Reading:Matthew 26:20-25, 31-35
(a) Our reading is of the occasion when Jesus is instituting the ‘Last Supper’, which was commemorated right through the early church, and is still, in one form or another still practiced in almost all Christian Churches today. In fact, even the Salvation Army, in it’s early days, held ‘Holy Communion’.
(b) Now the disciples of Jesus were a mixed bunch to say the least, with differing views, different ambitions, and different motives.
(c) Although Jesus knew perfectly well who would betray Him, He used it as an incentive to the disciples for self-examination.
(d) Someone once said, “Self-examination is difficult....., unpleasent, humbling work; but if a man is to be a man, he will have to do it. Over the Greek Temple they wrote, ‘KNOW THYSELF’.” (P.C. 34, p575)
(e) The hardest person to really get to know is oneself!
Sometimes our own motives behind a certain action are a mystery, even to ourselves. We often make excuses for ourselves without really knowing the reasons we have done something.
(a) When our Phillip was a child, he might have been mentally handicapped, but he certainly wasn't stupid! When he was being brought to task for certain misdeeds he had done, his usual response was, “NOT ME! NOT ME!” He would then look accusingly at his little innocent sister. The attitude being - “It can’t be me, it must be her.”
(b) I think on the occasion in question, amongst the disciples, there was something of this attitude, when they were asked the question, for we find in the original language that they responded, “SURELY IT CANNOT BE I LORD, CAN IT?” (Amplified Bible)
(c) At that stage, they did not have the awareness that, THROUGH OUR SINS, EACH ONE OF US HAS BETRAYED HIM!
(d) Neither did they realise the personal application of the words of Isaiah, some 500 years before in chapter 53, when he said, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.”
(e) Until that personal realisation dawns upon us, that WE have an INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY for all that happened to Jesus that first Easter; until that comes to us, there is very little the Lord can do with us!
(f) A song my wife and I often sing says,
Every time I sin on earth, I feel that I’m the one!
I’m the one, who shouted crucify,
I’m the one who made His cross so high,
I’m the one who stood and let Him die.
What have I done, I’m the one.
(a) Jesus said to the disciples, “YOU’RE ALL GOING TO RUN AND LEAVE ME!”
(b) They were all horrified, but of course, there’s always someone whose mouth is out of synchronisation with their brain. The words pour out without any thought!
(c) That someone was of course impetuous Peter!!
(d) In Matthew 16:23, Jesus had to rebuke Peter with the words, “GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN!”
(e) In Matthew 14:29, you will remember Peter jumps out of the boat and walks to Jesus on the water. That was, until he looked around at what he was actually doing. Then he began to panic and to sink!
(f) In Matthew 17:4, during the awesome experience of the transfiguration, Peter says the first thing to enter his head, which if you remember, was a ridiculous suggestion about building three tabernacles for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus!!
(g) In Matthew 17:4, you’ll remember, at the garden of Gethsemane, during the arrest of Jesus, it is Peter who draws his sword and cuts of the ear of the servant of the High Priest
(h) So it is only fitting that it is Peter who says, “NOT ME LORD! EVERYONE ELSE MAY LEAVE YOU, BUT NOT ME!”
(i) Jesus informs him that before the cock crows to welcome in the next day, that Peter will deny Him, not once, but three times!
(j) As we know, the prophesy of Jesus came to pass in every detail, resulting in the fact that this big strong self-assured fisherman, was completely broken. He just fell apart at the seams. His dependence upon himself and his own strength was forever broken. His confidence in himself was completely smashed!
(k) This was an experience that was to change Peter for the better, and make him the man he needed to become, so that in the days to come, he could be THE FEARLESS LEADER OF THE APOSTLES - one who it is stated in secondary histories, FOLLOWED HIS LORD, RIGHT TO THE END, BY BEING CRUCIFIED FOR HIS FAITH!!
(a) Often, we sing the chorus, some of the words of which say, “BREAK ME MELT ME MOULD ME FILL ME!!”
(b) Whilst we live in our own strength, we might as well sing with Julie Andrews, the song from the Sound of Music, “I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN ME!!”
(c) Unfortunately, sooner or later, like Peter, we will find our confidence misplaced, and come to earth with a shattering bump!
(d) Proverbs 3:26 says, “FOR THE LORD SHALL BE THY CONFIDENCE.”
Self confidence can be very dangerous, in that it can make us forget that the Scripture warns, “LET HIM THAT STANDETH, TAKE HEED LEST HE FALL!”
YOU COULD BE THE NEXT, IF YOUR DEPENDENCE IN THE LORD IS INCOMPLETE!
(e) Whenever I heard of the backsliding of American Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, I was, along with millions of others shocked, and deeply saddened.
(f) But the more I thought about it, I realised, that out of this experience, like Peter, Jimmy could come through a much better person, more understanding, more trusting, more able to help others who have also denied their Lord through their actions.
(g) It is an unfortunate fact of human nature, that sometimes to break our confidence in ourselves, such an experience is necessary!
(h) How far has the Lord got to take you and me, before we’re willing to be broken before Him? Before we’re willing to say with the songwriter, “I’LL GO IN THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD”?????
(i) Only through a life of deep commitment, will we be able to draw upon His Strength, and have that complete confidence!
Prayer Chorus Happiness & Harmony no 59
38 (H & H), 498 (378), 294 (711)
Solo I was born to love the Lord.