate plan. And yet He declares,
nevertheless not my will, thine will be done (Mat 26:39).
There submitting Himself unto the will of the father, is what involves the taking up of the cross. Jesus said to us that if we would come after Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross. What does He mean, take up our cross? It means that I too must submit my will totally to the Father.
Let me say that it takes far greater faith to submit yourself totally to God, and to commit your life and all, totally to God, that takes far greater faith, than it does to insist that God heal you or that God do something for you. These people that are going around declaring that you should demand from God whatever you want, and insist upon it, make your confessions, and God must act aqueous to your will, have no understanding of God, the nature of God nor our relationship to Him.
Jesus expressed His will, and that's fine. I often in prayer express my will to God. "Lord this is what I would like to see, this is what I would like to have." But whenever I express my will to God I always make that reservation; "Nevertheless, not my will, your will be done." Because I know that God's will is much better than mine, and God's ways are much better than mine. And Jesus here is declaring, "if it's possible, let the cup pass; nevertheless not what I will."
Now what the cross of Christ then declares, and should declare to all men is that there is only one way by which a person can be saved, for had it been possible, surely God would have taken an alternate way, as His Son cried out to Him there from the garden. If you could be saved by being good, or moral, or whatever, then God would have inaugurated morality, a law, a code, by which you could live and abide, and be accepted by God, be forgiven. But such was not the case. The new covenant must be established in the blood of Jesus Christ. The cross was an essential for salvation. And that's why the cross offends people today. Because the cross always declares, "there is only one way by which a man can approach God, and that's through Jesus Christ".
Now he came to his disciples, and he found them asleep, and he said to Peter, Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mat 26:40-41).
Here when Jesus needed their support more then any other time, He would bereft of it, for they were sleeping, instead of watching, instead of praying, instead of being there to encourage and strengthen, His disciples were weary, and they were sleeping. And Jesus wakes them up and sort of chides them, "could you not watch one hour, watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation?" And then, understanding, "I know your spirit indeed is willing, that's not your problem, your flesh is weak, I know that."
And he went away again the second time, and he prayed, and he said, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done (Mat 26:42).
Consigning Himself now completely to the Father's will. "Lord, your will be done."
And again he came and found them asleep: for their eyes were heavy. And so he left them, and he went away again, and he prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then came he to his disciples, and he said unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest (Mat 26:43-45):
Now these are not words of scorn or rebuke, but these are words of tender love to those men that He had become so close to.
Notice there is a colon there. Sleep on now, take your rest. Probably there is an interval of several hours designated by that colon. And I believe that during this interval of time, as the disciples weary, or sleeping there on the ground in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus just sat, "you can't watch with me, but I watch over you". And He was waiting, waiting for Judas to come. Waiting for the inevitable to happen.
And I think He was just sitting there, looking at these fellows loving them, and praying for each of them. I think He just sort of went around in the circle and said, "Oh Lord there is Peter. He is going to blow it so bad, and he is going to be so discouraged. He is going to feel so guilty, and it's just going to eat at him. Lord just really help Peter. Lord just really work in his life. Father use him as the instrument to strengthen the others, when you've done your work in him.
Jesus said, "Peter I have prayed for you that your faith fail thee not, and when thou art converted strengthen your brothers." I think Jesus was probably praying that right at this moment as He was sitting there watching the disciples. And there is an interval of time of perhaps several hours because He had gone to the garden after the dinner, and the dinner usually began somewhere around six o'clock or so. And after the dinner they had gone in the garden. And there He spent the time in prayer, and then, it wasn't until towards morning when Judas came out, because it was while He was still at Caiaphas that the rooster began to crow, indicating that it was getting to be close to morning. They start crowing at about five o'clock in the morning or so.
So for a couple of hours, probably Jesus just sat there looking at them, watching over them, praying for them. Knowing the heartache, knowing the confusion that they were going to experiencing, knowing the whole experience, the trauma that they were going to go through, when they saw Him crucified. I think that He was just praying that the Father would strengthen them. And how often I wonder, He sits over us, watching us as our Lord. You know He is there making intercession for us, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for you. And how many times He just sits watching you as you sleep. And He says, "Now Father, they're going to have a rough day tomorrow. They're going to be facing a lot of problems. Lord, just really strengthen them, Father minister to them and all".
How beautiful Jesus sitting there in the garden watching over His disciples. Now that interval time is past, and Jesus then said, "fellows wake up",
Behold, the hour is at hand, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand who betrays me (Mat 26:45-46).
