Strength In Weakness

Sunday, August 17, 2014, 8:18 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Matthew 26 (quoting selected verses in the NASB). I will summarize much of this.

Plot to Kill Jesus

Jesus prepared his disciples on several occasions for what was coming. He told them that he would be handed over for crucifixion. Yet, I don’t think they could possibly comprehend what all that meant, or that they even knew exactly what to think about it. Maybe they, like we do sometimes, were hoping that somehow the inevitable would never come. Perhaps, like Peter, they all hoped Jesus was wrong about this. Jesus could never completely prepare them for what was ahead, even though he had told them numerous times, and that was because their human emotions and minds could not take it in; could not comprehend it.

Yet, that did not change the reality of the situation. The chief priests and elders of the temple met together in the court of the high priest, and they plotted together how they might seize Jesus and kill him. As well, Judas, who was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, went to the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus for a price. Truly Judas sold himself as a slave to sin, and for what? What did he gain by his betrayal? Only the guilt of what he had done. And, it cost him his life.

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus celebrated the Passover with his twelve disciples. At this supper he announced to his disciples that one of them would betray him. They were grieved over the idea that one of their own would do such a thing, and they, each in turn, said “Surely not I, Lord?” They could not comprehend that they would do such a thing as this. Jesus even told them how they would know which one of them was the betrayer, but they still didn’t get it. When Judas said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.” I believe Jesus was telling him here that “Yes, you are the betrayer.” Even at that, the disciples did not understand that Judas had betrayed Jesus to death on a cross.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” ~ Matt. 26:26-28​

Jesus, symbolically, by the use of bread and wine, was again showing his disciples what was yet to come. He would be crucified on a cross, not because he had done anything wrong, but because he told people the truth about their sin and they hated him for it, and because it was in God’s divine plan for this to happen so that we would have salvation from sin. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he took all of our sins upon him, nailing them to the cross, and crucifying our sins with him. He took them with him to the grave, but then he rose from the dead victorious over hell, Satan, death and sin. Amen!

When we eat or drink something, metaphorically speaking, we ingest (absorb; take it in), chew (think about it) and swallow (believe; accept; buy into) it. Jesus was foretelling that he would pour out his blood so that we could be forgiven of our sins, but he was also asking of his followers that they accept and believe in him and in his sacrifice for our sins, and for them to participate with him in his death and resurrection in dying to the sins which once enslaved them, and in being resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus their Lord.

In Weakness

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too. ~ Matt. 26:31-35​

Then Jesus told them something that was even harder for them to handle. When he told them that one of them would betray him, they could easily reason in their own minds that certainly he was not talking about them. But this time he told them that all of them would fall away because of Him. That was a whole lot harder to swallow. There was no way out of this one. Yet Peter, who denied that Jesus should even have to go to the cross, also denied that it was possible that he just might perhaps deny his Lord and Savior. He thought surely he would be the one who would remain faithful even to death. All the disciples joined him in this declaration of unfailing devotion. Yet, Jesus’ words rang true, all the same. Peter did, in fact, deny Jesus 3 times, and even vehemently, and they all did, in fact, desert him.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He told most of his disciples to sit there while he went over to another spot to pray. He took with him Peter, James and John, the same three he took with him when he was transfigured on that mountain, and when he spoke with Moses and Elijah. He had just told them that he was going to be handed over for crucifixion, that he was going to shed his blood on the cross for the sins of many, that one of them would betray him to death, that one of them would deny him 3 times, and that all would desert him. He now told them his soul was deeply grieved, to the point of death, and he asked that they remain there and keep watch with him.

You would think that sleep would be the furthest thing from their minds at this time, and that they would have been faithful in standing with their Lord in prayer, but alas, they were weak, and fleshly, and they fell asleep, more than once. He told them: “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The third time they fell asleep while he was praying, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

In contrast to the disciples’ response to the reality of all that Jesus had just told them was going to take place, while they were sleeping, Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as you will.” He prayed something similar to this three times. The second time he prayed: “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Jesus Christ, although he was fully God, he was also fully man. He lived in a flesh body. He never sinned, but he was tempted in like manner as we are tempted. He was weak, and he got tired, and his flesh resisted the idea of all that he must suffer for you and for me so that we might go free. And, yet, he responded in faith and in perseverance, and he went to that cross for you and for me so that we could be free from the power of sin over our lives. Amen!

The Take Home

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day hated him, were jealous of him, and were threatened by him, and so they plotted his demise. A woman who loved Jesus anointed him with perfume as an act of love toward him, and yet the disciples criticized her for it, and decided she was wasting her time, her efforts, and the money spent on the perfume, because they didn’t get it. They entirely missed what was going on, and how very significant what she was doing for her Lord was in the scheme of things.

One of Jesus’ closest companions agreed to betray him for a price. Another denied him 3 times. Both denied the idea that they might even do such a thing, although the first knew he had already done so, but the other denied the notion that he might. All deserted him, even though they proclaimed undying faithfulness and devotion to him. The three he chose to stand with him in prayer could not even stay awake. Yet, Jesus, although he was weak and his flesh longed for a way to avoid what he must certainly go through for our salvation, yielded to his Father and submitted to His will.

We will all face times in our lives when our flesh will be weak, and when we will be tempted to yield to the desires of our flesh rather than to trust in our Lord Jesus and to submit to his will for our lives. During these times, Satan will try to attack us, to make us feel as though what we are doing is a waste, or that it is not necessary for us to do this, or to try to convince us that we don’t really have to go through this, i.e. that we don’t really have to go to the cross. He will try to convince us that, in our own flesh, we can rise above temptation because we are so wonderful, and that we would never stoop so low as to do what others have done. He will try to fill us with pride in our own accomplishments, or he will try to get us to deny our own sinfulness or our own propensity toward sin, or else to get us to hide our sin and to put on an air that we are living rightly when we are not. That is why we are cautioned in scripture to take heed if we think we stand, lest we fall.

Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we would no longer live to please ourselves but him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his return (See Tit. 2:11-14). He died so that we might die to the sins which once enslaved us, and so we can walk freely in his righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 4:17-24). If we continue to walk in the flesh, we have no part in him. We must walk in the Spirit and deny the passions of our flesh (See Ro. 6-8; 1 Jn. 1-5).

If we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are so righteous that we could never fall back into sin, we better be prepared for a fall. We need to guard our hearts against pride, jealousy, fits of rage, hatred, and the lies of Satan which come against us. We must put on the truth, and walk in the truth, and we must listen to our Lord and follow him in surrender. In our weakness, he is our strength. Amen! He will give us all we need to live holy lives.

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah / William Williams / John Hughes

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold.
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee. Amen.