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Sunday, March 27, 2011

[Matt's Messages] "Arresting Jesus"

“Arresting Jesus”
Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
March 27, 2011
Luke 22:39-65

We are now just one month away from Resurrection Sunday.

And for the next four weeks, we’re going to continue to go deep into the experience of our Lord Jesus on that last night and morning of His death.

These next few messages will be increasingly more serious and solemn.  Not totally sad–because we know what all of this means for us.  But deadly serious and very solemn as we consider what Jesus went through for us.

I, actually, already know the next four titles of the next four messages that I’m going to preach, Lord-willing. [That doesn’t happen very often!]

Today, Arresting Jesus.
Next week, Judging Jesus.
Then, Crucifying Jesus.
And then Burying Jesus.

And then we get to celebrate the glorious Resurrection Sunday!

Today, it’s “Arresting Jesus.”

We’re going to see what happened when our Lord was arrested by the authorities.

Yes, our Lord has a rap sheet.
He has a record with the authorities.
Jesus knows what it’s like to be arrested.

And today, I’d like to look at it through the lens of His experience.

What did Jesus go through...for us?

We’re going to hang what we see on four hooks this morning.

Four things that Jesus painfully experienced at the time of His arrest.

Four things He went through for you and for me.

The first happened right before His arrest.

And we’re going to call it anguish.

#1.  ANGUISH.

The other gospels tell us that this place on the Mount of Olives was a garden called Gethsemane.  It seems that this was the place that Jesus was going each night after teaching in the temple each day of this fateful week.

And this is the night.

They’ve had the last supper in the upper room.

Jesus has predicted His betrayal, His disciples’ sifting, and His own suffering.

And they’ve left the upper room and gone up to the Mount of Olives, as usual, and there Jesus tells his disciples to pray.  V.39 again.

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’”

There will be a lot of temptation to come.  And Jesus urges His disciples to pray and then takes His own advice and gets down to praying Himself. V.41

“He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish [there’s our word], he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

How terrible was His anguish, His agony!

It was, primarily, a spiritual anguish.

The physical anguish, the physical agony, will come soon enough.

But this is Jesus’ anguish at just the idea of what’s going to happen to Him.

He is so much in anguish that He sweats as He prays.

How many of us have prayed so intensely that we have sweated?

It doesn’t count if you are praying at half-time of a ball game.

Jesus is sweating because He’s praying so intensely in anguish.

So much sweating that Luke says it was like drops of blood pouring out of His head.

And notice in verse 44 that the more He was anguished, the more He prayed.

We tend to give up prayer if we’re hurting after a praying a bit.  But Jesus knew that more prayer was what was needed when He hurt so badly.

What was He praying, in so much anguish, about?

The cup.

Jesus asks, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.”

What cup is that?

What cup would make the Lord Jesus so anguished in soul?

There is no other place in the four gospels where Jesus is so anguished.

Most of the time, He is confident, bold, and fearless.

But here, He falls to His knees and almost begs His Father to take away this cup if at all possible.

[And by the way, there is no mistaking how human Jesus really is at this moment.  Just because He’s God doesn’t mean that He isn’t fully human and can experience anguish like we’ve never imagined.]

What cup does this to Him?

What cup, in just anticipating it, anguishes Jesus like this?

It is the cup of God’s righteous wrath against sin.

This cup is the experience of the Cross.

If Jesus drank “this cup,” He would experience the wrath of God.

This language of a “cup” is drawn from about a dozen places in the Old Testament when God promised to bring righteously angry judgment upon the wicked for their sin.

Listen to Psalm 75, verses 7 and 8, “It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.”

This is the cup of the wrath of God brought in perfect justice, for those who deserve it, to drink!

But, paradoxically, it is not the wicked who is being asked to drink it here.

It is the Sinless One!

The Father has set This Cup of His Righteous Wrath in front of His Sinless Son and asked Him to drink it...for us. In our place.

To experience what Hell is for–the justice of God punishing the ungodly.

That’s what Jesus is staring at that causes His soul to be in anguish.

That’s what’s in this cup.

No wonder He prays.

We can learn a lot about how to pray from verse 42.  A lot.

Notice that Jesus prays to His Father.

God is, to Him, a loving father, and that changes how He prays.

God is not just the Lord of the Universe.  He is Daddy.

And Daddy’s want to be asked for things.

Do you to pray to God as your Father?

And He asks the desires of His heart.

We can learn a lot about prayer from that.  Prayer is offering up our hearts’ desires to God.

