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Proper Prayer Annihilates Our Will


Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
(Matthew 26:36-46 ESV)


We are currently studying the events of Jesus and His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane which begins the final hours of Jesus life. Jesus came to the Gethsemane, a quiet location just east of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives, to pray before being arrested.

Notice that in each of Jesus’ three prayers He addressed God as Father. This expressed an intimacy with God that was anathema to the Jews of the day and still is with most people. People see God as a distant and impersonal authority figure. They don’t consider Him to have, or even to want to have, a personal relationship with them. Here in this passage Jesus clearly expresses a personal relationship with God by calling Him “My” father.

But Jesus always called God “Father”, even using the Aramaic word “Abba” which means “daddy” [Mark 14:36]. This was the reason the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him. They considered Jesus to be committing blasphemy [John 5:18]. The problem was not Jesus, however. The problem was they did not understand who God really was.

Such is still the state of the human race. They think they understand God, but they don’t. So when they see someone having a personal relationship with God, or trying to serve God in a way that makes no sense to them (such as a Christian baker who won’t bake a cake for a gay wedding), their response is wrought with hostility born of arrogance based on erroneous thinking.

Despite what we like to think, we don’t inherently know the proper way to think or behave. Our will is almost always at odds with God’s will. By studying the events in Gethsemane we learn the necessity of having a relationship with God through prayer.

The purpose of prayer is to align our will with God’s to bring us to the point where we submit our will to God’s. An effective prayer results in yielding to what God wants for us regardless of the cost – even if the cost is physical death. When we pray we should be seeking God’s strength to resist the temptation to reject His plan for our lives. We should be seeking to annihilate our own will.

When Jesus entered Gethsemane His will was at odds with God’s. Because He was completely human, He would rather skip the cross and all that went with it. But in the end, after praying three times, Jesus gained the peace and confidence that goes along with exchanging His will for God’s. His betrayal was at hand and He was willing to be going (to the cross).

In Gethsemane we see in the disciples the effects of not praying and instead being self-confident and relying on our own strength. The result was they failed their friend when He needed them most. But we also see in Jesus the spiritual victory that is available to those who, through prayer, depend on God.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Prayer Is The Remedy For Temptation


Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
(Matthew 26:36-46 ESV)


Yesterday we began our study of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane where He becomes very distressed over the fate that awaited Him within just the next few hours and prays to God, His Father, about the situation.

After He finished praying (the first of what will be three prayers) He came to the three disciples and found them sleeping. It was after midnight at this point and these young men were understandably tired. But their friend Jesus was about to be arrested, beaten, and crucified. If ever Jesus needed His friends to support Him it was now. But they could not be counted on. They fell asleep.

Jesus confronts them about not being able to watch with Him one hour. Notice that Jesus speaks to Peter. But in the original Greek the word “you” is plural, indicating that Jesus was addressing the entire group through Peter. This is one place where we can tell that Peter was the leader of the disciples.

Just hours earlier the disciples had professed unwavering support for Jesus despite Jesus’ profession that would not be the case. They clearly did not believe what Jesus said. They also had too much confidence tin themselves.

This is too often true of Christians. We don’t pray because we think “I’ve got this”. The disciples thought they were strong enough to endure the circumstances they were to soon find themselves in. They should have heeded Jesus’ words by praying for strength not to abandon Jesus in His hour of need. 

There is a double nature in all believers. When we are born-again [John 3:3] we come to know what sin is and to abhor it. But that doesn’t mean we can stop doing it. As long as we live on this earth we will be torn between doing what we don’t want to do and not doing what we know we should do [Romans 7:15-23]. As Jesus told the disciples, the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weakThe disciples, like most of us, had good intentions. But they, like most of us, mistook those good intentions for strength.

Our inherent weakness is the exact reason we should pray. Because we are weak we are apt to fall into temptation. The remedy for this is to be on our guard (watchand pray. We are weak, even though we don’t like to admit it and often fail to realize it. And while God does expect and command believers to encourage and strengthen each other [Luke 22:32; Acts 18:33, Hebrews 10:25], there are times when the only one we can turn to and rely upon is God.

