Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Death & Burial of Jesus - Luke 23:44-56

Jesus Dies
44:-49

Starting at noon, and ending at three, the day went dark. This is a literal event. It really got dark. It was a crucifixion miracle, God supernaturally darkened the sun. It was not a natural occurrence. It lasted three hours. A full eclipse lasts a few minutes. It happened near Passover, which is celebrated at Full Moon, when the Moon is on the wrong side of the Earth to cause an eclipse.

It is also an event referenced by secular sources. Tertuullian, sometime around 200 A.D., wrote about it, saying “wonder is related in your own annals and is preserved in your archives to this day. Eusebius quoted a Romans historian, Phlegon, who described a day of extraordinary darkness at this time.

It was also a symbolic event: it showed God’s judgment and wrath as Jesus bore it for us. Amos 5:18 says “Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD: It is darkness and not light…is not the day of the LORD darkness and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?”

Amos 8:9-10 says:
And on that day, declares the Lord God,
I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into mourning
and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on every waist
and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.

Zephaniah 1:15 called the day of the Lord a day of wrath that is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.

The curtain of the temple was also torn “in two”. (45) This is also literal occurrence with a symbolic meaning. This was the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies). No one but the High Priest could enter into the Most Holy Place, where God’s presence dwelt. But now that curtain is torn, symbolizing that men and women could now, through the work of Christ, come directly into the presence of God without the mediation of an earthly priest. That is because Jesus made the last sacrifice that would ever be needed for sins. As Hebrews 9:26 says, he appeared once for all to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Those who say you can “lose” your salvation effectively deny the sufficiency of Christ’s death, his sacrifice, to pay the penalty of our sins. Those who say it takes works in addition to Christ’s death to pay for our sins do the same.

This was the second crucifixion miracle. The curtain was 30 feet wide and 30 feet high, made of heavy material. It was tightly woven. No man could tear it with his hands.

Jesus died then crying out “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. He quoted Psalm 31:5 almost verbatim. He died, willingly laying down his life, as he had the authority to do. (John 10:17-18). By calling God “Father”, he showed that, even suffering God’s wrath for us, he did not let go of his sonship, his intimate relationship with the Father. Although Jesus had the authority to lay his life down and pick it up again, he still prayed it to commit himself to God, knowing the Father would do all he promised to do.

It is a good example for us at death, committing ourselves to God in trust that he will do as he promised, bringing us into heaven to be with him for eternity.

At death, the human body ceases to function, but the spirit remains. The spirit of the believer goes to be in the presence of God. Ecclesiates 12:7 says “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it.”

That is why Paul could say he was torn between life an death, for death meant to depart and be with Christ. (Philippians 1:21-23) He also said if we are home in the body we are away from the Lord, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) Jesus’ human spirit went to the Father, his body having ceased to function, having died.

The Aftermath - Reactions
23:47-49

When Jesus died, people reacted to his death and the way he died.

The third crucifixion miracle is the reaction of the centurion. This hardened soldier and leader praised God and declared Jesus’ innocence. (47) By witnessing Jesus’ death and the accompanying events, this man’s heart was changed from executioner to believer. Mark 15:39 tells us the centurion proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God. This was not a physical miracle, but a spiritual miracle.

The crowd of people who came to watch the “spectacle”, evidently to be entertained, went home beating their breasts. This is an expression of sorrow or anger, indicating that the people believed Jesus was innocent and had been killed unjustly.

Finally, Luke noted that two groups of people stood off at a distance and watched. They were they women who followed Jesus during his ministry and his “acquaintances”. That is the first time that word has been applied to those around Jesus. It is not clear who they were, but they were at least people who knew Jesus. The NIV in fact says “all those who knew him”. It might have been those like Nicodemus who were not disciples, but either believed in Jesus or were impressed by him. It may have included the disciples.

Standing at a distance indicates they were still afraid to identify with Jesus. Let us not stand far off. Let us stand up for Jesus in word and in deed.

Jesus Buried
24:50-56

These verses tell how Jesus was buried after he died on the cross.

