Denying Jesus Matthew 26:30-35

Matthew 26:30-35

Introduction: Before we consider the disciples’ denying Jesus, I think it’s particularly important that we notice the end of v. 32 ,  “but after I am raised up I will go before you to Galilee.”

  • Not as a further indictment against them
  • But to see the gracious assurance of Jesus
    • First—resurrection
    • And second, if that’s not enough (it should be!)  there’s a reunion scheduled—even after you’ve denied me and left me to die alone, I will meet you in Galilee
  • It’s important to see that because:
    • We tend to make faith into a consumer type relationship—we do this for Jesus, he does that for us
    • But over and again we see it’s Jesus’ work for us, and it’s Jesus’ kindness to us that sustains and strengthens us
    • Even after Jesus is raised, giving his disciples ample reason to believe, and the facts on which their faith could stand on its own, if it was truly up to them, Jesus says I will meet you in Galilee.
      • The implication is clear:  Jesus will strengthen them for the journey ahead
      • Or explicitly Jesus had already told them:  “without me you can do nothing”

Today we’re reminded that Jesus is our strength, turn to him, you might deny him, in fact you have already denied him and you will again, but turn to him.  Be renewed in him, be strengthened by him.  1.) the Prophecy (Zech. 13:7);  2.) Jesus our Representative—he does what we can’t;  3.) Believing in Jesus’ work; 4.) Believing and Living as if Jesus were true;  5.)  Applications

  1. The Prophecy:  Zechariah 13:7  “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
    1. In the context of Zechariah this was “barely comprehensible” to his audience (Ian Duguid)
    1. Began in 12:10 as a lament of Israel’s sin by God who loves them
      1. “when they look on me, on him who they have pierced”
      1. Metaphorical piercing—as a Father’s heart is wounded when his child falls off the rails
      1. Of course, it became a literal piercing in Jesus
    1. Proceeds to speak of Spirit borne repentance
      1. ““On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.” Zech 13:1
      1. The fountain of cleansing resulting from the “spirit of grace” poured out in 12:10
    1. This prophecy was given to Israel after the exile
      1. A time looking forward to total restoration
      1. But like generations before, they had begun to fall away from their God
    1. Jesus uses Zech. 13:7 to tell them this is the path that HE HAS TO TAKE, he has to be punished by God
      1. The Good Shepherd will be struck by God himself
      1. Like Isaiah 53:10 “it was the will of the Lord to crush him”
  2. Jesus our representative
    1. Jesus’ work for us is a biblical pattern
      1. As Zechariah said, God will strike the shepherd
      1. The disciples aren’t understanding this yet
        1. They wouldn’t get it until after Pentecost
        1. We, however, have the further advantage of the rest of the NT
          1. Which demonstrates how much the apostles ended up “getting it”—because they wrote it
          1. Jesus kept the law for us
          1. Jesus died fulfilling the law we broke
          1. Jesus was raised as a vindication of who he is and what he did
          1. His resurrection is the power of our regenerate lives for God now—believers live by and in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, the Spirit who brought Jesus from the dead, brings us out of the death of sin and into newness of life.
    1. Jesus did this for us as our representative:  The pattern of a God given representative
      1. David vs. Goliath (1 Sam. 17)
        1. God’s anointed king (1 Sam. 16) does what the populist king (Saul) can’t do
      1. Isaiah 63—the approach
        1. V. 5  I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.
      1. In these cases of David and the Servant of Isaiah 63 the representative isn’t the sacrifice, he is the conqueror
      1. This is also part of the NT witness to Jesus’ work
      1. In fact, Jesus conquers by being the sacrifice—1 John 3:8  “the reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
    1. Jesus is headed to the cross—the Good Shepherd is going to be struck by the Father
      1. He will suffer and die for sin
        1. That’s what the disciples will see
        1. They’ll be afraid for their friend
        1. They’ll be afraid for themselves and abandon him
      1. He will also fight and be victorious
        1. In that vein of thought the French Reformed Church, “For you, little child, Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered.  For you he entered the shadow of Gethsemane and endured the horror of Calvary.  For you he uttered the cry, “It is finished!”  For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and there he intercedes.  For you little child, even though you do not yet know it.  But in this way the word of the gospel becomes true.  “We love him, because he first loved us.”
          1. He has fought, he has suffered—and he won!
        1. “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
    1. The disciples CAN’T go to the cross
      1. Jesus is their savior, Jesus is their strength! 
      1. There will be a crisis of faith in the next 24 hours for the disciples—they will all deny Jesus
      1. The end of v. 35 “and all the disciples said the same”
  3. Believing in Jesus’ work:  Jesus’ warning in the form of a future fact:  “You will all fall away”
    1. When they fell away, it was sinful
      1. But it was ok in terms of salvation—Salvation is from God
        1. Jonah 2:9 “Salvation belongs to the Lord”
        1. Psalm  51:12 “restore to me the joy of your salvation
      1. Jesus will accomplish salvation by his faithfulness, even though his disciples deny him in what is the central act of Jesus’ work in securing our salvation
      1. The disciples’ faith doesn’t include their death
    1. They don’t have to go to the cross, they just have to believe Jesus’ words
      1. That he is the savior, that his life and death are what saves sinners
      1. Just like David and Israel
      1. The nation of Israel didn’t have to defeat Goliath—they just had to trust God would use David to do it for them
      1. Israel just had to be there, to believe, and then to follow
      1. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.  And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.
      1. The disciples all fell away that night, but after the resurrection, they followed, just like the Israelites pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, the disciples pursued God’s calling to the ends of the earth.
    1. Jesus’ work saves his people, not their faith
      1. He is able
      1. He is worthy
      1. We aren’t either
    1. Jesus’ work for us doesn’t mean we don’t play a part—that they would deny Jesus doesn’t make it ok
      1. They sinned when they denied Jesus
  4. Believing and Living as if Jesus is true:  Jesus’ Work isn’t our excuse—we can’t save ourselves, but there’s plenty for us to do
    1. We must have a willful determination to believe, think, and live as believers
      1. When we fail to think correctly we deny Jesus’ authority over our innermost being
        1. We’re saying, “He’s able to save us in our souls, but he’s not able to change those souls
      1. The same is true for our living
      1. Sinning is denying Jesus—but he will meet us in our own Galilees!
        1. It represents a return to where our savior is
    1. We need to Believe and think as believers.
      1. God’s Word is true
      1. What more do we need than to know God gave us his spoken word in creation, his written word in the Bible, and the Incarnate Word in Jesus?
      1. What we need is to conform our thoughts to God’s Word
      1. 2 Cor. 10:3-5  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
      1. If your thoughts are captive to Jesus they aren’t doubting thoughts, they aren’t denying thoughts—they are sure footed and stable on the Rock of your salvation!
    1. We need to live as believers are called to live
      1. 1 Peter 1:13-16  Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
        1. See how Peter begins—“prepare your minds for action”
          1. Obedience begins with belief, with taking your thoughts captive
          1. Thought captivity begins and ends by the Holy Spirit who brought repentance, like Zechariah talked about in the fountain of Jerusalem “to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness”
      1. But some will say, if Jesus paid it all, then don’t I have freedom in Christ?  Yes, you absolutely have freedom in Christ!  But you have to define that freedom.  Freedom in Christ is freedom from sin, which means freedom to be at peace with the Holy God of heaven! 
      1. Gal. 5:1  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 13) For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
        1. Freedom is Obedience to God’s law of love
        1. The greatest commandments:  love God and love others
        1. Denying these commandments is denying Jesus
      1. An important aspect of holiness is that holiness is more than obedience.
        1. Holiness is part obedience and part religious communion
          1. Devotions?   For holiness’ sake
          1. Worship?  For holiness’ sake
        1. Religious communion with God reminds us that holiness is all of grace—because communion with the Holy God of heaven should be impossible for sinners on earth
          1. Religious communion reminds us that even our obedience is from grace.
          1. Obedience only possible b/c of the new birth
  5. Applying this
    1. Jesus gives grace.  More correctly:  Jesus is God’s grace—we can see this by examining a supposed contradiction between what Jesus already said about those who will deny him. 
    1. Luke 12:8-9  “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.
      1. He doesn’t contradict himself by showing his disciples grace and forgiveness
      1. It’s the reason he came—“I came to fulfill the law and the prophets”
      1. He fulfilled the law and prophets.  We should interpret “the law and the prophets” to mean God’s revealed Word and the requirement of God’s righteous standard.  Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement of God—he did that to save his people from their sins.
      1. That’s what the angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “Mary, your betrothed wife, will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.”
      1. But grace isn’t the same as leniency—there is a danger in denying your savior, but it’s best to understand Luke 12:8-9, “the one who denies me before men”, as an overall way of life and not a moment—or in Peter’s case, three moments even in time.
      1. In Jesus there is grace to cover every sin—even the sin of falling away
        1. Each of the disciples fell away—they all said they wouldn’t
        1. V. 35 “all the disciples said the same”
        1. Imagine how terrible, guilty, and just dirty they felt as Jesus’ body was taken off the cross and buried
    1. Jesus’ grace is more than just restorative and forgiveness—it is the grace of strength
      1. Remember your savior-the bread of life who feeds your faith promised to be with you always, turn to him and trust him above the fear you might have for acknowledging him before a dying world
      1. The world will hate you like it hated him—Jesus prayed for us all to prepare us, to guard us against the hatred of the world.  He prayed that we might be given the strength of heaven for the journey of faith.
      1.  Jesus prayed to the father “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
      1. In fact, this aspect of Jesus’ work for us—Jesus’ prayers for us is precisely what saved Peter final apostasy.
        1. Luke 22:31-32  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
        1. On our part—we can pray and ask God to strengthen us with the power of Jesus’ prayers.  We can remember that our Savior is deeply, intimately concerned for our faith and the well-being of his people.
    1. Does the admonition to not deny Jesus really have anything to do with obedience?
      1. Yes, it does, because true obedience comes from the heart.  You can’t have heart obedience without the solid foundation of faith that will acknowledge Christ before me and then work itself out in obedience in good works.
      1. In this direction, we apply Jesus’ grace first by correctly judging ourselves. 
        1. By being very, very scrutinizing, judge yourself against the perfect ethical standard of God’s law to find your sin.
        1. The world will say not to judge yourself so hard, to give yourself a break, to take it easy on yourself, to give yourself some grace.  But that’s the problem—you’re giving yourself some grace, rather than finding Jesus’ grace.
        1. Be exacting, be excruciating, and be demanding in your self-examination so that it will drive you Jesus again and again, for God’s true grace.  There you will find the strength of Heaven to carry on in faith and obedience.  Amen.

The Nicene Creed

478 I Love to Tell the Story

Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  The love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, amen.