Sin is all around us. Satan is always trying to get Christians to mess up so that he can give nonbelievers and critics a reason to not believe. Prayer is the best way to avoid Satan’s temptations and prevent sin.

Notice that even though we mess up God does not criticize or humiliate us. Jesus instead reminded the disciples of the importance of staying alert and praying for strength. It’s amazing to see that even in Jesus’ most trying hour He continued to teach.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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The Only Way To Save Your Soul


Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
(Matthew 26:36-46 ESV)


After finishing His final Passover meal with His disciples (known as The Last Supper), Jesus takes the eleven remaining disciples to a place called Gethsemane. The Aramaic word “gethsemane” means “olive press”. It was probably an olive grove where olives were crushed in a large vat and pressed-over with a large stone in order to release their oil.

Just like the olives that were crushed in this garden in order to access their oil, Jesus’ soul was “crushed” there too. He says that His soul was very sorrowful, even to death. The Greek word Matthew uses for “sorrowful” here is very intense. It describes a sorrow that cannot be surpassed. There are a few reasons for this.

First, Jesus was alone. Judas had departed the group and was in the process of betraying Him. The remaining disciples were of no help, as we’ll learn tomorrow. Also, Jesus knew what lay ahead for Him.

Within a few hours Jesus would be beaten within inches of His life. He would then have nails driven through His wrists and feet and left to hang on a cross to die. But as bad as the physical torture would be, Jesus would face something far worse: the sins of the billions and billions of people who have walked this earth would be placed upon Him and He would pay the penalty for each and every one of them.

Jesus was holy. He was God’s own Son who resided with Him in heaven. He had not one drop of sin in Him. Up until this point in His life He knew nothing but complete and perfect harmony with God. But He was about to face the penalty for sin – complete abandonment by God [Matthew 27:46].

It was this cup which Jesus asked His Father to let pass from Him, if possible. The fact that Jesus did go to the cross tells us that there was no other way. Sure Jesus could have refused to go. Or God could have prevented it from happening. But then there would be no forgiveness of sins available to you and me. The only way possible for my sins and your sins to be forgiven was for Jesus to shed His own blood and be forsaken by God in our place.

You and I are up to our eyeballs in sin and should be the ones God abandons. But we can avoid this since Jesus placed God’s will ahead of His own. Rather than take the selfish, self-preserving way out, Jesus sacrificially went to the cross so that those who accept God’s offer of forgiveness can enter heaven [John 3:3, 16; Acts 4:10]. There is no other way.

Jesus knew how horrible it is to be separated from God. That is why His soul was being crushed in Gethsemane. He was going to go through the worst possible experience a human being could go through. This passage should open our eyes to the horrific reality of hell which, be definition, is the eternal separation from God.

If the prospect of being abandoned by God distressed Jesus to the point He sweated drops of blood [Luke 22:44] – a rare, but real, phenomenon known as hematohidrosis – it should scare us too such that we, like Jesus, give up our own will for God’s. That is the only way to save one’s soul.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Tells Us The Truth; Believe What He Says


And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
(Matthew 26:30-35 ESV)


Yesterday Jesus told His eleven remaining disciples that each of them would desert Him later that night because of their association with Him. Peter objects, claiming that he will never fall away and will not deny Jesus.

Jesus was God. Peter knew this [Matthew 16:16]. Yet here in this passage we see Peter contradicting Him; Peter tells God that He is wrong. In fact in this one passage He does it twice! But this is not all that uncommon. Many people don’t believe what God tells them about themselves.

God tells us, among other things, that we are weak [Mark 14:38], we are sinful [Psalm 51:5], we cannot do anything good [Romans 3:10], and we are inherently evil [Mark 7:21-22]. Everyone rejects these concepts, at least at first.

Some come to realize they are true and humble themselves and seek God’s forgiveness. These are the one’s Jesus calls “born again” – those who have had a spiritual awakening and who see and believe these truths [John 3:3]. Others never believe them. Many spend much of their lives fighting against these truths.