The burial was accomplished by a man named Joseph. He was a man of some standing since he was a member of the council, the Sanhedrin. (50) He also had access to Pilate, the governor, and was able to obtain Jesus’ body. Luke wrote that he was good and righteous. He had not consented when the Sanhedrin voted to put Jesus to death. (51) That had to have been an unpopular decision.

Luke also wrote that Joseph was “looking for the kingdom of God”. (51) This seems means he was a believer, especially if when we consider Matthew 27:57 which calls him a disciple of Jesus.

Joseph got Pilate’s permission to take care of Jesus’ body, then he took it down from the cross, wrapped it in a linen shroud, and placed it in a tomb made of stone. This would be a rich man’s tomb and, indeed, Matthew 27 says Joseph was rich. It is likely that this tomb was intended to be Joseph’s own tomb, but he used it to bury Jesus. Isaiah 53:9 says they made his grave…with a rich man his death.”

It was fitting that the tomb had never been used. No body had been placed in it. That would seem normal to us, but at that time, bodies were placed on shelves in tombs, but when the flesh had decayed from the bones, the bones were gathered and placed into a box.

In the Old Testament, nothing used for worshipping or ministering to God could be used for anything else. And it is that way at Jesus’ burial; no one had ever used the tomb. (53)

Luke placed a time stamp on these activities. It was Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath. Preparations had to be made on the day before the Sabbath since one could not work on the Sabbath. Since the Sabbath started Friday at sundown, these things happened on Friday afternoon.

Verse 55 begins the telling of the story of the women who followed Jesus and wanted to take care of his body. You have to love these women for their devotion to Jesus. And it is so typical of women, thinking even in sorrow of the things that need to be done, even unpleasant things.

The women followed Joseph and his helpers to the tomb so that they would know where it was. They observed the placement of the body, so they would know which one it was. Jesus’ body would be covered in a shroud and they would expect that other bodies might be there also. In other words, they made sure they knew where Jesus’ body was so they could take care of it. They knew they would not have time to do this before the Sabbath began, and they would not violate the Sabbath.

In that day, the Jews prepared bodies by placing spices and ointments on the body and in the shroud. After the women made sure they knew where the body was, they went home and prepared the spices. (56) They got all this done before sundown, and then observed the Sabbath.

Why did Luke go into this detail about Jesus’ burial? As a historian, Luke wanted to record all of the relevant details for those who would read his gospel to learn about Jesus. As a theologian, Luke, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wanted to record that Jesus was indeed dead and buried. Unless Jesus is buried, he cannot be resurrected.

You see this in Paul’s confession in 1 Corinthians 15. He called it a matter of first importance that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raise on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

It is still of first importance that Jesus died for us. It is still of first importance that he was buried. Next, we will see the importance of his resurrection.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Today, John Piper posted on one of the passages we studied Sunday.

Eleventh-hour Breakthroughs
By John Piper
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

One of the greatest hope-killers is that you have tried for so long to change, and have not succeeded.

You look back and think: What’s the use? Even if I could experience a breakthrough, there would be so little time left to live in my new way that it wouldn’t make much difference compared to so many years of failure.

The former robber (the thief on the cross next to Jesus) lived for another hour or so after his conversion. Then he died. He was changed. He lived on the cross as a new man with new attitudes and actions (no more reviling). But 99.99% of his life was wasted. Did the last couple hours of newness matter?

They mattered infinitely. This former robber, like all of us, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of his life. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). How will his life testify in that day to his new birth and his union with Christ? How will his life confirm his newness in Christ?

The last hours will tell the story. This man was new. His faith was real. He is truly united to Christ. Christ’s righteousness is his. His sins are forgiven.

That’s what the final hours will proclaim at the last judgment. He is changed! And his change mattered. It was, and it will be, a beautiful testimony to the power of God’s grace and the reality of his faith and his union with Christ.

Now back to our struggle with change. I am not saying that struggling believers are unsaved like the robber was. I am simply saying that the last years and the last hours of life matter.

If in the last 1% of our lives, we can get a victory over some long-standing sinful habit or hurtful defect in our personality, it will be a beautiful testimony now to the power of grace; and it will be an added witness (not the only one) at the last judgment to our faith in Christ and our union with him.

