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The title of today's message is helpless, that's why we need him, we need God, because really we are very helpless.
The unique thing we are going to wrestle with today is that the more and more aware we become of our helplessness, and the better we live that out that is actually how we mature in our faith. So word helpless is going to be a word that, hopefully you will leave, within you leave challenge with thinking about applications in your life. We are taking a hiatus from first John, it's been intense first John is a urgent message but what we are going to do is, we are going to be preaching from passages from the very end of Jesus's life, specifically the last three days of his life. And sometimes it's helpful for me to have a perspective as to where these events take place in relation to Jesus as a whole.
This is kind of one way I think about or it helps me have perspective when we refer to the life of Jesus, that's really what we don't have a lot of information about, in the four gospels of the Bible. The life of Jesus is referring to kind of his first 30 years of life and there is really not a lot. I mean he is from Nazareth, but he was born south of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem. But then he went back up and he lived out his 30 years in Nazareth primarily.
There is a verse in Luke that talks about how every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover when they celebrated God's rescuing Israel from the Egyptians, so he kind of lived up North in Galilee but he came down in Jerusalem which is kind of the center of Gods attention if you will, came down every year but then you get to the ministry of Jesus, you know Jesus left such a lasting mark on history and he did it primarily in 3 years, that's really when he began as official ministry to when he died, it was just 3 years and he primarily did that actually North of Nazareth near Capernaum and around the sea of Galilee, primarily in Galilee, in gentile country. And the reason why is because it says when he began preaching and doing his ministry, there at the synagogue in Nazareth, it says this, it says that they drove him out of town, they took him to a hill on which the town was built in order to throw him down off the cliff, so he wasn't really widely received in his hometown so he did ministry elsewhere, north. But then we get to the passion of Jesus.
So when we refer to the passion of Jesus, that refers to the last week of his life and that's when the Gospel of Luke refers to this time when he, it says, set his face for Jerusalem. So it's like nearing the end of his ministry when he was getting tense, all of a sudden he directed his attention towards Jerusalem and he headed there for this one week and when I think about the passion of Jesus this one week, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday all the way to Sunday, it's like every day grows in intensity. The first day is the triumphal entry, kind of intense because people are waving palm branches and saying Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest, in a sense, here is the Christ, and he is riding a donkey, which is a little bit different.
Monday happens and that's when he clears the temple, curses the fig tree and goes in and just a gives a teaching at the temple that is just mind blowing, the religious leaders, everything heightens in intensity.
Tuesday is when he gives the Olivet discourse meaning this is the last of his five primary teaching and it includes the greatest commandment, the seven woes of Pharisees and signs of the ends of the age, this is his most intense teaching.
Wednesday comes and that's when he is preparing with the disciples for Passover, very meaningful feast for Jews which it was.
Thursday was when he had the last supper in the upper room with his disciples, after that he goes to the garden of gethsemane, he sweats drops of blood.
Midnight of Friday, it's when he is betrayed, he is arrested, he is put on trial all day Friday and Friday, early evening he is crucified.
Saturday, silence, his body is in the tomb, nothing happens. Sunday, empty tomb, he reappears, right? Everyday grows in intensity and what we are going to do next 3 weeks is we are going to look at these 3 areas.
Today we are going to look at Thursday night, next week we will look at Friday afternoon and evening. And we are going to take a break at Monday Thursday of a very special time, I encourage you to come out, Thursday before Easter, we are going to look at the last supper from a little bit of different angle and Easter we are going to go at the most intense time of history I believe, Sunday morning but how we are going to do this and how we are going to tackle it is we are going to, because we were prior very familiar with these events but in order to understand and grasp the weight of them, we are going to be doing it through the eyes of Peter if you will.
Peter is the part of this last week especially these last three days and we are going to be looking at it through his interaction with Jesus, his interaction with these events, I call the cataclysmic weekend of the world and the big idea very simply is this, that we are helpless to change or stop God's redemptive plan and when I say we, I don't just mean non-believers because we could say that statement and we could state as Christians going about non-Christians, thank goodness no one can stop God's plan, but this text is going to confront us with the fact that sometimes we as Christians, we actually want to change or stop God's redemptive plan but we are helpless to.