It was Peter’s pride that prevented Him from believing that He would abandon Jesus. And it is pride that prevents people from believing that they are sinners and are inherently evil.

But notice that while Peter proclaimed that he would never abandon Jesus, he was sure that the other ten would all fall away. Peter thought he was better than the other disciples. Again, this is the way of all of us. People refuse to believe the negative things God says about them but we are more than willing to believe those same negative characteristics apply to others.

It should be noted that God tells His children some other things. Among them are we are loved [1 Thessalonians 1:4], we are a masterpiece [Ephesians 2:10], we are created for a purpose [Jeremiah 29:11], we are valuable [1 Corinthians 7:23], we are intentionally created [Psalm 139:14], we are part of His family [John 1:12], and most of all – we are forgiven [Ephesians 1:7]. Yet even many Christians have trouble believing these things as well.

Many Christians live like we are not these things. We think God is angry at us for all the mistakes we make in deed and thought. But He isn’t. All our sins were forgiven at the cross.

We are weak, sinful, and inherently evil just like God says. But that is not how God views us anymore. God doesn’t even see the sins of those who have accepted His free offer of forgiveness through Jesus [Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19].

When we disbelieve what God tells us, either the good or the bad, we are calling God a liar. We all do it all the time – believers and nonbelievers alike. In fact, this wasn’t the first time Peter told Jesus/God that He was wrong [Matthew 16:22]. But whenever we do God’s response is the same. He will never chastise us or forsake us [Deuteronomy 31:6]. He simply continues to try to make us see the light. He is forever patient and forever forgiving [Psalm 86:15].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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We’re Not As Great As We Think We Are


And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
(Matthew 26:30-35 ESV)


Traditionally the Passover meal ended with the singing of three Psalms called Hallel [Psalm 116, 117, 118]. These Psalms all offer up praise and thanks to God. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus was able to sing praises to God knowing that in about 12 hours He would be nailed to a cross of wood? I wonder how many of us, knowing that we were about to face tragedy or even die, would be able to do the same.

As Jesus and the eleven remaining disciples went out to the Mount of Olives (where Jesus would be arrested a couple of hours later) He dropped another bombshell on them. He told them that all (not some) of them would fall away that night because of Him. He goes on to say that this would be the fulfillment of a prophecy authored by God hundreds of years earlier through the prophet Zechariah [Zechariah 13:7]. Their running away was all part of God’s plan.

The reason for Jesus telling His disciples this is two-fold. First, when it happened (which, as we’ll read, it did) it would further prove His omniscience and claims to be God.

But second, it would have also revealed to the disciples their weak character. This didn’t happen when Jesus uttered these words. It became apparent to them later, after they flee from Jesus when He is arrested just like He said they would [Mark 14:43-50]. The disciples would certainly recall being told they were cowards in advance of actually acting like cowards.

These eleven disciples would be the ones through whom God would reach the planet with the good news of His new covenant and the availability of forgiveness by believing upon Jesus. Everyone who has ever heard the gospel message has done so because of these eleven young men (all but Peter were likely teenagers). But first they needed to be humbled. God cannot use people who are prideful or self-serving. Such people are not devoted to Him or to others. They seek their own glory.

Realizing we are weak when we think we are strong; or are dumb when we think we are smart; or are liars when we think we are honest is a humbling experience. The first step towards spiritual strengthening is to recognize and admit that one is spiritually weak [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]. Sometimes God helps us realize that.

Being told you’re not as great as you think you are by your mentor (which is essentially what is happening here) can change you, if you let it. Judas was not open to hearing such things about Himself. The other eleven were. And that made all the difference. They grew into great men because they (eventually) accepted the words of their teacher and learned from that negative feedback.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Out With The Old Covenant, In With The New


Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 26:26-29 ESV)


Today’s verses are an important and pivotal passage not only in the life of Jesus but in the history of mankind. For in it, Jesus replaces the Passover from the Old Testament with the Lord’s Supper of the New Testament.

The Passover had been initiated by God while the Israelites were still slaves in Egypt. Its purpose was to remind themselves of something that was going to happen. Namely, that God would send a savior whose blood would be shed to protect people from the penalty of their sins [Exodus 12].

Now, Jesus brings an end to this 1,500-year-old observance and initiates a ritual that He commands His followers perform regularly to remember something that already happened [Luke 22:19-20] – the shedding of His blood which actually did pay for the sins of mankind.

Many, if not most, Christian churches perform a ritual they call “The Lord’s Supper”, “Eucharist” (which in ancient Greek means “thanks”), or “Communion”. All these terms refer to this new observance Jesus initiates here. Some churches perform it monthly, some weekly. But all Christians are commanded to observe it with some regularity.

Historically this passage has created a lot of controversy. Early Christians were accused of cannibalism because Jesus said “eat; this is my body… drink, this is my blood”. Catholicism erroneously teaches that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus through a process called transubstantiation when they are blessed by the priest during mass (CCC 1376 from the official Catholic Catechism). None of this is true.

The bread and the wine are mere symbolic representations of Jesus’ body and blood (most churches use grape juice, although some do use non-alcoholic wine). It is not more complicated than that. There is no mystery to it. It’s no different from when Jesus said He was a “vine” or a “gate” [John 10:9, 15:5]. He isn’t really those things. Here, like there, He was simply speaking metaphorically.

When we eat a piece of unleavened bread and drink a small cup of juice during this ceremony we recall Jesus’ death and how His body was bruised and His blood was shed on our behalf. The outcome of this should be humility and thanksgiving.

But notice that when we participate in the Lord’s Supper we also anticipate His return as Jesus tells us He will not drink wine with the disciples again until they are all in His Father’s kingdom. This tells us a couple of things. Jesus will return. And all eleven of these disciples will be in heaven (remember, Judas is no longer present in this scene).

It’s interesting to note that God never commands us to celebrate Jesus’ birth (i.e. Christmas) or any other aspect of His life. We are only commanded to commemorate His death because it was through His death that we have eternal life.

When God made covenants with Moses and Abraham they were ratified with blood [Genesis 8:20; 15:9-10]. The only way for man to be reconciled to God is by the shedding of blood [Hebrews 9:22].

Jesus therefore didn’t simply have to die (otherwise a heart attack would have sufficed) but He had to give His own life by shedding His blood [1 Peter 1:18-19] for the life of all flesh is in its blood [Leviticus 17:14].

All the animals sacrificed over the hundreds of years under the Old Covenant were mere symbols of Jesus. But in this passage Jesus ushers out the Old Covenant and replaces it with the New Covenant, based on the shedding of His own blood

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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It Would Have Been Better For Some People If They Had Never Been Born


When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
(Matthew 26:20-25 ESV)


Yesterday we saw Jesus drop a bombshell on His disciples during the Last Supper. He stated that one of the twelve would betray Him. Each of the twelve wondered if it was him. Of course we all know it was Judas who betrayed Jesus.

Notice that Judas also asks Jesus “Is it I?” but he does not call Jesus “Lord” like the other eleven. Instead he simply calls Jesus “Rabbi” which means “teacher”. When the others called Jesus “Lord” they were humbling themselves before Him. They recognized and admitted that Jesus was many things they were not, including being God [Matthew 16:16].

Judas did not have such reverence for Jesus. Even his referring to Jesus as his teacher seems disingenuous. For reasons we studied yesterday, Judas was disillusioned with Jesus. When Jesus didn’t live up to Judas’ misguided expectations he made a deal to betray Him and send Him to His death.

Referring to the one who would betray Him Jesus says “it would have been better for that man if he had not been born”. This is a very strong statement. But it tells us something. It tells us that there is an eternity, even for those who don’t go to heaven.

Many people want to believe that God annihilates unbelievers or that unbelievers go to some place (e.g. purgatory) from where they can eventually make it to heaven. But such scenarios don’t line up with Jesus’ statement here. If these things were true then it would not be better for a sinner not to be born. It would always be better for them to have been born. The only way that Jesus’ comment makes sense is if there is an eternal, inescapable hell for people who die without having their sins forgiven.

