“Emmanuel Betrayed” – Matthew 26:31-75

September 11th, 2016

Matthew 26:31-75

(see also Mark 14:27-72; Luke 22:39-65; John 13: 36-38; 18:1-11, 24-27)

“Emmanuel Betrayed”

Auxiliary Text: Isa 53

Call to Worship from: Psalm 56 


Service Orientation: We find it hard to trust in Jesus because we trust ourselves.   If we were to truly look at the evidence and judge rightly it would be the other way around.   We blaspheme God by our prideful unwillingness to trust Him.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:   Here is a trustworthy saying:  If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. —2 Timothy 2:11-13


Background Information:

  • (v. 31) In Zechariah, God commanded that the shepherd be struck down. As a result, the sheep would be scattered.  Without a shepherd and on their own, the sheep would go through a period of great trial and be refined.  The refining process would strengthen them and create a new, faithful people for God.  The disciples would be staggered by what would happen to Jesus, but his death (“striking the shepherd”) would ultimately produce their salvation and regather the sheep.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 519)
  • (v. 34) It may well be that the cock-crow was not the voice of a bird; and that from the beginning it was not meant to mean that. After all, the house of the high priest was right in the center of Jerusalem, and it is unlikely that there would have been poultry in the center of the city.  There was, in fact, a regulation in the Jewish law that it was illegal to keep cocks and hens in the holy city, because they defiled the holy things.  But the hour of 3 am was called cock-crow, and for this reason.  At that hour, the Roman guard was changed in the Castle of Antonia; and the sign of the changing of the guard was a trumpet-call.  The Latin for that trumpet-call was gallicinium, which means cock-crow.  It is at least possible that just as Peter made his third denial, the trumpet from the castle battlements rang out over the sleeping city–the gallicinium, the cock-crow–and Peter remembered; and thereupon he went and wept his heart out.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 404-5)
  • (v. 38) Jesus was sorrowful and troubled over his approaching death because he would be forsaken by the Father (27:46), would have to bear the sins of the world, and would face a terrible execution. The divine course was set, but Jesus, in his human nature, still struggled (Heb 5:7-9).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 522)
  • (v. 38) Now, as his horrible death and separation from the Father loomed before him, he was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. So he asked Peter, James, and John to stay with him and keep watch.  Jesus knew Judas would soon arrive, and Jesus wanted to devote himself to prayer until that time came.  Jesus also wanted them to stay awake and participate with him in his suffering.  Spiritual vigilance is a vital part of discipleship and a key theme in this book.  Jesus wanted these disciples to understand his suffering and to be strengthened by his example when they faced persecution and suffering.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 522)
  • (v. 38) Jesus was deeply grieved to the point of death because of His having to become sin. That was the unbearably excruciating prospect that made Him sweat great drops of blood.  Holiness is totally repulsed by sin.  The prophet Habakkuk revealed this when he wrote, “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor” (Hb 1:13).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 173)
  • (v. 39) Jesus drank from the cup of God’s wrath so we might never have to drink it. In place of that cup we have the communion cup, which is the cup of the new covenant in Christ’s blood.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 567)
  • (v. 40) In fairness, it should be noted that sleep is often a means of escape, and the disciples may have slept more out of frustration, confusion, and depression than apathy. They could not bring themselves to face the truth that their dear friend and Lord, the promised Messiah of Israel, not only would suffer mockery and pain at the hands of wicked men but would even be put to death by them.  As a physician, Luke perhaps was especially diagnostic in viewing their emotional state, and he reports that, as we might expect, they were “sleeping from sorrow” (22:45).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 175)
  • (v. 45) Jesus had spent the last few hours with the Father, wrestling with him, and humbly submitting to him. Now he was prepared to face his betrayer and the sinners who were coming to arrest him.  “Sinners” was the term used for Jews who did not live according to God’s will and for Gentiles, who were viewed collectively as sinners because they didn’t live by God’s law.  Jesus probably used the term to refer to the priestly authorities who were participating in Jesus’ arrest, mockery, and death.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 526)
  • (v. 49) Because of his lowly status, a slave would kiss the feet of his master or other notable person, as would an enemy seeking mercy from a monarch. Ordinary servants would perhaps kiss the back of the hand of the one they greeted, and those above the level of servant would sometimes kiss the palm of the hand.  To kiss the hem of a person’s garment was a sign of reverence and devotion.  But an embrace and a kiss on the cheek was the sign of close affection and love, reserved only for those with whom one had a close, intimate relationship.  A kiss and embrace were an accepted mark of affection of a pupil for his teacher, for example, but only if the teacher offered them first.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 186)
  • (v. 49) In the ancient Jewish world, there were certain protocols that were observed in the rabbi-student relationship, and these rules were never to be disobeyed. One of those rules was this: If ever a rabbi met one of his students on the street, the rabbi was to speak first, extending his greetings to his student, because the student was not above the master.  It was considered exceedingly rude, presumptuous, and arrogant for a student to speak to his rabbi before the rabbi spoke to him.  The rabbi was supposed to initiate the greeting.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 767)
  • (v. 49) Kissed translates an intensified form of the verb used in verse 48 and carries the idea of fervent, continuous expression of affection. It was the word used by Luke of the woman who came into the Pharisee’s house and kissed Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her hair and anointing them with perfume (Lk 7:38, 45).  It was also used by Luke to describe the father’s reception of the repentant son in the parable of the prodigal (15:20) and of the grieving Ephesian elders on the beach near Miletus as they bade farewell to their beloved Paul (Acts 20:37).  It was just such intense affection that Judas feigned for Christ.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 187)
  • (v. 50) The end of verse 50 reads, “Then they [the crowd] came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.” Throughout this Gospel only Jesus laid his hands on others–to heal them.  But here he allows the sick in soul to lay their hands on him.  Why?  Well, to heal them in a far different way.  Lo, he goes “into the hands of sinners” (cf. 17:22; 26:45) to open wide his hands for the salvation of sinners.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 811)
  • (v. 51) When John tells the same story (Jn 18:10), he tells us that the disciple was Peter, and the servant was Malchus. The reason why John names Peter, and Matthew does not, may simply be that John was writing much later, and that when Matthew was writing it was still not safe to name the disciple who had sprung so quickly to his Master’s defense.  Here we have still another instance of the almost fantastic courage of Peter.  He was willing to take on the mob alone; and let us always remember that it was after that, when he was a marked man, that Peter followed Jesus right into the courtyard to the high priest’s house.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 410)
  • (v. 57) The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews. It was composed of scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and elders of the people; it numbered seventy-one members; and it was presided over by the high priest.  For a trial such as this, a quorum was twenty-three.  It had certain regulations.  All criminal cases must be tried during the daytime and must be completed during the daytime.  Criminal cases could not be transacted during the Passover season at all.  Only if the verdict was “not guilty” could a case be finished on the day it was begun; otherwise a night must elapse before the pronouncement of the verdict, so that feelings of mercy might have time to arise.  Further, no decision of the Sanhedrin was valid unless it met in its own meeting place, the Hall of Hewn Stone in the Temple precincts.  All evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses separately examined and having no contact with each other.  And false witness was punishable by death.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 412-3)
  • (v. 57) The Sanhedrin was the most powerful religious and political body of the Jewish people. Although the Romans controlled Israel’s government, they gave the people power to handle religious disputes and some civil disputes; so the Sanhedrin made many of the local decisions affecting daily life.  But a death sentence had to be authorized by the Romans (Jn 18:31).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 531)
  • (v. 57) Members of local sanhedrins were to be chosen because of their maturity and wisdom, and the Great Sanhedrin was to be composed of those who had distinguished themselves in a local council and had served a form of apprenticeship in the national council. But long before Jesus’ day, membership in the Great Sanhedrin had degenerated largely into appointments based on religious or political favoritism and influence.  The Herods, especially Herod the Great, exercised considerable control over the Great Sanhedrin, and even the pagan Romans sometimes became involved in the appointment or removal of a high priest.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 198-9)
  • (v. 59) To guard against false witnessing, whether given out of revenge or for a bribe, the Mosaic law prescribed that a person who knowingly gave false testimony would suffer the punishment the accused would suffer if found guilty (Dt 19:16-19). A person who gave false testimony in a trial that involved capital punishment, for example, would himself be put to death.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 199)
  • (v. 59) Rabbinical law required that a sentence of death could not be carried out until the third day after it was rendered and that during the intervening day the members of the court were to fast. That provision had the effect of preventing a trial during a feast, when fasting was prohibited.  The delay of execution also provided additional time for evidence or testimony to be discovered in the defendant’s behalf.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 199)
  • (v. 61) According to their testimony, then, Jesus was a defamer of the temple. In later days a similar false charge would be leveled against Stephen (Acts 6:14) and against Paul (Acts 21:28).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 930-1)
  • (v. 61) The witnesses claimed that Jesus had said he could destroy the temple in Jerusalem–a blasphemous boast. Such a claim would bring wrath from even the Romans because destroying temples was considered a capital offense throughout the Roman empire.  However, Jesus had not spoken in the first person (“I will destroy”); nor had he said anything linking his words with the temple building.  Instead, Jesus had spoken in the second person plural, issuing a command, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19 NKVJ).  Jesus, of course, was talking about his body, not the building.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 533)
  • (v. 61) A man as shrewd as Caiaphas could hardly have been unaware of what Jesus’ enigmatic saying implied. He must have understood it perfectly, realizing that it was a claim to divinity, even though it was not in a form sufficiently clear to secure a formal condemnation.