The tagline is this is heart wrenching for us that we can't change or stop it, it's scary but ultimately it's very instructive for our life. The keyword is helpless, if I use the word helpless and I were to ask you so what is the situation you recently been in or are in that you feel helpless to, helpless towards? If I were to ask you one on one and sit down and say what are you helpless toward, you would explain the situation and I would say, so what do you feel, what does being helpless feel like, you would probably express things like I can't do anything about it, I have an inability to change it, I have no power, I have no control, I just have to sit back and just watch it happen and I don't like it, I hate it, it's excruciating, it's scary, it's hard; helpless, it is a lot of situations where we are helpless. I got sick on vacation, vacation I have been looking forward to a year in advance, I get sick, what do you do? I can't do anything about this, I have a virus and I might as well just let it run its course, Oh what timing! Right? Some of you experienced choices that your children have made and you are helpless to them, right? That was a bad choice and I can't do anything to fix it or go back for them.
Some of you have experienced a tragedy and you are helpless you can't do anything about. Some of you have experienced maybe a sentencing, it’s one thing to be before a judge and to feel like I can't do anything, he is going to give to me a sentence and that's just it or someone close to you. Today we are going to talk about the idea of being helpless, not in regards to life situation which we get the feeling, we can know what it feels like but we are going to talk about it in regards to salvation, regards to our salvation and that's where Matthew 26 comes in, we are going to enter into verse 31, this is after, Jesus just had the last supper and they are walking to the Garden of gethsemane right now, in the dark, him and 11 of his followers because Judas has just taken off to do his dirty deed. Jesus walking in the dark to the mount of olives, the garden of gethsemane, says this verse 31, then Jesus told them, his disciples, this very night you will all fall away on account of me for it is written I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. Verse 32, but after I have risen, I will go ahead of you in the Galilee. Peter replied, even if all fall away on account of you, I never will. Verse 34, I tell you the truth, Jesus answered. This very night Peter, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times but Peter declared even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you and all the other disciples said the same, okay?
The first episode we get here, we see Jesus making a prediction, he looks at this disciples and on the way there he knows what's going on, he has the weight on him and the disciples are maybe a little bit clueless, I don't know I am just walking, I guess he wants to pray in the Garden, okay, and Jesus feels, he feels necessary out of, I believe, his kindness and compassion and mercy to look at them and say, you are going to fall away but I will restore you but you are going to fall away. Speaking of predictions, how was your march man this bracket working right, anyways prediction, Jesus here, he implies that all of them lack courage, Jesus predicts this very night there will be an extreme test of their loyalty to him as their Lord, as their savior and they will fall and they will fail the test, that's what he says them you are going to fail this test. Now they will not seize being disciples because of this lack of courage although it will feel like that but they will all fail the test of courage to stand with him for him, what's interesting about this prediction is that Jesus, it says, he will restore them and this is what Jesus implies to them that strengthening comes through failure that there is a kind of strength that comes through experiencing helplessness, I will say that again; Jesus is saying there is a kind of strength that comes from experiencing helplessness. His 11 disciples will become the courageous foundation of the church, they are going to face persecution, many of them martyrs, but this doesn't happen naturally for them. Jesus predicts that none, what none of us really want to hear or admit, coming to the end of your self equips you to endure future tests, this kind of concept is very hard because I don't want to fail, we don't want to fail, we don't want to admit that we have failed and if someone predicts that we are going to fail, what do we do, we buck that prediction, we do exactly what Peter does, hey you guys aren't going to measure up! Oh really, I will show you, I can make this work, don't worry about it, I don't like your prediction, I will change the outcome of your prediction.
It's what we do, we do that. It's why Christianity is so hard and easy at the same time, that's why faith is so hard and easy at the same time. Accept Jesus Christ and you will be saved but accepting Jesus Christ means you renounce yourself that is backwards, it does not come naturally, it is a gift of God that we have to learn over and over and over again.