Take heart, struggler. Keep asking, seeking, knocking. Keep looking to Christ. If God gets glory by saving robbers in the eleventh hour, he surely has his purposes why he has waited till now to give you the breakthrough you have sought for years.



Desiring God  /  PO Box 2901, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

“The guiding factor for the development of Christian doctrine is the Bible itself! The text of Scripture provides the grounds and, most important, the limits for this development over time. Rather than bringing in outside influences (such as tradition), we recognize that no one has ever plumbed the depths of God's revelation contained in Scripture; no one has ever come close to exhausting what is to be found in its pages. Therefore, real development of Christian doctrine is simply our ever-increasing understanding of the Word. It is a delving deeper and deeper into the truths of the Word.”
― James R. White, Scripture Alone: Exploring the Bible's Accuracy, Authority, and Authenticity

Monday, February 05, 2018

God does nothing that does not work for his glory and for our good. "Good" means "conformed to the likeness of his Son". 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

KILLING JESUS - LUKE 23:18-49

Back To Pilate
23:13-25

Since Pilate was now faced with having to pass judgment, he told the Jews he found him innocent of the charges. He agreed to punish him and release him since he had done nothing deserving death. (15) Romans could punish the innocent to a degree, to warn them to be more careful.

The Jews, however, wanted Jesus crucified and Barabbas released. They were loud and insistent. Pilate tried three times to declare Jesus innocent. Since one of the duties of a governor, like Pilate, was to keep the peace, he did not want a riot on his hands. So, he agreed to release Barabbas and turned Jesus over for crucifixion. Luke does not explain, but the Romans had a tradition of releasing a prisoner at Passover to gain favor with the Jews.

We know, of course, that Jesus never sinned. (Hebrews 4:15) He did not violate Roman law either. Therefore, Pilate declared him innocent. Yet, his own people, the Jews, called for his death. Isaiah prophesied this, saying “By oppression and judgment he was taken away”. (Isaiah 53:8)

It is an interesting situation: Barabbas was guilty of the charges against him, yet was freed. Jesus was innocent, but was executed. It is a good example of the thinking of the mind darkened by sin, as set out in Romans 1.

It is also interesting to see how Barabbas’ situation and ours are similar. Barabbas was rightly facing execution for his crimes. But, Jesus took his place. Jesus died in his place. Because of this, Barabbas went free. His crimes were forgiven. Jesus, however, was condemned. Similarly, we are guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and worthy of death. (Romans 6:23) But Jesus died for us, setting us free and forgiving our sins.

Charles Dickens used this idea in his book, The Tale of Two Cities. Sidney Carton put on the clothes of Charles Darnay and went to the guillotine in his place. He died that Darnay might live.  

Crucifixion
23:26-38

Luke does not record the scourging Jesus received. Mark wrote that Jesus was scourged. (Mark 15:15) It involved whipping with a leather whip made of several strips of leather, with sharp pieces of bone attached to the ends. It was painful, stripped away skin, and caused a lot of bleeding. That is why Jesus was not able to carry the cross. They made Simon of Cyrene carry it and walk behind Jesus. (26) It was the custom to make the criminal carry his cross as a final humiliation before death, but Jesus could not do it.

Not everyone called for the death of Jesus. The group of priests and scribes did, along with a crowd they likely gathered for the purpose. But others followed Jesus mourning and lamenting. (27) This involved load moaning and crying. The NIV says they “wailed”. These were people who loved and followed Jesus, now mourning his ill treatment and death. Many of these were women, for he addressed them as “daughters of Jerusalem” (28)

But Jesus told them not to grieve for him, but for themselves in the coming judgment. (28) The phrase “the days are coming” refers to the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, as a judgment of God. Jesus said to weep for themselves and their children, because they faced this terrible judgment. In those days, it would be better to be barren and not have babies, because the suffering and death would be so bad. (29)

Those who faced this destruction would call for the mountains to fall on them because it would be better than to face the death and destruction that was coming. Jesus seems to have referred to Hosea 10:8. Hosea said “The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. Thorn and thistle shall grow up on their altars, and they shall say to the mountains, ‘cover us’ and to the hills, ‘fall on us’.

