Sunday, January 19, 2020

"This Very Night" [Matt's Messages]

“This Very Night”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 19, 2020 :: Matthew 26:31-46

Time has slowed down.

We have reached not just that crucial last week that we often call “Holy Week” or “Passion Week,” but we’ve also reached that last crucial day. That last 24 hours before the crucifixion of our Lord.

Last week, we were up in the upper room with Jesus as He ate the Passover with His disciples.

And we saw that it was a Passover like there had never been a Passover before.

Because Jesus made this Passover all about Himself.

He took bread and broke it and passed it around and said it was His body.

He took the cup and offered it to His disciples and said it was His blood.

And He said that He wouldn’t drink from it again until He drank from it anew with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom.

And before all of that, He shocked them all by saying that one of them, one of the Twelve, was going to betray Him.

And He even knew which one.

Time has slowed down, and so will we.

We are only going to study verses 31 through 46 this morning.

Just the last part that happens before the betrayal and arrest.

Just the last few hours that Jesus is alone with His disciples.

And specifically those last few hours when Jesus prays.

And prays and prays.

Because Jesus knows what’s about to happen.

Jesus knows what’s coming.

We’ve seen that again and again.

Jesus knows what is right around the corner.

So what would you do if you knew that the authorities were coming to arrest you?

Jesus prays.

I’m going to call this message “This Very Night” because Jesus emphasizes the immediacy of these events in verse 31 and verse 34 with those words.

“This Very Night”

It’s right here, right now.

This is what Jesus’ life has been leading up to for all of these years.

From the angelic visits to His parents.
From the angels and the shepherds at Bethlehem.
From the baptism of His cousin John.
From the Sermon on the Mount to the Olivet Discourse.
From everything we’ve read so far in the Gospel of Matthew.

It’s all coming to a head right here, right now.

This very night.

Now, I often have several points of application that I try to dole out to you as a message unfolds.

Today, I have just two points of application, and I’m going to tell you up front what they both are, because they are both woven throughout this short passage.

I want you to see and feel them at every step of this very night.

Number One. We need to:


As we see the weakness of the disciples, especially Peter, I am sure that we are supposed to see ourselves in them.

They don’t do so well. In fact, they fail.

And we need to see how they did that and own it as a true picture of ourselves.

And what we need saving from.

And what we need the Lord to work on in us.

But the other thing, and it’s more important really is that we need to:


Both of those things are on display in this passage.

Our weakness and His strength.

It’s amazing what Jesus goes through for us.

And how He does it.

And it should cause us to marvel and worship and give thanks that our Savior did this to save us and to glorify His Father.

This is how I’m hoping we will respond as follow Jesus through the events of this very night.

In verse 30, Matthew tells us that Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn and then left the house where they were eating the Passover and went back over the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, the place where He had been teaching them about His glorious return.

And somewhere along the way, Jesus drops another shocker of a prediction on them.

Not only will one of them betray Him, but all of them will desert Him. Verse 31.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘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.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’”

We are used to this story, but it’s really quite striking, isn’t it?

They just had this intimate time together with their heads so close. Eating the Passover meal like a family. Dipping their bread or lamb in the same sauce.

Singing a hymn, wandering together up the valley.

But Jesus says, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me...”

And He says that it’s written in the Bible that this will happen!

That’s quote from Zechariah 13:7.

“I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

God is going to strike the Shepherd. What a scary thought!

And when the shepherd is struck, the sheep will be scattered.

The disciples will fall away.

Again, I wrote in the margin of my copy, “He knows.”

He knows what’s going to happen to Him.

And what He emphasizes is that His followers are going to stop following Him.

They are going to fall way. They are going to leave Him.

By the way, this story just keeps getting worse and worse until chapter 28.

It’s all true. And it’s all good for us.

But it was awful for Jesus.

And we need to feel that.

And marvel and wonder at what He went through for us.

Now in verse 32, there is a note of hope. There is, in fact, a prediction of resurrection!

“But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

He knows that His going to get up again on Sunday morning!

But all of this is going right over all of their heads.

What they have heard is that Jesus thinks they are going to fail Him.

And that is unthinkable for them at this moment. And who do you think is going to vocalize it?

Three guesses and the first two don’t count. It’s Peter, right? V.33

“Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’”

Let me translate that for you, “Jesus, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m much better than that.”

Which is a pretty dangerous thing to say to Jesus.

Peter thinks that he’s better than Jesus does.

He has good intentions!

But we know where that road leads.

And so does Jesus. V.34

“‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, 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.”

I think that’s us, don’t you?

I think we’re supposed to see ourselves there in Jesus’ protestations and over-confidence.

He’s not the only one. “All the other disciples said the same.”

And how many times have we?

Promised the Lord something that we weren’t really going to do.

Declared our strength and pledged our undying faithfulness.

Only to disappoint and be disappointing.

I love how the gospel present the disciples as being not very impressive.

I mean, Matthew was one of these disciples. If I were writing the book, I wouldn’t just make Jesus a great compelling character. I’d put in some good things about myself, too!

Or at least I’d be tempted to.

But the gospels show us not just Who Jesus really is, but who we really are, as well.

We need to recognize our weakness.

Which can actually be the start of our strength.

Remember this interaction they had with Jesus. It will become important in the next few weeks. V.36

“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.’”

The other gospels tell us that this was a place Jesus went to frequently. I think that’s how Judas knew where to find Him.

The word “Gethsemane” basically means “Olive Press,” and there was a garden there, so this was the original Olive Garden.

But there were no addictive breadsticks.

Instead, there was a praying Savior.

And what a prayer time He had! V.37

“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, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”

Jesus has invited along His inner circle.

