SONG In Christ Alone
In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
READING Matthew 26 : 31-75
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
Peter Disowns Jesus
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
SERMON The Agony
In these last hours of Jesus life, who is going to stand by Him? Will the religious men… the elders… the teachers of the Law… the chief priests… the High priest? What about the disciples? Will Judas… Or the other disciples… James and John – or Peter? – desertion after desertion leaves Jesus utterly alone.
It starts in the Upper Room when Jesus told the disciples that they would all fall away from Him that night. Zechariah had promised as much (Zech. 13:7) Peter shouts out indignantly : vs. 33 Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will!…. Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you (and the other disciples joined Peter in their commitment to Jesus)
Peter’s downfall – his attitude was so arrogant. Here’s a warning for all of us who hold views strongly…
They left that solemn room and made their way to a garden on the Mount of Olives – the Garden of Gethsemane the place where Luke records (Lk. 22:39) that Jesus went regularly to pray.
Jesus felt the need of support and companionship in this traumatic night of His life. Jesus asked of Peter, James and John a simple thing : “Watch with me and pray“. These were three fishermen – well accustomed to staying up all night in their work – but somehow staying awake for prayer was just too difficult – do YOU find that?
Jesus prayed that night, as He has never prayed before. He was sorrowful and troubled. Jesus knew what the next hours would hold for Him – the desertion of friends, the denial of Peter, the betrayal of Judas, the treatment of the officials, the pain of the death on the Cross – and most of all – the awful fact that He would be separated from His Father.
Humanly speaking Jesus would have done ANYTHING other than go through with this – BUT there was one overriding principle which governed Jesus life and was this. This principle is one which every Christian would be wise to adopt – it is one which promises a life of God’s very best – you will find it on the lips of Jesus in verse 42: Your will be done !
Hebrews 5: 7 says : Jesus… offered up prayers and petitions to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. God answered Jesus’ prayer in the only way He could. If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet NOT AS I WILL, but as YOU will.
But what of the disciples – three times – asleep – their spirits were willing to help Jesus, but their bodies were weak.
Here comes my betrayer. Says Jesus.
And WHO was leading the band of armed men? Judas!
He had arranged a signal with the men – I’ll kiss Jesus – then you’ll know which one to arrest. We only read of Jesus being kissed twice.
Once in Luke 7:3 8,45 by a penitent woman – that was the kiss of love and thankfulness. The other kiss is this one from Judas. The kiss of death from a friend is the worst act imaginable.
Jesus’ arrest is in 6 phases – he is tried by Annas, then by Caiaphas, then by the Sanhedrin, by Pilate the Roman, then by King Herod, and finally by Pilate a 2nd time. On this account – the second phase, in front of Caiaphas, verse 60 says they brought in false witnesses. People to say BAD things about Jesus. They HAD TO bring in false witnesses, because there was NO-ONE who could bring any true charge against God’s Son.
Jesus challenged His enemies (Jn) Which of you can prove ME guilty of sin? They claimed He was worthy of death – NOTHING could have been further from the truth. Then Peter says 3 times that he does NOT know Jesus – and Jesus’ promise of the Upper Room comes true. The cock crowed – Jesus being led through the courtyard turned and looked at Peter and suddenly Peter realised what he had done to Jesus. It is just THAT realisation which is needed here today – look what YOU have done to Jesus – fall on your knees – and say with Jesus Your Way, not mine, Lord!
Hymn THY way, not mine, O Lord
1 THY way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be!
Lead me by thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.
2 Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best,
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to thy rest.
3 I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might:
Choose thou for me, my God,
So shall I walk aright.
4 Take thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to thee may seem;
Choose thou my good and ill.
5 Choose, Lord, for me my friends
My sickness and my health
Choose Thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth
6 Not mine, not mine the choice,
In things both great and small;
Be thou my guide, my strength,
My wisdom, and my all.