The fact that Caiaphas and the others did actually understand Jesus’ words in this way is proved by something that happened after the crucifixion.  Matthew says that the leaders went to Pilate, saying, “Sir,. . . we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 585)

  • (v. 61) What he did was illegal. The high priest was forbidden to intervene in a capital trial, and he could cast his vote only after the other court members had cast theirs.  Nevertheless, what he did was a stroke of political genius.  Seeing that the case was dissolving, Caiaphas suddenly turned to the prisoner and demanded on the basis of the most solemn oath in Israel, the Oath of the Testimony, “I charge you under oath by the living God:  Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (v. 63).

This was brilliant for two reasons.  First, the wording of the challenge was precise.  If Caiaphas had asked only if Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus could have answered yes without jeopardy, for it was not a capital offense to make such a claim.  Time would prove it either right or wrong.  Again, if Caiaphas had asked only if Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus could also have answered yes without danger, for he had diffused a similar accusation earlier when he reminded his accusers that many Jews were called sons’ of God (Jn 10:34-36, quoting Ps 82:6).  However, by combining the two parts as he did, Caiaphas was asking not merely if Jesus was the Messiah or a son of God in some general sense, but whether he was the Messiah who was God.  If Jesus said yes to that, he could be convicted of the capital crime of blasphemy.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 585-6)

  • (v. 64) That’s an odd and guarded way to phrase it. Why not answer the question directly, “Yes, I am the Messiah”?  What’s with the “as you have said” or “that is your way of putting it”?  I think Jesus answers this way because his view of the Messiah and the high priest’s are not quite identical.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 820)
  • (v. 65) By his traditional and theatrical display, Caiaphas dramatically gave the appearance of defending God’s name, but inwardly he gloated over the illegal, unjust, and devilish victory he imagined he had just won. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 208)
  • But before we condemn him, (Peter) we must remember very clearly that few of us would ever have had the courage to be in that courtyard at all. And there is one last thing to be said–it was love which gave Peter that courage; it was love which riveted him there in spite of the fact that he had been recognized three times; it was love which made him remember the words of Jesus; it was love which sent him out into the night to weep–and it is love which covers a multitude of sins.  The lasting impression of this whole story is not of Peter’s cowardice, but of Peter’s love.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 405)


