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Matthew 26:31-46: Watch With Me

Posted by adventbiblestudy on August 24, 2012


Matthew 26:31-46 On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (32) But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” (33) Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter–this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” (35) “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same. (36) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” (37) He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. (38) He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (39) He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (40) Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? (41) Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (42) Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” (43) When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. (44) So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. (45) Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look–the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (46) Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

 

 

The past few days were filled with hundreds of details Jesus had to share with His disciples before His sacrifice. He knew the timing of the scriptures. His time was short. So much to do and so little time to do it. Jesus took a moment to think of eternity. It is so much different than this world with time being so short, always rushed, with the unseen force of time ruling over those God created in His image.

 

Like a checklist in His head Jesus thought about the lessons He taught in what seemed like a few short hours. Very few people will not appreciate the preparation God puts into the harvest of the world. They hardly notice the details because they are too involved and worried about all the little problems in their lives to place any value or hope on eternity. He warned them about doctrine, how men use it to separate race, creed, religion, and classes. A house divided cannot stand. When the disciples asked Him about prophecy He explained how many false Messiahs will come claiming to have special insight to prophecy. He hoped they would never forget the scene in the temple court when all the religious leaders gathered together to plot His death. All of them lived for the prophecies they believed in, and none of them were correct. Jesus knew one day His disciples would see men claim a special knowledge of prophecy to glorify themselves. Jesus knew the role of His disciples was to preach only prophecies which have been fulfilled. He thought about the prophecies which were about to be fulfilled. He knew the disciples would soon understand, prophecy is designed to glorify God not men. Fulfilled prophecy is what drew Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses closer to God. In a little while hundreds of fulfilled prophecies will draw thousands, millions closer to God.

 

A smile came to Jesus’ face as He thought about the lesson of unconditional love Mary taught them. He also illustrated this love by washing their feet. The same lesson He had taught using children as examples many times. The leader will be the servant to all.

 

On the way to the garden, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'” Peter thought he had heard this before, but he could not remember the when. The past two days offered little sleep as Jesus taught long into the night. He wondered if this was going to continue. Jesus went on speaking. “But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Suddenly it dawned on Peter, Jesus said they would all desert Him. Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” After Peter spoke he wondered if he spoke up to once again impress the others, or if he really had the dedication to follow Jesus where ever He was about to go, to face whatever sacrifices it required. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter–this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” There was still a lot of the old Peter left. The fisherman ready to face any peril whether it was man or nature. “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same. For the first time this made Peter feel like a real leader. He felt he spoke up at the right moment with the right words. For once everyone agreed with him.

 

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 

As if by instinct the disciples began to gather wood to build a fire. Jesus told them that would not be necessary this evening. The disciples gathered in a small group sitting on the ground covering themselves with their cloaks.

 

Peter, James, and John wondered what they were watching for. They had been there many times and looked at the Mount of Olives as a place of refuge. They also wondered what was troubling Jesus. Experience told them Jesus needed His time to pray. They figured He needed time alone and wanted them to make sure the other disciples did not bother Him. They thought their job was easy and welcomed a nice peaceful night, a chance to rest.

 

Jesus slowly walked into the night. It was so dark he did not see the branches on the trees until they were right in front of His face. The night was overcast and cool. Hardly a breeze could be felt. He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” He could feel the dew from the cool ground wetting His face and body. For a moment it reminded Him of the dew that rose up every evening to water the earth. It was much warmer there. Feeling the scattered sticks and leaves under Himself, He thought of how sin had changed the entire world. How beautify it was at creation, how happy Adam and Eve were, all the questions they asked and the long talks they had while taking a break to eat the fruits and nuts from the nearby trees. He also thought about how the animals would mill around looking for a bit of attention. Jesus thought of what He would give to restore the earth to its original condition, with one little change, Satan would not be in the new world to tempt anyone.

 

Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” Satan was not about to leave Jesus alone. He confronted Him with memories of how the world greeted Him at birth. Satan told Jesus, “no one knew, no one cared. It doesn’t matter to them. It never will.” Satan reminded Jesus about an entire city loosing its children. Satan blamed Jesus for their deaths. Satan accused God of abandoning Him by sending His family to Egypt. “Putting your trust in Egypt. What did your Father expect you to learn in Egypt, in my domain?”

 

Jesus knew Satan had an idea of what was happening. His devils had been filling dozens of important figures with plans to destroy Him and stop God’s plan. Satan reminded Jesus of all the religious and political figures he controlled and how easy it was to recruit them to carry out his wishes. He gave Jesus one more chance to honor him as prince of the world. Jesus would not listen to Satan. He remained in constant communication with His Father. Jesus thought of the battle ahead and the dedication His disciples, all of them would give Him. He knew they would be lost without Him. He trusted His Father and His plan. Jesus tried to remember when He discussed the plan with His Father in Heaven, but the details were not to be His for the moment. God required Jesus’ total trust and obedience. The same trust He expects to find in every one of His creations.

 

When Jesus returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Satan was gone for the moment. God wanted time alone with His Son. The demand infuriated Satan. He thought he had no choice but to carry on the next phase of his plan, the final trial.

 

God knew the trial His Son was about to face. Jesus knew God was reaching out to Him, and Jesus was reaching back with all His might. Every fiber of His body cried out to His Father. It was almost too much to bear, a feeling of being left alone in the world. Jesus thought about the day He came over the hill to see John baptizing in the river. He remembered the Spirit telling Him how He would stand out as a light to attract a world of sinners. This had two effects on His life. Love and beauty to those He would save. Rejection, hate, and bitterness from those who refused to change. A light to guide in the darkness is also an easy target for the enemy’s arrows. It was a light that would forever shine.

 

Jesus’ prayer was suddenly interrupted by noises in the distance. Looking behind Himself, He saw a long trail of torches and lanterns traveling up the side of the hill. He knew who they were. It seemed so fitting. All these years they rejected His light. Now they seek Him using their own form of light. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look–the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

 

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