Peter’s faith in Matthew 26

Peter sure had a lot of faith in himself in this chapter, all of it unwarranted.  For example, what’s this?

33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

It’s probably always a bad idea to contradict Jesus.  He knows Peter better than Peter knows himself.

Peter is then among those who fall asleep in Gethsemane, after Jesus asked him to watch.  Jesus gets it right again.  He understands what is really going on.

41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Then we have the infamous cutting off the ear of the High priest’s servant.  John is the one who names names in John 18:10.  The servant was Malchus, the ear-cutter was Peter.  Maybe he was trying to make up for falling asleep earlier by showing he was really going to take care of things now.  “I got this Lord.  Your back is safe with me.”

Then comes the actual denial at the end of the chapter.  Matthew explains that Peter denied Christ to not one but two (2) servant girls and then to some bystanders who pointed out that his accent gave him away.  He sounded like he was from Galilee, not Jerusalem.

Let’s all be glad that our faith is in Jesus and not in Peter and not in ourselves.  Left to ourselves, we and Peter have a lot in common.  Our behavior is erratic.  Our self-confidence is normally misplaced. 

When nobody is looking, we can deliver a pretty good boast. “I’ll never fall away.  I’m ready to die at your side.” When push comes to shove, servant girls and random bystanders are more than enough to intimidate us into denial.  “Who me?  You think I know that guy?  Sorry. Never met him.”

Wait, do I hear a rooster?

A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 25

Heavenly Father,

The church has been waiting for Christ’s return for what seems like a long time. Help our faith to be genuine and our attitude to remain watchful so that we will be ready when he finally arrives.

Help us also to be busy about our Master’s business. You have given us resources and abilities that you expect us to use for you. Help us not to fear or get lazy, but rather to use what you have given us for your glory.

We also realize that the consequences of Christ’s judgment are eternal. We ask you to forgive us that we might inherit the kingdom that you have prepared for us from the foundation of the world.

We pray for all of those we know that are lost, that they might be saved, and in that way avoid the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

While we are waiting for Jesus and working for you, help us to be a blessing to the poor, the needy, the foreigner, the sick and those who are in prison.

Help us to be a blessing to any and all that need our help, starting with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but not stopping with only them.

And help us to keep doing this until Jesus comes.

In Christ’s name,

Amen.

 

 

Matthew 24 Verse by Verse

Matt photoThe extended teaching known as the Olivet Discourse is one of the Bible’s most important pertaining to end times prophecy.  In it Christ reminds to always be watching for him.  He is coming and we do not know when.

Matthew 24.pdf

Matthew 24.mp3

A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 24

Heavenly Father,

Jesus warned us that many will be deceived by false signs and false Christs prior to his actual coming.  Please protect us from every form of spiritual deception.

Help us not to fear as we continuously hear of wars and rumors of wars, political turmoil, famines, earthquakes, and increasing troubles of various kinds.  We understand that these things must be, but they do not mean that the end is here, or even that it is near enough for us to see it.

On the other hand, help us to always be watchful, because our Lord is returning for us at a time that we do not know and will not expect.

He might even come today, so help us to always be ready.

In Christ’s name,

Amen.

 

Always be ready – Matthew 24:36-44

In this passage, part of Christ’s Olivet Discourse, Jesus makes a vital point for us.  We must always be ready for his return.

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

I have personally and unscientifically observed two common and unfortunate responses to the thought that Jesus can come back at any moment. 

One is to go completely overboard in end times enthusiasm.  I remember years ago having to comfort a man whose wife had died.  Grief is hard.  His was made worse by the conviction that he and his wife, who were not young, were both going to live to see the rapture of the church.  He has since died as well.  No rapture.

The other unfortunate response, perhaps egged on by views like the one above, is to decide that Bible prophecy is so difficult, obscure or controversial that it’s not worth paying it any attention.  This seems to be more common at present, but it directly contradicts Jesus’ point.

Whether one believes this passage from Matthew is talking about the rapture or not (I personally think it is, which I know is a minority view), Christ wants us to be ready.  He wants us to stay awake (v.42), be ready (v.44) and to watch (Matt 25:13).

The fact that we cannot know when Jesus is coming is not a motivator to not care when he will return.  I believe this tension and lack of clarity regarding his return is designed to keep us always watchful.  Every generation of Christians has every reason to believe that Jesus can come during their lifetime, but we can never be sure that he will.  

Therefore we must always be ready.  Let’s repeat that.

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 23

Heavenly Father,

By listening to Jesus we learn that there is a great danger in hypocritical religion.  The scribes and Pharisees were guilty of it then, but many besides them have been guilty of it too. Many are still guilty of it now.

In response we ask you to please show us where the practice of our faith does not measure up to your standards.  Transform our hearts so that we become people who are inwardly pure.  Let our love for you and for others cause us to grieve over sin and truly fear the day of your coming judgment.

And let us always be prepared and eagerly waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In his name,
Amen.