No one can read this passage without being struck with the staggering honesty of the NT.  If ever there was an incident which one might have expected to be hushed up, this was it–and yet here it is told in all its stark shame.  We know that Matthew very closely followed the narrative of Mark; and in Mark’s gospel this story is told in even more vivid detail (Mk 14:66-72).  We also know, as Papias, the first-century Bishop of Hierapolis, tells us, that Mark’s gospel is nothing other than the preaching material of Peter written down.  And so we arrive at the amazing fact that we possess the story of Peter’s denial because Peter himself told it to others.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 403)


The question to be answered is . . . What is Matthew trying to communicate in these verses concerning Jesus’ arrest and trial?


Answer:  Jesus is accused of blasphemy when in reality everyone is blaspheming God except Jesus.   We trust ourselves because we believe we are faithful, true, honest, and possess integrity.  When in reality, we are unfaithful, liars, dishonest and have little or no integrity.   We need to see the truth and see ourselves as we truly are and trust Jesus.


Whatever we get bored with, we perceive as smaller than us.  (Peter Kreft in a lecture entitled The Mystery of the Sea”)


Strongs # 988/987 “Blasphemy” = “. . . all ungodly speech and action, especially on the part of the Gentiles, or human arrogance with its implied depreciation of God.   A violation of the power and majesty of God.  For Christians it is blasphemy to throw doubt on the lawful Messianic claim of Jesus, to deride Christ in His unity with the Father and the Bearer of divine majesty.  False teaching is blasphemy when it perverts from the way of Truth.  Any bad or unloving action can contain it, either because it resists the holy will of God or because it causes the enemies of Christianity to calumniate (defame or slander) it.  (Gerhard Kittle;  Theological Dictionary of the NT, 621-4)


The Word for the Day is . . . blasphemy


Blasphemy is one of the most serious iniquities in the OT because it denies and makes sport of the overwhelming concept of all the OT history and law, namely the sovereignty of the Creator.   More than any other act of man it eradicates the fundamental creator-creature distinction upon which all cosmic law orders are based.  (Merrill C. Tenney; The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol I, A-D, 522)


But the Jews who boast of the law and yet fail to keep its basic precepts are themselves accused of blasphemy (Rom 2:24). (Geoffrey G. Bromiley; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. I, A-D, p. 522)


What is Matthew trying to tell us?:

I-  Jesus, the only one Who is honest, faithful, holy, righteous, just and filled with integrity, is accused of blasphemy.  (Mt 26:65; see also Mt 27:4; Lk 23:41; Acts 13:28; 2 Cor 5:21; Col 1:28; Heb 1:1-4; 2:10; 5:9; 7:28; 10:14; 1 Pt 2:22; 1 Jn 3:5)


This was a cup he truly hated to drink.  In addition, Jesus, as God’s Son, knew constant fellowship with the Father.  Yet for a time on the cross he would have to be deprived of that fellowship.  This was a bitter cup. The physical suffering would be horrible enough (Heb 5:7-9), but God’s Son also had to accept the cup of spiritual suffering–bearing our sin and being separated from God (27:46).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 523)


Blasphemy was the sin of claiming to be God or of attacking God’s authority and majesty in any way.  Caiaphas tore his clothes to signify his outrage at the audacity of the claims with God by applying two messianic prophecies to himself.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 535)


Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that Jesus was condemned to death for telling the truth.  (G. J. and M. J. Albrecht, The People’s Bible: Matthew, 399)


In the OT, “cup” stood for the trial of suffering and the wrath of God (Isa 51:17).  So Jesus referred to the suffering that he must endure as the “cup” he would be required to drink.  Yet Jesus humbly submitted to the Father’s will.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 522-3)


We will miss a great deal about Peter’s denial of Jesus unless we see it in its context, for Matthew’s arrangement of this account, two matter of context are worth noting.

First, Peter’s denial of Jesus stands in contrast to the story of Jesus’ trial by the Sanhedrin that precedes it (vv. 57-68).  Both are interrogation stories.  In the first, Jesus is questioned by the high priests who are his enemies.  In the second, Peter is questioned by the high priest’s servants.  In both stories the speakers affirm the truthfulness of what they are saying by oaths.  But Jesus’ oath is a proper oath, confirming his true and bold confession, while Peter’s oath is a lie.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 589-90)


Here the hypocrisy of the high priest become very clear.  He acts as if he is overwhelmed with grief, though he could have shouted for joy.  The man puts on a real show.  He tears his high priestly robe, and says, “He has blasphemed,” using the word “blasphemed” in its gravest sense:  unjustly he has claimed for himself the prerogatives that belong to God alone.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 933)


But Caiaphas had another tactic up the sleeve of his priestly robe.  He decided to ask Jesus point-blank, Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.  The Sanhedrin must have held their collective breath in anticipation.  Here was the question that could make or break the entire plot.  Would Jesus outrightly claim to be the Messiah?  We may wonder why Jesus refused to answer the first question and then chose to answer this one.  Caiaphas put Jesus under oath so that Jesus would be forced to answer by law (Lv 5:1); thus he would be forced to incriminate himself.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 534)


Jesus used the highest titles for God’s deity and then applied them to himself.  Jesus declared his royalty in no uncertain terms.  In saying he was the Son of Man, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, as his listeners well knew.  How ironic that this declaration is given to the high priest, Jesus’ greatest opponent.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 535)


II-  Everyone in this passage is guilty of blasphemy in its various forms and expressions.  (Mt 26:31-75)