Peter digs in harder, he digs in harder, you can almost hear the slang in Peter's recoil, Jesus you don't know me the first time right, you don't know me, verse 33, even if all of them fall away on account of you, Jesus, you don't know me, I am not going to fall away, right? I mean you can almost hear Peter, I am as loyal as a golden retriever, right? I ain't leaving you, they all might wimp out, that's not me. This is what's called Bravado, Bravado, it's a swaggering display of courage, not a pure display of courage, swaggering display, I got this, I am the man, you don't know me! It's an exaggerated expression of what is only a sliver of courage, it is pompous, it is pretentious, it is ostentatious, it is showy, it is an over estimated understanding of one's self, bravado and I am afraid we all got it. Poor peter is full of Bravado here in Verse 33, like a kid with a cape and a foam sword riding his bike to take out a fire breathing dragon, going I am going to take this dragon out, ah, that's bravado. Do you wonder if you have it? Let me ask you if someone were to call you out, predict that you aren't nearly what you think you are, that you aren't going to measure up, isn't our natural response at least the cocky ego in all of us, to do what Peter did; You don't know me, but bravado also expresses itself not in cockiness but also in sensitive sincerity, you don't know me, man you don't understand, trust me that prediction won't come about. I think that's actually more of us than the cockiness, the cockiness you can call out, the false sincerity is what's difficult for us to call out, that's the same thing as bravado.
What's really interesting about Peter's Bravado here is you can see at the end of verse 35, is that, it motivates other people, this is the hard thing about bravado, it is a tool which motivates others to action. Jesus looks at all the disciples and say you are all going to fall away and Peter look around and goes, no, no, no I won't fall away and they are all like, yeah we are with Peter, he leads all of the other disciples to say no, you don't know us Jesus, we are disciples, you are our Rabi, we will not fall away, you will not have to restore us. This is why bravados are dangerous especially with regards to salvation, it's dangerous in lot of other regards because it gives us false sense of security, it gives a false sense of one's self strength but when you talk about in salvation, it is terrifying, thankfully Jesus is so compassionate because Peter says right, verse 33, his head and shoulders above everybody else and Jesus counters and actually reveals that Peter isn't head and shoulders above everybody else, in fact he is the lowest of the low of them all. Peter says, I have the most courage and Jesus says, no you actually have the least, before the sun comes up you are going to deny me 3 times. Instead of listening and backing down, Peter digs in harder, this is the scary thing about bravado as well, he is like, I would die before I disown you, right?
I would die before I disown you and that's how we read the conversation ended with a feeling from Peter that he passed the test, you can hear Peter going ha-ha! I passed the test but there is another feeling that Jesus had, softly shaking his head, knowing how much more work it is going to take to heal and restore Peter in light of his big bravado and show he just put on. In the garden of gethsemane, you know the story but we are going to read it, especially in this context, especially with this word bravado, especially with how the conversation ended. Verse 36 continues to read, then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called gethsemane and he said to them, sit here while I go over there and pray. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him and he began to be sorrowful and troubled, then he said to them, Peter included, Peter is right there, Jesus says to them, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, stay here, keep watch with me, got a little further, he found his face to the ground, he prayed my father if it's possible may this cup be taken from me yet not as I will but as you will, what a powerful statement. Jesus is in the throes of suffering and affliction and what comes out of his mouth is I don't want to do this God, but if it is your will, may it be my will. One example of submission, as Jesus is praying like that we are reading verse 40, then he returned to his disciples and he found them sleeping, could you men not keep watch with me for an hour and then he looks at Peter, he asked that to Peter, could you men not keep watch with me for an hour, watch me pray so that you peter will not fall into temptation, the spirit is willing but the body is weak, I mean this is humbling, Jesus says in verse 41 directly to Peter, the spirit is willing but the body is weak, this is the kindest way Jesus can coach Peter for what is about to happen. Peter couldn't stay awake with Jesus who just told them that he is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, he couldn't stay awake, if that was your friend, you would be called a bad friend, writings is on the wall, if you can't stay awake, there is no way you are able to stand with me, that's what Jesus kind of saying.