Sometimes we are afraid to ask God for big things for ourselves.  This is about the biggest prayer request there ever was!

Take away the cross!  Take away the cup!  Please!

If at all possible.  If you are willing.  Take it away.

Don’t be afraid to ask God for relief from your suffering.  Jesus did.

Don’t be afraid to ask God for big things for yourself.  It’s not selfish to pray for your self.  You can pray for selfish things for yourself.

But the way you know whether you are being selfish or not is how your prayer ends.

Jesus’ prayer ends with glad submission to His father’s will.

“Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

He submits His will to the will of His father.

And there was no other way.

No other way for us to be saved than for Jesus to drink this cup.

All of our prayers should have this submission as part of them.

Whether or not we say the words, “not my will but yours be done.”

Jesus knew the answer to this prayer.

But He still had to pray it.  It was offering up His heart to His Father.

This was as real as prayer gets.  “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly...”

Was He heard?

Did God answer this prayer?

Oh yes. The answer was, “No. I don’t will for this cup to be taken away from you.”

And, “Oh my, son, here is an angel to strengthen you.”  V.43

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”

Hebrews chapter 5, verse 7 says, “During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

Notice that, “He was heard because of his reverent submission.”

God said, “No,” but he heard His prayer.

Sometimes, it feels like God doesn’t hear our prayers.

But those times are often Him saying, “No. That would be good but it wouldn’t be best.  No.  Now, trust me.  Reverently submit to my painful will...But I hear you.  Oh, my child, I heart you. And I will strengthen you through this trial.”

We can learn a lot from Jesus’ example of prayer.  V.45

“When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. [They too felt the anguish but it led them to sleep, not pray. V.46] ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’”

I think that a key application here is to learn to pray like Him.

Praying to God as Father.
Asking for our heart’s desires.
Offering up our heart to God.
And reverently submitting to His will.
And praying more earnestly knowing that we are heard.

But an even greater application is to thank Jesus for saying yes to the cup.

Because the Father said there was no other way to save us.

There was no other way than to experience (#2.) great injustice.

#2. INJUSTICE.

Jesus did not deserve the cup of wrath.

And He did not deserve to be betrayed by His follower.  V.47

“While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them.”

We saw at the beginning of the month, how Judas and the chief priests and the teachers of the law had made a conspiracy to arrest Jesus when there was no crowd.

The moment of His arrest has come.

Judas, who knew where Jesus normally went at night, led the way.  He was one of the Twelve.  He as an apostle. He was in the inner ring of leadership in Jesus’ band of disciples.  And He betrays Jesus.  V.47 again.

“He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’”

With a kiss?!

Kisses aren’t meant for enemies.  They are meant for loved ones.

This is injustice.

What has Jesus ever done to Judas to deserve this?

With a kiss?

“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

The disciples know that this unjust and try to stop it.  V.49

“When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’  (Remember the swords they had back in verse 38?)  And one of them [didn’t wait for the answer!] struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. [But that’s not the way Jesus’ kingdom comes. V.51] But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man's ear and healed him.”

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?  Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.’”
       
He is talking about the injustice of it all.
The reason they come at night is because they know that they are in the wrong and they know it.

And Jesus shames them with it.  They are the lawbreakers!

“Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.”

And darkness is going to reign for the next several hours.

They are the darkest hours in all of human history.

Injustice.

We’re going to see that even more next week when we study Jesus’ trial before the religious and civil leaders.

But here is the surprise–the application is not just to be just and to seek justice where there is injustice.

But to thank God for this injustice.

To thank Jesus for undergoing this injustice.

Jesus accepts Judas’ kiss.
He lets the authorities arrest Him.

Not only does He heal the man’s ear who has come to drag Him off to a farce of a trial, but He also doesn’t run and (more to the point) He doesn’t just blast these guys into the oblivion they deserve.

Do you remember back in chapter 4 when a big mob in Capernaum got mad at Jesus and drove Him to a cliff to push Him off?

What happened then?

Luke 4:30 “He walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

Jesus could have done that right here.

But He didn’t.  And He didn’t for you and me.

Thank Him.

Praise God that Jesus accepted injustice to make the unjust just, to make the unrighteous righteous.

“Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

That was injustice, but God used it to bring justification!

The kiss of Judas was reversed to become the kiss of God for you and me.