Hosea warned Israel of the coming of the Assyrians to destroy the northern kingdom and take its people into captivity. That was similar to Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and Jesus’ Jewish followers would likely have understood the reference.

That language is used again in Revelation 6:16, when the kings of earth seek refuge from the wrath of God at the end of the age.

Jesus ended his prophecy with a saying “if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it was dry”. It is a way of saying, if you think this is terrible, wait until you see how bad it is at the destruction of Jerusalem, because it will be worse.

Jesus wanted the people to weep not only tears for the judgment that would come, but tears of repentance, that they might be saved and avoid the ultimate judgment.

Jesus was not the only one going to his death. Two criminals were also going. He was literally numbered with the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12) They were taken to a place called “the Skull”. If you read the King James Version, it says “Calvary”. There are numerous hymns that refer to Calvary also. That word is a transliteration of the Latin word “Calvaraie”. The King James translators apparently opted to transliterate a word from the Latin Vulgate rather than translate from the Greek.

Jesus was nailed to the cross with spikes through his hands and feet. As David prophesied in Psalm 22:16, “they have pierced my hands and feet”.

When Jesus was placed on the cross, he prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Why would Jesus seek the forgiveness of his killers? First of all, it is part of his mission. He came to save the lost, dying for sins, so that men and women can be saved.  J. C. Ryle wrote “as soon as the blood of the Great sacrifice began to flow, the Great High Priest began to intercede”.  Second, he knew they did not fully understand what they were doing. Third, he set an example for us. He told us to love our enemies and be merciful. (Luke 6:35)

While Jesus hung on the cross dying, the mocking continued. Some gambled to obtain his garments. (34) This fulfilled Psalm 22:18, “they divide my garments among them, for my clothing they cast lots”.

The rulers, the members of the Sanhedrin, also mocked. They said “let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One”. They were making fun of him for claiming he was the Messiah since he was dying rather than conquering. This fulfilled Psalm 22:6-7:
“But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads:
He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him reside him, for he delights in him!”

Fortunately for us, Jesus did not save himself. Rather, he died to save us.

The Roman soldiers also mocked Jesus. (36) They also called on him to save himself. They mocked him for being the king of the Jews, for they knew there was no king in Israel, only Roman rule. They were saying, in effect, “some king you are; we are killing you”. Yet, the sign was true: Jesus was the king of the Jews.

They offered him sour wine to drink. This may have been to keep him from dying of dehydration, prolonging his suffering. It also fulfilled Psalm 69:21: “for my thirst they gave sour wine to drink”.

All of these fulfilled prophesies confirm for us that Jesus is God’s anointed one, the Messiah or Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, who is savior and lord.

The last person Luke records as mocking is one of the criminals being crucified with him. He also yelled at Jesus, challenging him to save himself if he is the Christ”. This is a terrible display of human hate. Here the man is dying as a criminal, yet mocking Jesus for dying.

The other criminal did not mock. Rather he believed in Jesus, and rebuked his friend. He acknowledged the justice of his own death, but the innocence of Jesus. He said his friend should fear God since his death was imminent.

To Jesus, the man said “remember me when you come into your kingdom”. (42) This is a confession of faith. It shows his belief that Jesus is indeed the Son of God who will reign over all things.

Jesus acknowledged the man’s faith and confession. He said that man would be with him in Paradise that very day. “Paradise” is another way of saying “heaven’. (43)

This bears out the truth of Jesus’ words spoken earlier: “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)

It is always this way. One hears the gospel and reacts with derision. Another hears, believes, and is saved.

Jesus Dies
44:-49

Starting at noon, and ending at three, the day went dark. This is a literal event. It really got dark. It was also a symbolic event: it showed God’s judgment and wrath as Jesus bore it for us. Amos 5:18 says “Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD: It is darkness and not light…is not the day of the LORD darkness and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?”

The curtain of the temple was also torn “in two”. (45) This was the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies). No one but the High Priest could enter into the Most Holy Place, where God’s presence dwelt. But now that curtain is torn, symbolizing that men and women could now, through the work of Christ, come directly into the presence of God without the mediation of an earthly priest.