But I think Jesus is really trying to prepare Peter that things are taking place that Peter you can't change. Jesus's going to have to be crucified and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Jesus's spoken multiple times of his death to his disciples including his resurrection and we just read in verse 32 that Jesus says, After I have risen, I mean he has verbally told them, I am going to rise from the dead, but Peter's bravado blinds him from listening to that, from hearing that, from ultimately understanding all that is taking place. Peter's bravado tricks him into thinking that he has a good deal of control of things, situations and problems and Jesus's gently dissolving peter's bravado, trying to help him realize and come to embrace the divine story, he is looking at peter saying, Peter your little story isn't the divine plan, the divine story, what's being played out Peter, is not just your life, you are not the hero of this band of disciples, this is hard because when I ask the question, what did Jesus expect from his disciples here? When they are walking to the garden, he looks and says all of you are going to fall away but I will restore you, what does he expect from them or I mean 2 options come to my mind, Did Jesus expect and want them to fight against this, to fight for him, to resist what was coming, to create and forge a different path for all of this to be accomplished, is that what he wanted from them? Or did Jesus out of great love and compassion simply want them to embrace their helplessness in regards to how salvation was going to come about. Which one? What did he expect? Let's see.
Peter tries one of those ways, verse 47, says while he was still speaking, Jesus to them, Judith one of the 12 arrived, with him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs sent from a chief priest and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged his signal with them he called a kiss of death, right? The one I kisses the man, arrest him, going at once the Judith says in very polite language, greetings Rabi and kissed him. Jesus replied, friend, can you believe that? Jesus replies what? Friend! Do what you came for. Then the man stepped forward seized Jesus and arrested him, with that one of Jesus’s companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of high priest cutting off his ear, put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword, do you think I cannot call on my father and He will at once put up at my disposal more than 12 legions of angels but how then will the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way? Here it is, this is what we are wondering. Jesus's betrayed and then arrested and we are wondering what is Jesus expect from his disciples, does he want them to fight, I mean how is salvation going to go down, does he want them to change it, I mean I admire Peter's courage here, don't you? I mean this is Peter the one who draws the sword, John 18 tells us, the armed defender of Jesus is in fact Peter, he steps in to be the hero, he will put out as much effort and energy that is needed to protect Jesus from being arrested. He will even strike the servant of the high priest which would land him a healthy death sentence. So Jesus's arrest awakens Peter's bravado, oh, I don't know if I can use a plain word Jesus arrests Peter's bravado. It's the hardest part of the story for me, Peter isn't stopped by 6 guards jumping on him and holding him down, punching him, knocking him unconscious, this is humanity's natural response and this is how it was way to entertain us, get us dreaming that we would be able to impose our will when things aren't going the way we want, that is not faith in Jesus Christ, that is not how Christians live, it's not, this is how helplessness instructs us.
Peter once again, is not stopped by 6 guards restraining him, Peter is stopped by Jesus, stopped by Jesus. Luke tells us then that Jesus heals the ear of the servant of the high priest, Matthew tells us here that Jesus commands Peter, sheath your sword and Jesus gives this shocking statement to everyone but especially to Peter, looking right at Peter, his bravado, in a sense Jesus says, Peter don't you know by now that I have the power to stop all this but if I did, how would salvation come to the world, Peter, you are helpless here and you need to be okay with that, need to trust me, let this happen or else you won't be a part of it. Is there ever a time when I would be angry as a follower of Jesus, it would be right here. This is when I would be really angry if I would be peter, think of Peter, he gave up everything to follow Jesus, he will defend Jesus with his life but he's told no, not that way! no, you can't change this, you can't stop this and in a sense Jesus looks at him and says if you knew the whole story, the divine story, God's redemptive plan, Peter you would be ashamed of being so presumptuous, having so much bravado because it is blinding you, put down your sword.