We allow our life to become bigger than God.  — Julie Beeker


A-  Everyone blasphemes God when life begins and ends with us rather than God and others.  (Mt 26:33-35, 40-45, 69-74; see also: Psa 5:8-9; 94:11; Isa 53:6; 64:6; Jer 17:9; Jn 3:19; Rom 3:10-18, 23; 12:10; Phil 2:3-4; 1 Jn 1:8-9)


There is no subtler perversion of the Christian Faith than to treat it as a mere means to a worldly end, however admirable that end in itself may be.  The Christian Faith is important because it is true.  What it happens to achieve, in ourselves or in others, is another and, strictly speaking, secondary matter.  From the Christian Faith will remain true whether we who profess it turn into heroic saints or into even more miserable sinners.  We must insist that we worship God because he is God, not because we want something out of him.  What a mean blasphemy it would be, to go through magnificent acts of public worship always with the dominant intention at the back of the mind—“This is really going to make a better chap of me!”  What arrogance and presumption, to treat eternal God, throned in glory, as a visual aid to moral self-improvement.  (Harry Blamires; The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think?, 110)


B-  Everyone blasphemes God when we don’t take God seriously.  (Mt 26: see also: 1 Sm 13:1-12; Isa 53; Acts 5:1-11)


Because they did not take seriously the Lord’s warnings about their deficiencies and frailties, they did not take seriously His admonition to be prepared and strengthened.  Self-confidently trusting their own judgment above the Lord’s, they were indifferent to His call to prayer.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 213)


Peter either missed or disregarded what Jesus had just said about His being raised and appearing to them.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 161)


The elders were charged with the defense of anyone in danger of being put to death.  They should have asked whether Jesus’ claims matched what the OT taught concerning the Messiah.  If they had investigated Jesus’ case fairly, they might have discovered:

  1. According to Scripture, the Messiah was to have been born in Bethlehem, and Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2; Lk 2:1-7).
  2. The Messiah was to be virgin born, and Jesus was born of Mary, who was a virgin at the time (Isa 7:14; Mt 1:24, 25; Lk 1:26-30).
  3. The Messiah was to be of David’s line, and Jesus was descended from King David (2 Sm 7:12, 16; Isa 11:1-2; Mt 1:1-16; Lk 3:23-37).
  4. The Messiah was to be preceded by a figure like Elijah, and John the Baptist filled that role (Mal 3:1; 4:5; Mt 17:12-13; Jn 1:19-23).
  5. The Messiah was to do many great works, and Jesus had performed the works that had been prophesied (Isa 61:1-2; Mt 11:1-6; Lk 4:16-21).
  6. The Messiah was to make a public entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and Jesus had done this just a few days before (Zech 9:9; Mt 21:1-11).
  7. The Messiah was to be betrayed by a close friend, and Jesus was so betrayed (Ps 41:9; Mt 26:14-15; 27:3-8).
  8. The Messiah was to be despised and rejected by his people and to be familiar with suffering, and Jesus was (Isa 53:2-3). (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 586-7)


C-  Everyone blasphemes God when we trust ourselves rather than God.  (Mt 26:33-35; see also: Prov 3:5-6); Mk 11:22; Acts 20:21; Rom 3:26; Jam 2:14-26)


Let us learn, from this passage, lessons of humiliation and self-abasement.  Let us resolve, by God’s grace, to cultivate a spirit of lowliness, and self-distrust.  Let us settle it in our minds that there is nothing too bad for the very best of us to do unless he watches, prays and is held up by the grace of God; and let it be one of our daily prayers.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 266)


Peter did not take seriously the voice of the living God he confessed with his mouth, and he rejected and resented His reproof.  Like many believers since, he proudly refused to submit Himself to God’s Word and Spirit.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 213)


The disciples were still ignorant about many things.  They were ignorant of their own weakness and of Satan’s strength.  They were ignorant of the great power that fear would soon have over them.  And they would not accept Jesus’ interpretation of the OT prophecy He had just quoted regarding the shepherd’s being struck and the sheep being scattered.  In other words they were willfully ignorant, because they persisted in trusting their own understanding above the Lord’s.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 163)


What a difference the presence and power of Jesus Christ makes.  He is able to turn cowards into heroes, foolish persons into those who are wise, and sinners into saints.  He will do it for you if you will turn from your foolish self-confidence, embrace the gospel, and lean on him for your daily strength and courage.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 579)


Mark reports that Peter repeatedly insisted on his loyalty (Mk 14:31).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 213)


Proud, self-confident Peter, convinced of the strength of his love for Jesus, presumptuously proclaimed himself to be the truest of the true.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 161)


He (Peter) was not as strong as he thought he was.  In fact, he was actually cowardly and weak, and his failure was worse even than that of the other disciples because they did not deny Jesus.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 593)


Peter probably would have denied that he looked down on the others.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 593)


But deep in his heart Peter thought he was the most upright, the most perceptive, and the most courageous one.  That is why he responded to Jesus’ warning about the pending failure of the other disciples as he did.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 593)


D-  Everyone blasphemes God when we believe we know better than God(Mt 26:33-35, 69-74; see also: Isa 55:6-9)


When we complain, what we are really saying is, “I could have done a better job than God in this instance.  If I had made the choice, I would have done this and so…”  This is blasphemy.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 95)


He was telling Jesus that he was mistaken, that he was out-and-out wrong.  What a foolish thing to do!  How absurd to contradict the only person who has never been mistaken, never spoken wrongly, and never told a single lie.  Human beings are frequently wrong in their perceptions.  Jesus is never wrong, never confused, never mistaken.  Nevertheless, Peter did not believe Jesus’ warning.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 593)


Peter did not believe his Master this time any more than he had a few hours earlier.  With amazing brashness and pride, he obviously thought that, wise as Jesus was, He was mistaken about the dependability and courage of his foremost disciple.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 162)


