“Sustaining Hope When All Seems Lost”

The Last PassoverThe theme of today’s blog is the title of the sermon I am looking forward to preaching this Sunday morning from Matthew 26:30-35 and Luke 22:24-34.  I am nearing the end of a verse-by-verse expositional study of the Gospel of Matthew  and excited to savor some of the great, dramatic moments in the life and ministry of Christ in the hours before His sacrificial death on the Cross.

Matthew 26:30-35 follows the LORD’s last Passover meal. Earlier in the evening, the disciples became embroiled in a heated dispute (Luke 22:24-27) over which of them would be the greatest in Christ’s earthly kingdom (in spite of His teachings, the disciples had not accepted the LORD’s destiny was a cross, not a throne).   Jesus, rising from the table, modeled the manner of leadership He commanded of His disciples when He washed their feet (John 13:3-15).

sift as wheatSitting down, the LORD stated the first of two declarations that His disciples would deny Him that night (Luke 22:31-34).  Warning the disciples that Satan desired to sift them as wheat, the LORD promised He had prayed specifically for Peter that his faith would not fail and, when He faltered and returned to the LORD, his ministry would strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32). Peter protested He would never deny the LORD (Luke 22:33), but the LORD rebuked him saying he would deny Him three times before the crowing of the rooster would break the silence of the night (Luke 22:34).sift

Enroute to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus declared a second time that the disciples would be scattered into the night, fulfilling the 500-year-old prophecy of Zechariah, “Awake, O sword [instrument of death], against my shepherd [i.e. the LORD’s shepherd], and against the man that is my fellow [neighbor; friend], saith the LORD [Jehovah; Yahweh] of hosts: smite [slay; kill] the shepherd, and the sheep [flock] shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones”  (Zechariah 13:7).  Peter protested a second time He would never deny the LORD (Matthew 26:33) and all the disciples joined him with the same assertion (Matthew 26:35).

In a few hours, Peter and the disciples faced their worse fears when the LORD was arrested and led away.  As Zechariah had prophesied 500 years earlier,  they fled into the darkness of the night (Matthew 26:56).

Peter followed the Lord and three times was asked if he was not one of the LORD’s disciples; each time Peter denied the LORD, the third time with cursing (Matthew 26:57-58, 69-75).  Hearing the crowing of a rooster in the distance, Peter’s heart was pierced with sorrow and we read, “he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).

We know all was not lost!  Peter and the other disciples, though they faltered in their walk, did not lose their faith.  They lacked the courage and fortitude to face their adversaries before the cross (indeed, they stood a great way off); however, after the resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), they could not be silenced!risen

My friend, I am afraid the days ahead for Bible-believing Christians will evidence a growing intolerance of the Gospel and an intensifying hostility for God’s Word.   If we are anchored in our confidence of a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and filled with the Holy Spirit, we might falter at times; however, our faith will never fail!

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith