Consciousness of the Scriptures
Text: Matthew 26 : 31 - 56
Right from the start, Jesus was most conscious of the Word of God in His life and ministry. In the wilderness when He was tempted and tested by Satan, His classic defence was rooted in the Scriptures. Always, He would preface His reply to Satan with these words, “It is written” (Cf. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).
Consistently, Jesus made reference to the Scriptures in all His teachings! He upheld the authenticity, the authority and the power of the Scriptures when He taught as He did. The Scriptures were meant to be read, understood, obeyed and fulfilled! God did not cause His servants to write the Scriptures in vain!
From the doctrine of the Incarnation to Eschatology, God had revealed to man what he needed to know. Jesus’ task was to expound the Scriptures so that they became intelligible to all who would search the Scriptures diligently. Jesus knew the Scriptures so intimately that He even found a text that described His disciples fleeing from Him, in His hour of suffering.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble
because of Me this night, for it is written:
“I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
But after I have been raised I will go before you to Galilee.’ ”
MATTHEW 26:31-32 (ZECHARIAH 13:7)
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES REVEALED
Jesus believed in the Scriptures implicitly. Let us take time to ponder what He said in this text.
1. ‘I will strike the Shepherd’
In a sense, the people who would strike a blow against Jesus would be His nemeses – the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees and the elders of the nation. But in another sense, we may speak of the Lord Himself as striking the Shepherd. The suffering of Jesus would be allowed by God. Indeed it was ordained by God that He should suffer many wicked things in the hands of His enemies.
2. “And the sheep of the flock will be scattered”
Jesus applied this text to His disciples. They were His sheep. They would be scattered, fearful and confused as the Shepherd was struck down. All His disciples would be made to stumble before the night was over.
WHAT JESUS PROMISED
Once again, Jesus spoke with a tremendous sense of authority and power. Just as the Scriptures will be fulfilled, so He expected His words to be fulfilled. He will be raised from the dead. He would see them all in Galilee after His resurrection.
THE EMOTIONAL REACTION OF LOYAL PETER
The words of Jesus were received with both dismay and indignation! What did Jesus think they were? How could He have said what He did about them? Would they really stumble and flee from Him in His greatest hour of need? But surely, He cannot be right! How could this be? They were His special disciples. They had been through so much together. They would not desert Him!
“Peter answered and said to Him,
‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You,
I will never be made to stumble.'”
Peter’s heart was in the right place. His outburst showed up his personality as well. He refused to accept what Jesus had just spoken as true. He felt that he knew himself far better than anyone did – including Jesus! He would never stumble! His friends may stumble, but he would be the exception. He would never ever desert Jesus, his Saviour, Teacher and Friend.
A FURTHER WORD OF WARNING
Jesus understood how Peter must have felt. He knew his heart well enough. He was indeed like a rock. However, He knew the nature of the Scriptures! What God had spoken would be fulfilled! Peter may speak all that he wanted from his heart, but the Scriptures would still be fulfilled. Jesus now added a new word of warning to Peter.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night,
before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’
But Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You,
I will not deny You!’ And so said all the disciples.”
1. The Predictive words of Jesus
Had not Peter understood what Jesus meant when He cited the Scriptures as the authority? Would Peter understand His words better, if He were to speak to Him more directly? Peter will deny Him three times! He will repeatedly deny his Teacher over and over again!
Peter of course could not fathom the context in which these words would take place. Thus he vehemently denied what Jesus said.
2. The Promise to Remain loyal and faithful to Jesus
This time round, Peter was joined by his fellow-disciples! From the depths of their hearts, the disciples solemnly pledged that they would never deny Jesus! How could they deny Him who had been their Mentor these last three years! Their bonds of love and friendship were surely made of sterner stuff! Surely, nothing could break their ranks! How could Jesus say that they would flee from Him? They would prove Him wrong yet. They would remain steadfast and loyal to the very end! They would never deny Jesus!