This passage shows us something about Peter.  Surely his fault is clear–overconfidence in himself.  He knew that he loved Jesus–that was never in doubt–and he thought that all by himself he could face any situation that might arise.  He thought that he was stronger than Jesus knew him to be.  We shall be safe only when we replace the confidence which boasts by the humility which knows its weakness and which depends not on itself but on the help of Christ.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 401-2)


Peter had been told to pray, but he did not.  He fell asleep like the others, did not receive the strength through prayer that Jesus did, and then denied Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest before mere servants.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 593)


Luke reports that Jesus told the disciples now that they should “pray that [they might] not enter into temptation” (Lk 22:40; cf. Mt 6:13), a warning He later repeated (Mt 26:41).  But there is not indication that they uttered a single breath of prayer, no hint that they called on the Father to strengthen them.  In smug self-confidence, they still thought of themselves as loyal, dependable, and invincible.  Like many believers throughout the history of the church, they foolishly mistook their good intentions for strength.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 168)


Based on his feelings of self-confidence and devotion to Jesus, Peter considered himself incapable of disloyalty.  He could imagine nothing that would cause him to waver, and not even the Lord’s explicit prediction could convince him otherwise.  He was certain he had come to the place of spiritual maturity, with his priorities straight, his conviction steadfast, and his faithfulness invulnerable.  It was therefore inconceivable to him that he could be capable of defecting from the Lord.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 212)


The last time Peter contradicted Jesus’ word was when Jesus first talked about going up to Jerusalem to die.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 786)


Because Peter boasted too loudly, prayed too little, slept too much, and acted too fast, he seemed invariably to miss the point of what Jesus was saying and doing.  The Lord therefore had to explain to him again that what was happening was in God’s perfect plan.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 191)


E-  Everyone blasphemes God when we look to technology, power, intelligence or human strength for help rather than God.  (Mt 26:5-56; see also: 2 Chr 16:12; Ps 40:4; 56:4; 56:11; 118:8; Isa 2:22; 53; Jer 17:5-6) 


The church has never made advances by physical warfare, and every time it has tried, the cause of Christ has been severely harmed.  There are no holy wars.  Every war fought in the name of Christ has been utterly unholy, contradicting and undermining everything His Word teaches.  The kingdom of God does not advance with fleshly weapons or by fleshly strategy.  The battleground is spiritual, and it makes no sense to fight with physical weapons.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 189)


Jesus told Peter to put away his sword and allow God’s plan to unfold.  Peter didn’t understand that Jesus had to die in order to gain victory.  But Jesus demonstrated perfect commitment to his Father’s will.  His kingdom would not be advanced with swords, but with faith and obedience.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 528)


What is one sword to him who could command an army of angels with one word?  He did not need the help of a few sleepy disciples.  He could call upon legions of angels, but he refused to do so because he had already settled this matter with God during his previous hours of prayer.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 529)


A full Roman legion was composed of 6,000 soldiers.  More than twelve legions of angels therefore would be in excess of 72,000.  If a single angel of God could slay 185,000 men in one night, as with the Assyrian troops of Sennacherib (2 Kgs 19:35), the power of 72,000 angels is unimaginable.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 191)


If you want to know what Jesus thinks about Christians bombing abortion clinics or crusading against the Muslims, wonder no more.  Perhaps there is even something symbolic about the servant’s ear being cut off, for where Christians have used violence to promote (or protect?) Christianity, those regions of the world are somehow least receptive to the gospel.  Having no ears, they cannot hear!  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 807)


The sword is never to be used in propagating the gospel.  Never.  A violent church is a dead church.  A cutting-off-the-ears church is a stabbed-in-the heart church.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 808)


A Roman legion was six thousand men.  Twelve legions of angels would have been seventy-two thousand angels.  Clearly, Jesus did not need to be defended.  He was arrested because he was willing to be arrested.  He suffered a voluntary death for our sins.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 576)


F-  Everyone blasphemes God when we are sloppy with the Truth without realizing we are rebelling against the God of Truth.  (Mt 26:59-68; see also:  Isa 53; Mt 5:33-37; 7:15; Jn 8:44-46; Rom 1:18-25; 2 Tim 2:15; 2 Pet 2:1-2; 1 Jn 1:6; 2:20-22)


They had closed their minds to the truth, and no amount of evidence would open their eyes to it.  Like many people throughout the ages who have rejected Christ, it was not that they had carefully examined the evidence about Him and found it to be untrue or unconvincing but that they refused to consider the evidence at all.  Even God’s own Holy Spirit cannot penetrate such a willful barrier to His truth and grace.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 208)


Lie upon lie, perjury upon perjury, false charge upon false charge was made against Jesus within His hearing, but He said nothing to defend Himself, fulfilling prophecies about Him: “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa 53:7b).  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 773)


Jesus knew that no amount of truth or logic would dissuade His enemies from executing their plot against Him.  They knew their charges were spurious and unjust and that they had had countless opportunities to arrest Him publicly.  But when evil men are determined to have their way, they will not be deterred by such considerations as truth, justice, legality, or righteousness.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 192)


The religious leaders wanted to get this trial under way, but they had a dilemma on their hands.  They wanted evidence to convict Jesus of a crime deserving death, but they did not find any.  The obvious conclusion should have been that Jesus was innocent of any crime.  But this was not a trial for justice; it was a trial to accomplish an evil purpose.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 532)


These leaders held a trial to keep up appearances, while their whole purpose was to kill Jesus.  Matthew pointed out the irony of the Sanhedrin breaking the law in order to keep the law.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 532)


He had nothing to say to the group of liars who had spoken against him, and he did not choose to answer their false accusations.  So he remained silent.  This had been prophesied in Scripture: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isa 53:7 NIV).  With Jesus’ silence, the court proceedings ground to a halt.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 534)


