SEE MATTHEW 16:13-17 


Matt. 26:36-46; JOHN 18, 19



Dear Friends,   

            Satan tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross in the wilderness temptations, then through Peter, (see below) one of His closest friends, and finally in the Garden of Gethsemane (means, “oil press”). From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.  Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"  Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matt. 16:21-23)  Jesus was in command. Satan will try to stop us from “taking up our cross daily and following Jesus.” (Luke 9:23) As with Jesus, Satan will offer us temporal gain that will mean eternal loss and we may not even know how much we have lost until we stand at the judgment seat of Christ. Judas sold the Eternal King of kings for thirty pieces of silver.

A cohort (600 soldiers) of Roman soldiers with weapons and many temple guards were sent to arrest one Man and when Jesus said, “I am He” (“I Am” – “ego eime,” the Name of  God – John 18:5-6.) they all fell backwards to the ground.  Jesus was in command! Many commentators think this is a theophany – an appearance of Jesus’ Divinity (like on the Mount of Transfiguration – Matt. 17:1-6) He could have literally walked right over them but knew for our sakes that He must lay down His life on the cross. Jesus had prayed through (Matt. 26:36-46) and was in total dependence on God and absolute submission to God.  He was empowered and ready. God didn’t deliver Him from the trial but God did deliver Him in the trial. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43) The spiritual power to do God’s will comes with our willingness to do His will. Nevertheless, Thy will be done. “In His will is our peace.” (Dante –Paradiso) The way Jesus went through the horror of the cross is an answer to His earlier prayer in John 17:1. "Father, the time has come (for the cross). Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” His peace, His love for even those who nailed Him to the cross, glorified the merciful love of God.

We must realize that Jesus the God-man is 100% God and 100% man and this is totally irrational to our finite minds. It is what the Bible calls a mystery. Thus Jesus had two wills, two centers of consciousness. It is important to know this (though we cannot understand it – we accept it by faith) because Jesus had to be both fully human and fully God to bring salvation to man. He must be human because substitutionary atonement requires a man (a human – not bulls and goats – see Heb. 10:4) to bear judgment for the sins of all men. Yet He must be God because no mere man, no matter how noble he may have been, can provide the infinite purchase price to redeem mankind from their sins. Having this understanding we see Jesus in His humanity (just like us) wrestle with the will of God in utter honesty and yet utter trust and yieldedness. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matt.26:39) Some commentators think that when Jesus’ “sweat became like drops of blood” in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44) it was possibly a condition called ‘hematidrosis’ which is the actual mingling of blood and sweat as in cases of extreme anguish or strain. This is how far Jesus went to resist temptation to not go to the cross. And His greatest fear was not the pain of the cross but becoming sin and thus being forsaken by His Father. In our relatively lesser temptations we need to heed the exhortation that the writer of Hebrews gives us in light of Jesus’ resistance to temptation to disobey God. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb. 12:4)

We often miss Peter’s bravery and love for Jesus in emphasizing his denial. He did try to stop them from taking Jesus in the garden, (John 18:10) and he was only one of two (John, the other) who followed Jesus when they arrested Him. Yet he did deny Him and when the Lord looked at him he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61, 62) Peter denied Jesus for fear of his very life. Yet, did the scourges from a Roman soldier hurt Jesus any more than the betrayal of His close friend? We are called to deny self, not to deny Jesus and self denial is always for our higher good in the end. We can often deny Jesus for much less than Peter did – the fear of not fitting in with people who ignore or reject Jesus.

Jesus was in command at the six trials they put Him through. He often questions His own accusers. And God was in command. We see the sovereignty of God as the Jews sought crucifixion, not stoning per their Law. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of capital punishment and used only by the Romans and only then for the vilest offenders. Yet this fulfilled three prophecies: 1) no bones will be broken; stoning would break the bones of the person. (John 19:36); 2) to include both Jews and Gentiles (Romans) in the collective guilt for the cross (Acts 2:23. 4:27); and 3) It was prophesied that Jesus was to be lifted up (on the cross) as the snake in the desert. (Deut. 21:23; John 3:14; Gal.3:13) God uses man’s sinful choices for His purposes but man is still accountable for his choices.

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.” (John 18:38) Pilate was looking Truth in the face and did not see it, nor did the Jewish leaders. God’s truth is the light of God that reveals temporal realities in light of spiritual and eternal Realities. Knowing, meditating on and obeying God’s Word (truth) gives us God’s wisdom and perspective on the issues of life.

Pilate could find no guilt in Jesus. (John 18:38; 19:4, 6), nor could anyone else. Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice required by God. (Ex. 12:5; 1 Peter 1:19) But the people wanted Barabbas! He was a robber and rebel found guilty and sentenced to death. But Jesus died in his place. We are all like Barabbas (Rom. 3:23; 6:23), guilty and sentenced to eternal punishment but Jesus died in our place and set us free.

“Hail, King of the Jews!” (John 19:3) Though the soldiers and the Jews meant this in mockery, the irony was that He is the King of the Jews and the King of kings. Even in the pain and humiliation of the cross, Jesus was in command.

                                              Questions for reflection/application:  

If Satan could take you out of God’s call on your life where would he most likely tempt you and try to deceive you?

Learning from Peter, where are you most tempted to deny Christ versus deny self? From Jesus’ example what can you do to change this?

How does knowing that Jesus “took it like a man” in resisting the powerful temptation of Satan to avoid the cross, encourage you in resisting temptation?In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb. 12:4)

Pilate looked Truth in the face and didn’t recognize it. How can we be blind to truth? What can we do about it? (See Hebrews 5:11-14)

Try to imagine the relief and hope Barabbas must have felt when he went from expecting to die on a cross to being instantly set free. Imagine him observing Jesus’ crucifixion. How do you think he would feel? How does this relate to our salvation? How could we ever take it for granted?

Until He comes,

Len and Kristen

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