Jesus died then crying out “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. At death, the human body ceases to function, but the spirit remains. The spirit of the believer goes to be in the presence of God. Ecclesiates 12:7 says “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it.”

That is why Paul could say he was torn between life an death, for death meant to depart and be with Christ. (Philippians 1:21-23) He also said if we are home in the body we are away from the Lord, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) Jesus’ human spirit went to the Father, his body having ceased to function, having died.

The Aftermath - Reactions
23:47-49

When Jesus died, people reacted to his death and the way he died. A centurion was there, probably as the leader of the group that carried out the crucifixion. He said “certainly this man was innocent”. (47) He praised God, evidently for the manner in which Jesus handled his death.

The crowd of people who came to watch the “spectacle”, evidently to be entertained, went home beating their breasts. This is an expression of sorrow or anger, indicating that the people believed Jesus was innocent and had been killed unjustly.

Finally, Luke noted that two groups of people stood off at a distance and watched. They were they women who followed Jesus during his ministry and his “acquaintances”. That is the first time that word has been applied to those around Jesus. It is not clear who they were, but they were at least people who knew Jesus. The NIV in fact says “all those who knew him”. It might have been those like Nicodemus who were not disciples, but either believed in Jesus or were impressed by him. It may have included the disciples.

Standing at a distance indicates they were still afraid to identify with Jesus. Let us not stand far off. Let us stand up for Jesus in word and in deed.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

JESUS BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN - LUKE 22:63-71

ocking Jesus
22:63-65

Those who held Jesus in custody beat him. These were probably the temple officers. Remember that Jesus has not been to trial yet, much less convicted. Yet, they are punishing him. Their hatred, driven by the devil, leads them to violate the law they claim to protect.

Jesus was also mocked. To mock is to ridicule, make fun of, or parody. Here they blindfolded Jesus and challenged him to prophesy by telling them who hit him. Luke says they said many other things which blasphemed him. They spoke with irreverence to him and about him. Jesus, as God, is to be reverenced. Anything else is blasphemy.

The beatings and the mocking were part of Jesus’ suffering for us.
His suffering was not limited to the cross.  And because of his suffering, he can sympathize with our suffering.

They also fulfilled scripture. Isaiah 53:4 said he would be stricken, smitten, afflicted, wounded, and crushed.

There is much blasphemy that occurs today. Jesus is mocked in parodies and sarcasm, people use his name and his title as swear words. He is blasphemed by those who deny he is God or ridicule the idea that he existed.

For example, consider this diatribe against God written by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion. He called God “a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”. I do not want to stand near that guy at the judgment.

Jesus did not respond to this abuse. But, the day will come will blasphemers and mockers will be held accountable. Everyone of them will bow before Jesus. Every mocking mouth will confess that Jesus is Lord. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Jesus at the Sanhedrin
22:66-71

When day came, the elders of Israel assembled. Trials were supposed to held during the day. Here it appears they did it at first light, possibly to avoid scrutiny from the people.

This assembly of elders, along with the chief priests and scribes, was called the Sanhedrin. Although all cities in Israel had a sanhedrin, this may have been the Great Sanhedrin that met in Jerusalem and was the final authority in religious matters. It originally had the power to impose the death penalty, but the Romans took that away in 30 A.D.

The Sanhedrin historically met at the Temple, but here they meet at the house of the High Priest. This may have been another attempt at secrecy.

Luke did not record all the proceedings before the trial. Matthew and John record those. Luke focused on the trial.

The charge appears to have been blasphemy, because they asked him if he was the Christ, or Messiah. Was he the descendant of David who would come and rule over God’s people?

Jesus first answered by saying they would not believe what he said nor would they respond if he asked them the question. He was pointing out the futility of the trial, knowing the outcome was already determined. That outcome had been determined in the pre-trial proceedings that had occurred during the night.

Jesus had prophesied the outcome previously. In 9:22, he said he would be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes. That is exactly who put him on trial. He also said he would be rejected by those elders and killed.

In 17:22, he said he would be rejected by “this generation”. This term is often used to mean the leaders of the people at the time.

After pointing out the futility of the trial, Jesus answered the question. He did so by referring to well known scriptures. He said “from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God”. (69)

Daniel 7:13-14 tells of one like a son of man who will come to the Ancient of Days, God the Father, and receive an eternal kingdom. Psalm 110:1 says “The LORD (Yahweh) says to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Son of Man in Daniel 7 is a divine ruler and judge. The Jews understood that. Jesus was claiming this glory for himself: one who was human, but also divine, who will rule and judge even those who were accusing him.

This coronation would happen soon. Jesus said “from now on…”

Scripture continues to teach this truth. Hebrews 1:3 says “…After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”
At the right hand of God he rules. 1 Peter 4:5 says Jesus will return and judge the living and the dead.

So, the answer of Jesus was “yes, I am the Christ”.

The council fully understood the scripture references and what Jesus meant by his answer. They challenged him to confess in plain terms, saying “are you the Son of God, then?”

Jesus replied, “you say that I am”. (70) It is a way of saying “yes”. The council took it that way, as a confession, so no further proceedings were needed.

And so, what Jesus said was true: they would not believe if he answered. Despite his miracles, his teaching, the affirmation of the Father, the testimony of Mary of what the angel told her, and Jesus' own words, they would not believe.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

JESUS DENIED & BETRAYED - LUKE 22:39-62

Jesus Praying
22:39-46

After the supper, Jesus took the disciples out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives to a place to pray. Luke does not name the place, but the other gospel writers call it the Garden of Gethsemane. He had been doing this regularly, since Luke says “as was his custom”. (39) Luke 21:37 says he taught in the temple by day and went out of the city at night and lodged on the Mount of Olives (Olivet).

He left the disciples with an instruction to pray. Specifically, he told them to pray they would not fall into temptation. A long and difficult night was coming, as well as several difficult days, and they needed to be strong to withstand the temptation to fall away. (40) This is the same instruction he gave them in the model prayer, to pray that God would not lead them into temptation. (Matthew 6:13) It is a worthy prayer for us also.

Jesus himself went further into the garden and prayed alone. The normal posture of prayer was to stand, but Jesus knelt. This indicates the stress and agony he felt. He asked the God “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done”. (42)

We can tell from his prayer that Jesus knew what was coming and that it would be bad. We knew this also because he had told the disciples several times that he would be killed. And he knew the Old Testament prophecies of his death.

Jesus asked, if it was the Father’s will, that the “cup” be removed from him. This is Old Testament imagery. The cup is a metaphor for one’s destiny, but particularly for experiencing God’s wrath.

For example, Psalm 16:5 says “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” Isaiah 51:17 says “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you have have drunk from the hand of the LORD, the cup of his wrath.” In Jeremiah 25:15, God told Jeremiah to “take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it”.

On the cross, Jesus would bear the wrath of God for our sins. He bore the Father’s wrath so that we would not be required to do so. Romans 5:9 says “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

That wrath of God will be poured out on all those who are not in Christ at the end of this age. Revelation 20:15 says anyone who’s name is not found in the Book of Life is thrown into the lake of fire. That means hell, the place of eternal suffering.

But, those who are in Christ, will not suffer God’s wrath, because Jesus did so in our place (“for us”). “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us…” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

So, Jesus knew the cross would be terribly painful to his body. But he also knew bearing the wrath of his Father, with whom he had always been one, would be painful and terrifying. He was in agony. (44) The Greek word anoxia means a bitter striving in a fierce conflict. He was in a violent conflict as his human nature rebelled against the suffering to come.

J. C. Ryle wrote: “How can we account for the deep agony which Our Lord underwent in the garden? What reason can we assign for the intense suffering, both mentally and bodily, which He manifestly endured? There is one one satisfactory answer. It was caused by the burden of a world’s imputed sin”.

Yet, as bad as Jesus knew his suffering and death would be, he submitted to the Father’s will. He struggled, in his human nature, because no human wants to suffer pain and death. He struggled, but he submitted to the will of the Father.