Matthew tells us that he “began to curse and swear,” insisting vehemently that he did not know Jesus.  The Greek verb that is translated here as “curse” is related to the Greek word anathema, which means “damnation.”  Peter essentially was pronouncing a curse on those who associated him with Jesus, saying that his accusers deserved to be damned.  He unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse at the suggestion that he was a follower of Jesus, insisting that he did not know his Lord.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 780)


We wonder if Peter is calling down a curse on himself or on Jesus, for the word “himself” could refer to Jesus.  I think, however, the “himself” refers to Peter, the sense being, “Let me be damned if I’m lying.”  I say that because Peter intentionally never mentions Jesus’ name.  The girls say, “Jesus the Galilean” and “Jesus of Nazareth.”  But Peter does not say, “Oh no, it’s Jesus the Christ or Jesus the Son of Man.”  He doesn’t even say, “I do not know Jesus.”  Instead (twice), he says, “I do not know the man.”  Here Peter only had one salvation in mind–saving his own skin.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 789)


G-  Everyone blasphemes God when we wrongly perceive God as being ignorant, powerless, loveless and unfaithful; when in reality nothing is further from the truth.  (Mt 26:64-68)  


Caiaphas, likely embracing the popular concept of the day, thought of the Messiah as a nationalistic military liberator:  Christ=Victorious War Hero.  And perhaps giving Jesus a beating, and Jesus taking it without a fight, merely confirmed his suspicions that Jesus couldn’t possibly be the Messiah.  The Christ would fight back and win.  Jesus’ view of the Messiah, needless to say, was different.  For now his Christ equation was:  Christ=Suffering Servant.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 820)


Jesus speaks in this way, not because Caiaphas has spoken the truth of himself without any revelation (Kingsbury, Matthew, 64), but because Caiaphas’ understanding of “Messiah” and “Son of God” is fundamentally inadequate.  Jesus is indeed the Messiah and so must answer affirmatively.  But he is not quite the Messiah Caiaphas has in mind; so he must answer cautiously and with some explanation.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 555)


H-  Everyone blasphemes God in their pride.  They refuse to submit to God as Lord over all.  (Mt 26:35, 36-46; see also:  Isa 53; Lk 10:17; Rom 10:3; 13:1-7; Eph 5:21-33; Heb 12:9; Jam 4:7; 1 Pt 2:13)


In these prayers, as in all His others, Jesus gives His followers a perfect example. Not only do we learn to confront temptation with prayer but we learn that prayer is not a means of bending God’s will to our own but of submitting our wills to His.  If Jesus submitted His perfect will to the Father’s, how much more should we submit our imperfect wills to His?  True prayer is yielding to what God wants for and of us, regardless of the cost–even if the cost is death.  The nature or character of our praying in the face of temptation should be to cry out to the Lord for His strength to resist the impulse to rebel against God’s will, which is what all sin is.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 177)


To this day, when people are brought face to face with Jesus Christ, they must either hate him or love him; they must either submit to him or desire to destroy him.  No one who realizes what Jesus Christ demands can possibly be neutral. The choice must be between becoming his loyal servant or becoming his foe.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 415)


*   Even before the trial began, it had been determined that Jesus must die (Jn 11:50; Mk 14:1).  There was no “innocent until proven guilty” approach.

*    False witnesses were sought to testify against Jesus (Mt 26:59).  Usually the religious leaders went through an elaborate system of screening witnesses to ensure justice.

*    No prepared defense or representative counsel for Jesus was sought or allowed (Lk 22:67-71).

*    The trial was conducted at night (Mk 14:53-65; 15:1), which was illegal according to the religious leaders’ laws for Sanhedrin trials.

*    The high priest put Jesus under oath, but then incriminated him for what he said (Mt 26:63-66).

*    Cases involving such serious charges were to be tried only in the Sanhedrin’s regular meeting place, not in the high priest’s palace (Mk 14:53-65).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 536)


Nothing is more likely to turn persons away from a pastor’s guidance than that pastor’s own behaviors that clearly reveal that he does not take his own precepts seriously:  When they observe that our actions are unworthy of the words we utter, they turn to blasphemy, saying that it is a myth and a deception. (II Clement, Sec. V, par. 13, AF, 66)


III-  We need to learn to trust in Jesus, the only One who enjoys a right relationship with the God of the Universe.  Everyone else is guilty of blasphemy.  (Prv 3:5-6; Jn 3:16; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 3-6; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Gal 3-4; Heb 5-10)



But why did Peter share his fall, and why did Matthew record it?  They did it to teach us “the deceitfulness of human nature,” the necessity of humility before God and charity toward other fallen Christians, the danger of presumption, pride, and trusting in one’s own strength, the expected trials of those who would seek to faithfully follow the Son of Man, the reality of past, present, and future forgiveness in the blood of the covenant, the promise of complete restoration for the truly repentant, the hope of “future victory over our weaknesses,” and “the glory of the forgiving love and cleansing power of Jesus Christ.”  Put differently, to teach us to boast in nothing but the cross of Christ.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 791)


The whole point of Matthew’s candid retelling of the chief apostle’s apostasy is to show all disciples everywhere and at all times the absolute need for the atoning death of Jesus.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 786)


Like many Christians who know the Bible well, are experienced in the things of God, and are active in the church, Peter felt himself to be spiritually complete.  As Peter would soon discover, however, that is when a believer is most vulnerable of all.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 217)


To call God “father” was a striking, almost blasphemous thing in Jesus’ day, when the Jews of the time would not even pronounce God’s name (Yahweh or Jehovah), avoiding it out of misplaced reverence.  They referred to God as Adonai (Lord) instead.  By contrast, Jesus always referred to God as his Father.  In fact, he used the endearing term abba, which some would translate “daddy.”  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 568)