And I asked you guys a question, do you think there are things that we dream up that we are willing to put forth a ton of effort towards that we think will help God’s cause, helps God's plan that he says no to, have you ever experienced something that you are just all in with and you just sense God's saying no, that's hard, it's humbling, it's against the grain of how we are really trained and wired. This kind of instruction of a very hard to heed is essential in living a life of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I am helpless to God's redemptive plan, that's heart wrenching to me because I don't want Jesus to die and I don't want to have to go through certain things and I don't want to have my friends go through certain things, and I don't want to watch my children go through certain things. Jesus says no, trust me, embrace that you are helpless, to save yourself, to save others and you will find life. That God says that we must submit to his ways, his plans, it isn't him being mean, it's him saying if we don't submit to his ways and his plans, then they aren't his ways and his plans. It's a question of what do you really want? Do you want God's ways and God's plans or do you not want God's ways and God's plans, learn to be helpless, learn to embrace that you are helpless to save yourself and you are helpless to save others, you cannot be the hero, learn to embrace and keeping step with where God's spirit is walking and you will find yourself never out front with the sword, backing things down, you will find yourself being tugged along and a journey that's much bigger than you or your own life. That's when you find meaning and purpose and significance in the midst of a life that is downright confusing and oppressive but redeemable by the work of Jesus Christ. Peter is the hero here, you know that, if maybe you will be like, he has bashed on Peter, Peter is actually the hero here, he is not the hero because he rose up and cut a guy’s ear off in the name of Jesus, change that phrase a little bit and how many things we do in the name of Jesus that makes us not the hero, instead what makes Peter the hero here is that he submitted to his saviors request of putting down your sword and embrace being helpless because then you will know salvation and you will know savior that is not you or someone else, then you will know the joy of heart. Jesus didn't want Peter to die by the sword, but Peter did die, Peter would be murdered for his faith but Peter had to fail here or else he wouldn't die for his faith but he would rather die for his bravado, his pride, his plans, him being his own savior and the savior to others, that’s why failure is essential for us as followers of Jesus. We must fail at saving ourselves if you haven't yet, keep trying.
If you haven't failed at saving yourself, listen to Jesus saying no, just stop. We have to fail at also saving others if you haven't failed at saving others, keep trying, if you haven't failed at saving others, listen to Jesus saying, Peter don't lead the 11 other disciples in the same area as you, you must fail at listening to Jesus so we learn our need to listen to him. Verse 55 and 56 are just close and wrap up briefly here, it says, at that time Jesus said to the crowd who's gathered with clubs and swords, am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me, every day I sat in the temple teaching and you didn't arrest me but this has all taken place at the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled, then all the disciples what? Deserted him and we see that Jesus's prediction begins to unfold, couple of takeaways.
These are hard takeaways because we are in the middle of a story, there is no like pure wrap up conclusion here other than you are all going to fall away, other than this, you at times are going to fail and having the courage to stick with Jesus, that doesn't mean you are out of his redemptive plan because Jesus restores his disciples, he restores us, he restores us. When we fail, we learn that he is a God that restores us, who redeems, who forgives and who saves. Why must we embrace being helpless? It’s the simple reason, you have to embrace this so that we see that we can't save ourselves and we can't save others, when we are helpless we give off the vibe that we are not the hero and that is a great thing. I want to be the hero and every Hollywood movie that just has this average guy off the street become this great hero and at the end of the movie, he does phenomenal things, I want that to be my story but that can't be my story if I am the hero, the story of Christianity is me desperately looking for someone to be my hero and when I find him, I let everyone else know he is yours too, this is an amazing story that I am a part of, and it is not just my story, it's for all of us, he's the man, he's my hero, he's got it, I am helpless, I can't do what he can do and he came to do the very thing that I would never be able to do, he is it, he is all I want. Embrace being helpless, it is so heart wrenching, scary, instructive, fulfilling. Last thing how does your bravado show itself, that's the key question, how does your bravado show itself, indifference, I don't really need him, like Adam will see like, I can help him , how does it show itself?
Think about how it showed in through Peter's. Like Peter we shy away from appearing or being perceived as weak, why? We don't like it to be known that we have limits, why? Bravado. Like Peter we exaggerate our abilities, our influence, our gifts, even our good works, we exaggerate them, why? Bravado. We put our mouth where our money can't go, we boast still we cannot back up, why? Bravado. My heart this morning is broken because it is a hard thing to be helpless, it is a hard thing to admit that I am helpless even something I may already know, i am helpless in his... It is once again very hard to be confronted with that reality. Jesus had to go to the cross, I don't want Jesus to die but he had to, I didn't want Jesus to experience pain and suffering and abandonment but he had to and I am sorry.