He could probably hear the soldiers coming through the garden. Hear them as they were coming down the path from the Kidron Valley, making their way from the house of Caiaphas and all, and noise seems to travel so easily in that country.
And while he yet spoke, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him (Mat 26:47-49).
This is an interesting word in the Greek, because it says in the Greek there is a word for kiss, which is the peck on the cheek that you give your wife when you leave in the morning. And then there is another Greek word for kiss, which is a passionate kiss. And it is interesting that these two Greek words are employed. Judas said, whomever I kiss, that is sort of a peck on the cheek kind of a thing, but when Judas came and it said, "he kissed Him", the other Greek word is used, kissed Him passionately.
And Jesus said unto him, Friend, why have you come? Then they came, and they laid hands on Jesus, and took him (Mat 26:50).
Another gospel says, "Judas you betray me with a passionate kiss!"
And, behold, one of them which was with Jesus (Mat 26:51)
We know from the other gospels it was Peter. Of course you just know it anyhow, wouldn't you.
stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest, and smote off his ear (Mat 26:51).
He can be glad that Peter was half-asleep; he would have had his head.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Don't you realize that I could pray to the Father, and he would presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? (Mat 26:52-53)
Peter don't you realize yet what's going on? I don't have to do this. He was submitting to the will of the Father. "I could escape this right now. I could say okay Father, it's enough", and twelve legions of angels would come down and deliver Him out of their hands. He didn't need Peter swinging away with his sword.
In the Old Testament we read that when the angel of Lord passed through the army of the Syrians, the camp of the Syrians, in one evening one angel slew one hundred and eighty-five thousand. Imagine what twelve legions could do, but the Roman legions, of which they were so familiar and terrified, what could they do against a legion of angels or even against one angel?
"Peter don't you realize that I could call twelve legions of angels to deliver me, but if I did that,
how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Mat 26:54)
If I call now for deliverance, how could the scriptures be fulfilled? How could man be saved?
And in the same hour Jesus said to the multitudes, Are you come out as against a thief with swords and staves to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, you didn't lay hands on me. But all of this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. And then all of the disciples forsook him, and fled (Mat 26:55-56).
They suddenly just sort of disappeared in the darkness of the garden, and the attention was upon Jesus, and He was alone.
And they that laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed Him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and he went in, and he sat with the servants, to see the end. And now the chief priests, and the elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but they found none; though many people bore witness, yet they really didn't find any that they could use. Until finally there came two witnesses, who said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to built it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Don't you answer anything? what is it which these are witnessing against you (Mat 26:57-62).
Now of course Jesus talking about the temple of His own body. In asking for a sign, He said, "destroy this temple, and in three days I build it." And now they are using this phrase and saying, "He said destroy the temple of God and He could rebuild it in three days."
Of course even when Jesus said that, they challenged Him. They said, "Hey, we've been forty-six years building this thing. What do you mean build it in three days?" But He was talking about the temple of his own body.
But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him (Mat 26:63),
Now Jesus didn't respond until the high priest, then with this oath challenged him. He said,
I adjure thee by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God (Mat 26:63).
Now he is adjuring him by the Father, by the living God. And so Jesus then responds to him, and
He said unto him, Thou hast said [or you said it]: nevertheless [He said], 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. Then the high priest tore his clothes saying, He has spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of any witnesses? behold, now we have heard the blasphemy. What do you think? And they all answered and said, He is guilty of death. And they did spit in his face, and they buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands (Mat 26:64-67),
In Isaiah chapter fifty, verse six as Isaiah is prophesying concerning Jesus he said, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting."
Spitting is in that oriental culture a sign of total disdain. And that isn't really the spitting of the saliva that is in your mouth, they really dig deep. And it's horrible. We've had them spit at us over there. The people in that culture, if you take a picture for instance, and they don't want you to take a picture of them, then you better be able to duck. They show their disdain by just spitting on a person. It's just absolute disdain. It's one of the most shameful things that you can do to a person, of course that's easily recognized.
Now Isaiah said, "they plucked His beard". Grabbed a handful and pulled out the buffeted His face. One of the gospels tells us that they covered His face, and then buffeted Him, which is far more painful. Our bodies are marvelously designed, and we have tremendous reflex actions. So that if I see a blow coming, my body instinctively reacts to that blow, and I give with it. And by given with that blow, I am cushioning the blow, so it isn't as severe.