Jesus faced death with supreme courage because He knew He had supreme power over death.  But the disciples were still afraid of death, and even of imprisonment or humiliation.  Jesus knew He would be raised from the dead by the power of His Father, just as He had predicted to the Twelve many times before (see Mt 16:21; 17:9, 23; 20:18-19; cf. Rom 6:4).  Even more certain than the faith by which Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead (Heb 11:17-19) was the divine omniscience of Jesus.  By that knowledge our Lord knew His heavenly Father would raise His only begotten Son from the dead on the third day.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 160-1)


Jesus stood majestically silent.  It was the silence of innocence, the silence of dignity, the silence of integrity, the silence of infinite trust in His heavenly Father.  It was a silence in which the lying words against Him reverberated in the ears of the guilty judges and of the false witnesses they had bribed.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 207)


All of His disciples deserted Him, and one betrayed Him, yet the divine work of redemption continued to be fulfilled on schedule, precisely according to God’s sovereign and prophesied plan.  As the disciples’ faithfulness decreased, Jesus’ demonstration of power and glory increased.  As the plans of His enemies seemed to prosper, the plan of God prospered still more in spite of them.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 194)


The face which these underlings–with the wholehearted permission and co-operation of their utterly selfish, sadistic, and envious superiors–now covered with their spittle was the one that had smiled upon large throngs, of people whom he instructed to love even their enemies.  It was the face which used to break into a smile at the approach of a child.  It had been in the habit of beaming graciously upon publicans who became penitents.  It could glow with righteous indignations when the Father’s house was being desecrated, or when the widow’s rights were violated, her needs ignored.  In days gone by, it had become overspread with gladness when something good could be said about a friend.  Above all, it was the face that mirrored the heart of the heavenly Father in all his holiness, displeasure with sin, and–last but not least–love and tenderness.  It was into this face that these men were spitting!  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 934)


If the only thing that lay before Jesus on the morrow was the experience of death, He would have faced it with a greater serenity than Socrates displayed before he drank the hemlock.  Multitudes of courageous men and women through history have faced death calmly.  But it was not the prospect of death that provoked this sorrow of Jesus’ soul.  It was the experience He would have to pass through before death came, when He would be forsaken by His Father.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 760)


This is the only time in all of Scripture when we read of Jesus falling on His face, prostrating Himself in the lowest form of humility before His Father.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 760)


Jesus was crying:  “O Father, is there any other way?  I’ll go to the cross.  I’ll lay down My life.  I’ll pour out My blood.  I can handle the cross.  I can take the wrath of the Romans.  I can take the wrath of the leaders of the Sanhedrin.  But do I have to be utterly exposed to Your unmitigated wrath against the sin of Your people?”  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 761)


The “all” who promised total allegiance were now the all who fled.  Judas’ kiss marked a turning point for the disciples.  With Jesus’ arrest, each one’s life would be radically different.  For the first time, Judas openly betrayed Jesus before the other disciples.  For the first time, Jesus’ loyal disciples deserted him and fled.  Their world was crumbling.  The teacher who had held forth in the temple was now under arrest.  The treasurer had become a traitor.  The garden sanctuary that had always been “safe” was turned into the place of confrontation.  What confusion!  The disciples’ primary loyalty to Jesus should have kept them from running.  But fear took its toll.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 530)


At this phase of the trial Jesus was condemned to death even though he had done nothing wrong and had already been pronounced innocent by Pilate.  John says that Pilate did this three times, declaring, “I find no basis for a charge against him” (Jn 18:38; 19:4, 6).  This was the significant part of the Roman trial, and for this reason, it also is reported by each of the Gospel writers (Mt 27:15-26; Mk 15:6-15; Lk 23:13-25; Jn 18:29-19:16).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 583)


As much as Christians might like to think of themselves as being spiritually strong, those who are mature know from experience as well as from Scripture that in themselves they are weak.  They would like to think they could never deny the Lord, contradict His Word, or be ashamed to be called by His name.  But they know that every believer succumbs to those things from time to time.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 155)


It is easy for us to look at other Christians, find some point at which we can judge ourselves superior, and pat ourselves on the back.  But we are not stronger, and there is no sin that any other believer has committed that we are not capable of committing under the same circumstances.  God does not look at us and find any one of us superior to another.  He looks at us all, sees “how we are formed,” and “remembers that we are dust” (Ps 103:14).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 593)


Under Jewish law, blasphemy involved using the name of God in a blasphemous way.  Jesus had not done that.  He had spoken nothing but the truth.  The Jewish religious leaders simply chose not to believe what He said.  So, even this charge was false; the high priest himself committed perjury.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 775)


Just as it is today, so it was then–spitting in someone’s face was the ultimate gesture of insult and contempt.  By spitting in Jesus’ face, the Jewish religious leaders completely repudiated His authority.  This was an insult to His person and to His office as the Christ and the Son of God.  They spat in the face of the God-man.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 775)


We are to read the two trials as happening simultaneously–Peter’s “trial of discipleship” and Jesus’ “trial of messiahship,” as Bruner labels the parallels–and thus to see that as Jesus remains innocent of all charges brought against him, Peter grows in his guilt.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 788)


Worship Point:  Worship the One Who continues to love us in spite of suffering from our rejection, ignorance, stupidity, pride, faithlessness, sin, and blasphemy.  


He knew that his disciples were going to flee for their lives and abandon him in the moment of his deepest need; but he does not rebuke them, he does not condemn them, he does not heap reproaches on them or call them useless creatures and broken reeds.  Far from that, he tells them that when that terrible time is past, he will meet them again.  It is the greatness of Jesus that he knew our human weakness; he knows how certain we are to make mistakes and to fail in loyalty; but that knowledge does not turn his love to bitterness or contempt.  Jesus has nothing but sympathy for those who in their weakness are driven to sin.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 401)


He chose to die because he knew that his death was the purpose of God.  He took this way because it was the very thing that had been foretold by the prophets.  He took it because love is the only way.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 410)


Gospel Application:  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  There is no other way to the Father except through Jesus.