In this we see the truth of Hebrews 4:15:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

We also are called to suffer. Sadly, in a world where many preach that we come to Jesus and get all good things we want, the mark of a disciple is the willingness to suffer for Jesus. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake… (Philippians 1:29) Like Job, we say “Though he slay me, I will hope in him”. That is the example of Jesus. It is also the instruction from Jesus, who said  we should pray “your will be done”. (Matthew 6:10)

The Father’s will was that Jesus die. Therefore, he did not grant the request to remove the cup from Jesus. But he did send an angel to strengthen Jesus. (43) Then Jesus prayed even more earnestly. He was so anguished that he sweated blood. We are not told what he prayed, but it was likely for strength to finish his mission, bear his suffering, and bring glory to the Father.

Think of the love Jesus has for us. He endured this horror for us. That must be why Luke recorded it in such detail. Jesus suffered for us, so that we would not suffer the wrath of God.

Realize that the Father may not remove every trial from you when you ask.
He will be with you and help you. He may even send an angel!
“Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

When Jesus finished praying, he went back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He must have felt terribly alone. They had already begun to fail him. He told them to wake up and pray that they would not enter into temptation. (46)

Jesus Arrested
22:47-54a

It was too late for the disciples to pray. While Jesus was speaking, Judas arrived with a crowd. (47) The crowd included the chief priests, the officers of the temple, and some elders. (52)

Judas attempted to identify Jesus to the crowd by kissing him. This was a standard greeting among friends and family, even among men, in the Middle East. It was also a common way for a disciple to greet his master. But Jesus would not allow it. In fact, he challenged him, saying “would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss”? (48)

It was such a big betrayal. Jesus chose Judas as one of the Twelve. He taught him, traveled with him, performed miracles in his presence, saved him from a storm, washed his feet, and lived with him for three years. Judas knew where to find Jesus because he had been there with him. Jesus and Judas had been master and disciple, but also friends.

The disciples woke up and thought about the previous discussion regarding swords. They asked if they should strike with the sword. Peter, here just called “one of them”, struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. (50) Of course it was Peter, always impetuous, but also wanting to show Jesus he would not deny him, but fight for him.

Jesus stopped the fight, saying “no more of this”. He was going to submit to the authorities, for that was the Father’s will. He also set the tone for his disciples, not fighting, but even healing the servant who was injured. (51) Christianity is not about fighting, it is about suffering for the sake of the Lord and the gospel.

Jesus did rebuke the crowd, though. He mentioned that they came after him with weapons when he was in the temple everyday and could have been arrested. This was his way of pointing out that they were afraid of the crowds who respected Jesus, so they came at night and secretly.

His strongest condemnation, though, was pointing out more than their cowardice. He said their power came from Satan. It was their hour and the power of darkness, the devil. (53)

The New Testament is full of light versus darkness metaphors. Darkness is evil and the forces of Satan in the world. That darkness remains today and is our enemy. Paul wrote that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12)

And so Jesus was seized. He was arrested and in custody. They brought him to the high priest’s house for a trial.

Peter Denies Jesus
 22:54b-62

When Jesus arrived at the house of the high priest, Caiaphas, the crowd sat down in the courtyard around a fire. It is likely there were too many people to get into the house, so only the leaders went in to report on the arrest of Jesus. Everyone else stayed in the courtyard.

Peter had trailed along behind the crowd. People noticed him. The first was a servant girl. She identified Peter as being with Jesus. Either she recognized Peter or recognized the he was a Galilean. Peter denied it, saying “woman, I do not know him”. (57) This was his first denial of Jesus.

Someone else also identified Peter as being one of the disciples, but Peter denied it. (58) Finally, a third person realized Peter was a Galilean and identified him. (59) A rooster crowed while Peter was still speaking.

At the moment, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. The New International Version reads “he looked straight at” Peter. Peter remembered the prophecy of Jesus regarding his betrayal. It had come true. Peter, confident he was strong and tough, had denied Jesus, too afraid to stand for him. Realizing what he had done, he went out and wept bitterly. (62)

The depth of Peter’s failure must have hurt him deeply. Peter believed, but he had not stood. All who love Jesus grieve deeply when they sin.  

Luke does not record it, but John shows us that Jesus restored Peter both to fellowship and to leadership. (John 21)

Thank God today for your salvation. If you have not been saved, believe on and follow him today, so that you avoid the wrath of God for eternity. And realize, even the believer who fails miserably will be restored and forgiven when he returns to Christ.