When the quarterbacks really get hurt, is when they get blindsided. They see those big two hundred and seventy-five-pound tackles coming at them, and they relax and they just sort of go limp and roll with it. And you're in good shape as long as you can see it, and your body responds and reacts, and with that reflex action you give with the punch. But if you don't see it when you're blindsided, you're not expecting it, that's when you really get injured, that's when you really get hurt.
And the same in boxing. It's when you're coming in that a guy catches you flush, and you're not able to move back. A lot of people say, oh how can he take all that punishment? Well you learn to give with the blows. You learn to be relaxed and you cushion the blow by giving with it. The knockout punch is when a guy isn't giving, he is coming in, and suddenly you catch him with a blow, as he is coming in, and he gets the full force of it, and that's the thing that knocks a guy out.
Now in covering the face of Jesus, it took away this advantage of reflex actions, and of cushioning the blows, so that with the face covered and then they began to hit Him, it was the full impact of the blow. And then they would cry out,
Prophesy, who was it, name me, who was it that hit you? (Mat 26:68)
All of this He endured because He loved you.
Now Isaiah goes on in chapter fifty-two, to tell of that suffering that Jesus received, and He said, "as many as were astonished at thee, for His visage was so marred, more than any man, and His form more then the sons of men"(Isaiah 52:14).
In the Hebrew that is declaring that His face was so marred, you could not recognize Him as a man. By the time they pulled out His beard, and put the sack over His head and began to hit Him on the face and buffed Him, the face began to swell up, and contusions, and bruises, and the whole thing. When they were through with Him, you could not recognize Him as a man, as a human being. And Isaiah said, we, as it were, hid our face from Him. That is, looking at Him was such a shocking experience, you couldn't stand to see it.
You ever come upon an accident, and you see persons that are so mangled, that you just had to turn your head, you just couldn't look? That's what Isaiah is saying it was like. We, as it were, hid our faces from Him. But then Isaiah said, "but He was bruised, He was wounded for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:5). It was for me, wounded for me, chastised for our peace.
Now Peter was sitting outside of the palace (Mat 26:69):
And how it must have hurt for him to see all of this going on. But yet by this point, seeing such fierce anger, and the crowd turned against Jesus with such venom, fear gripped his heart.
And when a damsel came to him, and said, You were also with Jesus of Galilee. He denied before all of them, saying, I don't know what you are talking about. And when he was gone out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said unto those that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man (Mat 26:69-72).
"I swear to you, I don't know Him."
And after awhile there came unto him those who were standing by, and they said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for your speech gives you away. [You have the accent of a Galilean.] And then began he to curse, and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times. And he went out, and wept bitterly (Mat 26:73-75).
How my heart goes out to Peter, because I can identify with Peter. For I have been in the same place, where I have done that which I swore I would not do. That which I promised God I would never do. I have failed. My flesh has failed. I also am guilty of denying the Lord by actions, by deeds, denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The comforting thing to me is the fact that Peter was restored. Not only restored, but God used him in a marvelous way. Though Peter had many flaws, though he was impulsive, though he would swing easily with the sword, though there were many times when he was rebuked, and though he was even guilty of failing under the pressure in the crisis, yet the Lord took Peter and used him in such a marvelous way, as an instrument and the development of the church. That encourages me, because I know that God can use men like Peter, and thus He can use men like me.
But it is first of all necessary that God prepare that man that He uses. For you are His workmanship, created together in Christ Jesus unto the good works that God has before ordained that you should walk therein. And God is working in our lives to take away our confidence in our flesh, to bring us to the awareness of our need of relying totally upon Jesus Christ. So that as God begins to do the work in and through our lives we will not be taking the credit, or the glory for the work that God has done. But recognizing that my flesh is weak, and in and of myself I can do nothing, as God works through me, I can only praise God, and magnify the Lord, who uses imperfect instruments to do His work as He anoints them with the power of His Holy Spirit. And I can only seek to be empowered by the Spirit of God in such a way that it will over compensate for the weakness of my own flesh, and then I glory in the victory that God gives to me through the Spirit.
God wants to work in each of us. God has given to each of us a talent. It is important what we do with that talent. It is very important that we do not bury it, but that we use it for His glory. That we increase that which God has entrusted to us, and give it back to Him with the increase.
Shall we pray?
Father, we thank you for these lessons. Hide them away in our hearts. Teach us thy truth in Jesus' name. Amen.