But more than that, those people who knowingly and willfully sin after being confronted with the truth about their sin, as Judas was in this scene, will have a more severe time in hell than others who are ignorant about their sin. This will certainly apply to those who intentionally impugn the name of Jesus [Hebrews 10:26-27, 29].

Jesus spoke often about hell. He spoke about it more than any other subject. He didn’t do this to be mean. He did do it to frighten people. He literally wanted to scare the hell out of us so we would repent, humble ourselves, and accept His free offer of forgiveness for our sins. Those people who do not heed Jesus’ words will end up in hell for all eternity. There will be no escape.

But one won’t heed Jesus’ words if, like Judas, they do not have a reverence for Jesus. Salvation is impossible without first having a right understanding of Jesus.

If one does not believe in Jesus or recognize Him for who He is (God in the flesh) one will not pay attention to His words about hell and, hence, will end up there. It would have been better for them not to have been born.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Appeals; He Does Not Coerce


When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
(Matthew 26:20-25 ESV)


Today we continue reading the story of Jesus’ final Passover meal with His disciples, commonly referred to as The Last Supper, which took place just hours before He would be arrested, tried, and crucified. In the midst of the meal while they all reclined at the table Jesus dropped a bombshell – one of the twelve would betray Him. Jesus had mentioned His impending death a few times previous to this [Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19] but this is the first time He’s mentioned being betrayed.

All the disciples were very sorrowful and each asked Jesus “Is it I, Lord?”. Here we see some maturation among the disciples. For three years they had been boastful and arrogant, seeking glory for themselves on the coattails of Jesus. But now each one realized that they were capable of betraying their friend and teacher. Realizing one has the capacity to sin is a sign of humility and maturity.

Jesus responds that the betrayer is he who has dipped his hand in the dish with Me which didn’t tell them who the betrayer was because all of them had shared in the meal. So what was the point of Jesus saying this?

In the Middle East having a meal with someone is a sign of friendship. To eat with someone just before you betray them would be treachery to the max. These words by Jesus were a gracious attempt to make Judas realize his impending, terrible sin and turn from it before it was too late. This is exactly how God still works. He doesn’t coerce people into not sinning or into believing in their need for forgiveness. Instead He appeals to them and leaves them with the choice as to what they will do.

This was not an appeal by Jesus to save His own life for He says that the Son of Man (referring to Himself) goes as it is written of Him. That is, the rest of Jesus’ life was going to go according to God’s plan as recorded in the Old Testament. If Judas had repented Jesus would still have gone to the cross in less than 24 hours. It was not possible to stop His crucifixion. But it was possible for Judas to change His mind and save His own soul.

God calls on all of us to repent of our sin for our own sake. He doesn’t want to see us separated from Him for all eternity because He knows how dreadful hell will be for those who reject Him [1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9].

God isn’t going to force us to believe we are sinners and to seek forgiveness. Rather He appeals to us with facts and information, letting us take responsibility for our decision to believe or not. Sadly, like Judas, most people ignore God’s appeal.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Jesus Was The Lamb At The Last Supper


Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
(Matthew 26:17-19 ESV)


The Jewish calendar was filled with religious celebrations. Two of these were the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Combined these two back-to-back observances lasted eight days and were often referred to as one with the first day being the actual Passover. Both of these celebrations commemorated the Israelites escape from bondage in Egypt.

Interestingly on this day the disciples had not yet prepared a place for Jesus to eat the Passover. But it seems that Jesus already had a place in mind and He directed two disciples, Peter and John, to make the arrangements to eat at the house of a certain man. Jesus was seemingly keeping the details from most of the disciples because He knew that Judas had already agreed to betray Him and He didn’t want His arrest to happen before He had a chance to celebrate one final Passover with His disciples [Luke 22:15].

Some people think they’ve found an inconsistency in the Bible because these events happened on Thursday when the actual Passover was on Friday, the next day. Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death early on Friday morning before the rest of Israel had eaten the Passover [John 18:28; 19:14]. Critics will therefore claim that either Jesus broke one of God’s commandments – on which day of the year to celebrate the Passover [Exodus 12:6] – or the Bible has an error. But not so fast.