#3.  REJECTION.
The focus shifts to Peter.  V.54

“Then seizing [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’ [Here is Peter’s chance!  He was the one who chopped off that ear.  He can be bold now. He can proclaim his allegiance to Jesus just he had earlier that night. “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” And this isn’t a soldier or a priest. It’s a servant girl.”] But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don't know him,’ he said. [One.]  A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’ ‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied. [Two.]  About an hour later [while terrible things are happening to Jesus inside] another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’ [You can tell by their filthy accent!]  Peter replied, ‘Man, I don't know what you're talking about!’ [Three.] Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. [And this is the most haunting thing.  Wherever Jesus was, He could, at this moment see Peter and Peter see Him.] The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’  And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

Jesus was not just betrayed by a disciple.

He was abandoned by all of them.

And rejected...denied...disowned by Peter.

Just like Jesus said he would.

Three times before the rooster.

Can you imagine the moment when they locked eyes across that courtyard?

It was a terrible moment for Jesus.  He was rejected and alone.

And it was a most terrible moment for Peter.  He went outside and wept bitterly.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”

And that’s what happened.

It’s important for us to realize that this could happen to any of us.

We like to beat up on Peter because he’s a good punching bag.

But would we have done any better?

Do we do any better?

How many times have we denied Jesus ourselves by simply being silent?

We need to take heed here and not be proud.

This could be us.

Thankfully, we know how this ends.  We know that Peter’s tears are repentant, unlike Judas’. And we know that Jesus forgives Peter and puts him back to work in ministry.

There is hope for those who have momentarily rejected Him.

But, even more importantly, I think this passage call us to OWN JESUS ourselves.

To not disown Jesus like Peter did but to own Him.  Publicly.

Before others.

To not be silent. And to no deny.  To speak up and identify ourselves with Jesus as His followers.  To own Him.

I’ve enjoyed teaching our baptism class the last several weeks.

I think we’ve got a big bunch of believers who are going to go public with their faith on Resurrection Sunday.  I’m hoping for as many as 10 on day!

That’s awesome.

Because baptism is one of the ways that God designed for us to not be ashamed of Jesus to but own Him before the watching world.

Own Him.

Talk about Jesus.
Identify with Jesus.

Tell your co-worker what you believe about Jesus.

Tell the kid at the desk next to yours, the locker next to you, at school.

Tell your neighbor.

Ask them to come to Resurrection Sunday and hear these testimonies of faith in Jesus.

Imagine if Peter had said it all the other way.

V.57, “I do know Him.”
V.58, “Yes, I am one of them.”
V.50, “I know what you’re talking about.  You’re talking about my Lord!”

And later, Peter does just that.

And so should we. Own Him.

And thank Jesus for being rejected.

The worst thing here was not what happened to Peter but what happened to our Lord.

#4. TORTURE.  V.63.

“The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ And they said many other insulting things to him.”

This is where the story become excruciating to tell.

Our master was mocked.
Beaten.

Have you ever seen anyone get beaten?

They made fun of Him.  They put a blindfold on Him and hit him and made Him play a cruel guessing game.  “Prophesy!  Who hit you?”

Ironically, Jesus had prophesied that they would hit Him!

That’s two prophecies in a row that Jesus got right.  Denied and Beaten.

He probably wished that His prophesies didn’t come true!

And they said the meanest things to Him.

I’m glad we don’t know all of what they said.

The Greek word here is blasphemo, these insults were, literally, blasphemies.

He was tortured.

Psychological torture.
Physical torture.

His spiritual anguish became physical agony.

And He didn’t deserve it one bit.

He drank the cup!

For you and me.

If you are not yet a faith follower of Jesus Christ, why not?

He did this for you, will you not turn from your sins and trust in Him and His payment for your sins on the bloody Cross?

He was tortured to save His people.

Turn from yours sins and receive Him as your Savior and Lord.

He endured a Hell on Earth so that you wouldn’t have to endure a Hell after your life.

Anguish, Injustice, Rejection, and Torture

For you and me.

For those of us who are faith followers of Jesus Christ, this passage should make us cringe with the injustice of it all but also make us so grateful that we want to sing songs of praise.

Where these men used their tongues to insult and blaspheme and mock, we should use our tongues to say, “Jesus, Thank You!” and “Hallelujah, What A Savior!”

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...
Thanking Jesus
Jesus and the Coming Kingdom
Jesus Says, "Keep Praying"
The Proud, the Humble, and Jesus
Jesus Does the Impossible
Why Did Jesus Come?
Investing for Jesus in 2011
King Jesus
Jesus and the Temple
The Authority of Jesus
Jesus and Caesar
Jesus and the Sadducees
Jesus' Turn
Jesus and the End of the World
The Plan for Jesus to Die 
Jesus' Last Lessons

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