Peter, James, and John. The same three that saw Him on the mount of transfiguration.

Shining like the sun.

But now His face is dark.

He is sorrowful and troubled.

In fact, He is–This is astonishing, friends! He is overwhelmed.

Just think about that.

Just sit with that for a second.

The Lord Jesus Christ Whom we have followed now for 71 Sundays through the Gospel of Matthew.

When have we ever seen Jesus overwhelmed?

We’ve never seen Jesus overwhelmed.

But He is just about losing it this very night.

He doesn’t lose it! He never fails.

But He is in agony.

He is in anguish.

Jesus does not exaggerate about Himself, and He says in verse 38, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”

Jesus is so sad that He might almost die of it.


Because He knows.

He knows what’s coming.

He knows the horror of what is right around the corner for Him this very night.

And He wants His friends to sit up with Him and pray.

How very human of Him!

We need each other as humans.

If the Son of Man wanted His friends to pray with Him, how much more do we need it?!

Let’s be there for each other.

Let’s pray for each other.

On Sunday mornings, do you gather prayer requests from the people that sit near you?

You should do that.

Everybody here is the prayer team. You should ask the people around you how you can be praying for them. And maybe just do it right there in 10 seconds!

We need each other.

Jesus desired the company of Peter and the sons of Zebedee.

He wanted them to pray with Him.

But they failed miserably.

And He was left to pray alone. V.39

“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’”

And that is one of the most amazing prayers that has ever been offered to God.

First off, look at His posture.

See Him face down on the ground.

That is total submission.

Have you ever prayed like that?

Face down.

But this facedown Savior calls God His Father.

“My Father.” The Gospel of Mark says that He used the Aramaic word, “Abba.”

We might say, “Papa” or “Dad.”

And what does He ask?

“If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”

“If it is possible!” Maybe in His human nature, He wasn’t yet certain.

Just like He didn’t know when the Son of Man would come, maybe He didn’t know if there was possibly another way.

He sure wanted there to be!

He does not want this cup!

What is “this cup?”

A cup is an experience.

If you drink a cup, then you are choosing an experience.

And this cup, it’s not a physical cup, that’s a metaphor.

This cup is everything that’s going to happen to Him this very night and the next day.

This cup is the betrayal.
This cup is the arrest.
This cup is the farce of a trial.
This cup is the scourging.
This cup is the mocking.
This cup is the crucifying.

This cup is the Cross.

This cup is the wrath of God.

This cup was meant for us.

This is our cup.

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.”

But here it is the pure and spotless Savior who drinks the cup reserved for the wicked.

That song we sing, “Jesus, Thank You.”

“You drank the bitter cup reserved for me.”

This is our cup.

And Jesus, looking at it, shudders.

And He asks His Father to take it from Him, “may this cup be taken from me.”

He does not want it.

But He chooses it.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Marvel at Jesus’ strength.

His strength is a strength that starts with submission.

We often think that strength comes from not submitting.

But Jesus’ strength comes at the point of submission.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

And He bends His will to the Father’s.

There is glorious strength in being able to bend your will to the Father’s will!

That’s what Jesus’ does.

He bends His human will to His Father’s divine will.

And chooses the cup of God’s wrath for us.

That’s amazing!

Which only highlights the disciples’ weakness. V.40

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. [Who had just said that he would die with Jesus if necessary. But he can’t pray with Jesus when necessary.] ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’”

That’s us, right?

I know that I’ve fallen asleep during prayer meeting before!

These are just normal guys in a very unusual time and place.

They have good intentions, but their bodies don’t want to comply.

We need to recognize our weakness here and pray for help.

We are finite and limited and weak creatures who need all of the help we can get.

We need to admit that and humble ourselves.

And pray and keep watch so that we don’t fall into temptation.

But you know what?

Jesus was fully human, too. I’m sure that He was tired.

All of this anguish will wear you out. I’m sure that He was exhausted.

And He hasn’t even really started.

But He keeps on. V.42

“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’”

I think He’s getting His answer. He changes from “if it’s possible” to “I understand it may not be possible.”

And either way He’s committed.

“May your will be done.”

Just like He taught us to pray.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We need to learn to pray like that, too.

We bring God our requests, our desires.

It’s okay to bring anything to Him that you want.

Bring it!

Jesus wants this very badly, and it’s no sin to ask for it!

But He always says, “May your will be done.”

“May your will be done.”

And it’s not just words. It needs to be our heart’s pray.

“May your will be done.”
“May your will be done.”
“May your will be done.”

Do you pray like that?

With an open hand?

“May your will be done.”

The point of this passage is not so much that we need to pray like that, but that our Lord prayed like that!

He was so strong!

He didn’t want this at all, but He stayed strong.

The devil threw everything at Him that He could.

I’m sure that He was tempting Jesus right here and right now.

This very night Satan had returned and brought the same temptation to skip the Cross that he had presented to Jesus back in chapter 3.

But Jesus never faltered and never failed.

He said again and again to the Father, “May your will be done.”

And it meant our salvation!

Just imagine what would have happened if He had failed.

That’s unthinkable!

But the disciples failed again and again. They are a picture of us and our need for Savior. And thankfully, we have one. V.43

“When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. [“May your will be done.”] Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? [Nap time is over!] Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’”

And that’s where we’ll leave things this week.

The last moment they had alone together.

They failed.

But Jesus was victorious.

From now on Jesus does not weep.

He is not overwhelmed.

I’m sure that He is sad. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

But He is no longer prostrate on the ground, face down.

Instead, He stands regally and faces all that comes before Him.

As the torch-lit mob climbs up to take Him away, Jesus all prayed-up, breathes out, “May your will be done this very night.”


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"