We must remember that Jews reckoned their days from sundown to sundown. The day of the Passover would have started at sundown on what we call Thursday and it would have lasted until sundown on what we call Friday. So Jesus did celebrate the Passover on the correct day, albeit about 20 hours earlier than the rest of Israel. However, there is a very interesting and valid reason for this.

At the first Passover God commanded the Israelites, who were still slaves in Egypt, to slay a perfect male lamb and smear its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their homes. When God passed through Egypt, killing the firstborn of every family as punishment for Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Israelites leave Egypt, He would “pass over” any home that had the lamb’s blood around the door (hence the celebration is called “Passover”), sparing their firstborn. It was the lamb’s blood that saved them from God’s wrath [Exodus 12].

Two thousand years later Jesus fulfilled the Passover by becoming the sacrificial “lamb” whose shed blood saves people from experiencing God’s wrath for their sin. Jesus would not be able to celebrate Passover at the usual hour – at the end of the day – because He would already be dead.

Even more interestingly, God commanded that the Passover meal consist of a lamb, unleavened bread, and a dip of bitter herbs [Exodus 12:8]. In the account of Jesus’ last supper the bread and the dip are mentioned, but not the lamb. Why? Because Jesus was the lamb.

The Passover was always meant to foreshadow the atoning death of the Messiah – Jesus Christ. He was the Lamb of God whose death atoned for the sins of the world [Matthew 27:46; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Don’t Let God’s Rebuke Drive You Away From Him


Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
(Matthew 26:14-16 ESV)


Yesterday we studied the story of Mary and how she recklessly used her resources to honor Jesus, not caring about the financial loss. Today we read the story of man who was just the opposite. He cared more about money than about Jesus. His story is just as famous as Mary’s, albeit for a very different reason.

Every word in the Bible is important and today’s passage begins with a very important word: “then“. This tells us that what happens next was initiated by what happened before. Mary’s actions had an effect on Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Or, more precisely, Jesus’ actions (or non-action) towards Mary’s actions drove Judas to the chief priests and offer to deliver Jesus over to them.

Notice that Judas called Jesus “him”. He didn’t use Jesus’ name. This tells me that he had spoken to these men before about the possibility of betraying Jesus but had decided against it for whatever reason. But now he is ready. There is no need to mention Jesus’ name because this had all been discussed before.

It seems that Judas had been harboring doubts about Jesus for some time, wondering if Jesus was the real deal or was a fraud. Up until now he gave Jesus the benefit of the doubt. But now Judas is ready to pull the trigger on his betrayal. He is so ready that all he wants in return is thirty pieces of silver – the amount of money it cost to buy a slave. This was also the precise amount prophesied hundreds of years earlier [Zechariah 11:12].

Jesus had permitted Mary to pour the perfume on Him without rebuking her. So Judas rebuked her [Matthew 26:6-13]. But then Jesus rebuked Judas for rebuking Mary. This seemingly was the final straw for Judas and He decided once-and-for-all that Jesus was a fraud. So he turns His back on Jesus.

But not only was Judas too prideful to accept rebuke, he had a faulty opinion of who Jesus was. He, like the other disciples, certainly thought Jesus going to overthrow Rome and liberate the Jews from tyrannical Roman rule. He made His ill-fated decision based on who He thought Jesus should be rather than on who Jesus actually was.

How many people do the very same thing? They hear the rebuke of Jesus for their sin and instead of reacting with humble repentance out of respect for God’s authority and wisdom, they become enraged and decide they want nothing to do with Him. Or they have an opinion of Jesus that is flat-out wrong and when He doesn’t live up to those misguided expectations they use that as the basis for denying Him. So Instead they pursue the things of life (e.g. money) that offer pleasure that is at best fleeting and can in no way be permanent.

When we realize and accept exactly who Jesus is – God in the flesh [Philippians 2:5-8] – we can also accept His correction of our thoughts and actions. In fact, we embrace His correction because it comes from a God who corrects out of His love for us [Proverbs 12:1; Hebrews 12:6 et. al]. But when we hold on to our human pride and deny who Jesus really is, life ends in disaster.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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