If you just look at Jesus’ short speeches here and ask the question, who’s in charge? the answer is obvious.  Jesus is in charge.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 811)


Spiritual Challenge:  Look honestly and truthfully at your life and the life of Jesus.  Who has a better relationship with the God of the Universe?  Who has a better chance of getting what they ask for from the God of the Universe?   Through Whom can you be truly saved?


Every time we sin against God, we are, in effect, spitting in His face.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 776)


Peter would learn that God’s forgiveness surpasses the guilt we experience when we fail.  If guilt dampens your life, take a hint from Peter.  He could have moped about that failure his whole life (“I’m such a failure!”).  Instead, believing that Jesus truly forgave him, he went on to serve God boldly and well.  Give up your mistakes and start fresh with God.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 520)


Notice that Matthew, unlike John in his Gospel, doesn’t record Peter’s restoration.  The reason, I think is because from here to the cross, “I don’t think you can squeeze out one ounce of human virtue.”  What’s the reason for that?  The reason is that there is this cosmic contrast at play: compare what all the fallen humans are doing–be it the high priest or the chief apostle–to what God is doing in his holy Son.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 790)


The only reason we do not pray is because we are far from God and do not believe that he actually likes to hear our prayers and answer them.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 594)


They had decided against Jesus, and in so doing, they sealed their own fate as well as his.  Like the members of the Sanhedrin, you must decide whether Jesus’ words are blasphemy or truth.  Your decision has eternal implications.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 537)


Just as there are common marks of false disciples there are common characteristics of defective disciples, as the eleven proved to be on this occasion.  First of all, they were unprepared.  All of them, including the three Jesus chose to accompany Him into the garden, had fallen asleep at this time of Jesus’ great struggle.  Because they confused good intentions with spiritual strength, they were powerless when testing came.  They were overconfident and felt no need of prayer.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 193)


A second mark of a defective disciple is impulsiveness.  The eleven disciples, and Peter in particular, reacted on the basis of emotion rather than revelation.  They did not look at the situation from the perfect perspective of God’s truth but from the imperfect and distorted perspective of their own understanding.  Therefore, instead of acting on the basis of God’s Word and in the promised power of His Spirit, they reacted on the basis of their emotions and in the weakness of their own resources.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 193)


A third mark of a defective disciple is impatience.  Because the disciples refused to take Jesus’ truth and promises to heart, they became anxious and impatient when things did not go as they thought they should.  They could not wait for the Lord’s deliverance and so devised their own.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 193)


A fourth mark of a defective disciple is carnality.  The disciples, typified by Peter, depended wholly on their own fleshly power to protect them.  Because he refused to trust His Lord’s way and power, Peter had nothing to rely on but his sword, which was pathetically inadequate even from a human perspective.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 194)


So What?:  As long as you think you can (of your own ability, merit and relationship) make it with God; you are lost, wrong and blaspheming God.   You have forgotten or failed to realize just how truly holy, righteous, pure and just God is.  Repent and come to Jesus.


Besides the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection and the empowering of the Holy Spirit within them, perhaps the most important thing the disciples needed was an honest awareness of their own weakness.  They desperately needed the poverty of spirit (see Mt 5:3) without which no person can come to Christ and without which no believer can be effectively used by Christ.  The first step to spiritual strength is the sincere, humble acknowledgment of one’s own spiritual weakness (cf. 2 Cor 12:9-10).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 156-7)


Perhaps Peter came that night to save the Savior.  Instead he now knows that he will need this Savior to save him, for the curtain closes with humiliated and humbled Peter weeping “bitterly” (v. 75b).  Are these tears of repentance?  Yes, they are.  It is the beginning of his repentance, a repentance that would lead to full restoration and a renewed call to mission.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 790)


If you don’t see the absolute holiness of God, the magnitude of your debt, the categorical necessity of God’s just punishment of your sin, and therefore the utter hopelessness of your condition, then the knowledge of your pardon and deliverance will not be amazing and electrifying!   —Tim Keller


Peter’s tears were of true sorrow and repentance.  Later, Peter would reaffirm his love for Jesus, and Jesus would forgive him (see Mk 16:7; Jn 21:15-19).  From this humiliating experience, Peter learned much that would help him later when he became leader of the young church.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 539)



After Pentecost the eleven men who had deserted their Lord in fear and shame were hardly recognizable.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 163)


The true Peter is not seen in his denial but in his repentance, the first stage of which was deep remorse.  Finally realizing the grievousness of his sin, he turned from it in revulsion.  Like Judas, he fled into the night; but unlike Judas, he returned to the Lord in faith.  His faith had slipped and weakened, but it was genuine faith, and Jesus Himself had prayed that it would not fail (Lk 22:32).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 218)


Quotes to Note:

To spit in someone’s face was the worst insult possible (see Nm 12:14), but these religious men weren’t content to stop at that.  While Jesus was blindfolded, they took turns hitting him and then asking him to tell who it was that hit him.  Some scholars think that this was a traditional test applied to anyone who claimed to be the Messiah.  Based on Isa 11:2-4, the Messiah was supposed to be able to sense what would happen without sight.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 537)


Let us draw from this passage one practical conclusion.  Let it never surprise us if we have to endure mockery, ridicule and false reports because we belong to Christ.  “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Mt 10:24).  If lies and insults were heaped upon the Savior, we need not wonder if the same weapons are constantly used against his people.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 268)


The Lord’s promises not to allow His children “to be tempted beyond what [they] are able” (1 Cor 10:13) and “to rescue the godly from temptation” (2 Pt 2:9) do not apply to willful disobedience.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 213)






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