God’s Saving Word: Hope
Matthew 26:36-75: Jesus grieves and prays in Gethsemane in preparation for his betrayal and arrest. His disciples fail to keep watch and fall asleep. Jesus is arrested and brought before the chief priests and the Council where he is accused of blasphemy. The chapter concludes with Peter denying that he knows Jesus.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
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.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him, 38 and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
40 Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, “How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 He returned once more and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.
44 Again Jesus left them, went away, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners. 46 Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”
The Arrest of Jesus
47 Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests and the elders. 48 The traitor had given the crowd a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him!”
49 Judas went straight to Jesus and said, “Peace be with you, Teacher,” and kissed him.
50 Jesus answered, “Be quick about it, friend!”[a]
Then they came up, arrested Jesus, and held him tight. 51 One of those who were with Jesus drew his sword and struck at the High Priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him. “All who take the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you know that I could call on my Father for help, and at once he would send me more than twelve armies of angels? 54 But in that case, how could the Scriptures come true which say that this is what must happen?”
55 Then Jesus spoke to the crowd, “Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me, as though I were an outlaw? Every day I sat down and taught in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. 56 But all this has happened in order to make come true what the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.”
Then all the disciples left him and ran away.
Jesus before the Council
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the teachers of the Law and the elders had gathered together. 58 Peter followed from a distance, as far as the courtyard of the High Priest’s house. He went into the courtyard and sat down with the guards to see how it would all come out. 59 The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some false evidence against Jesus to put him to death; 60 but they could not find any, even though many people came forward and told lies about him. Finally two men stepped up 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to tear down God’s Temple and three days later build it back up.’”
62 The High Priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Have you no answer to give to this accusation against you?” 63 But Jesus kept quiet. Again the High Priest spoke to him, “In the name of the living God I now put you under oath: tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 Jesus answered him, “So you say. But I tell all of you: from this time on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right side of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of heaven!”
65 At this the High Priest tore his clothes and said, “Blasphemy! We don’t need any more witnesses! You have just heard his blasphemy! 66 What do you think?”
They answered, “He is guilty and must die.”
67 Then they spat in his face and beat him; and those who slapped him 68 said, “Prophesy for us, Messiah! Guess who hit you!”
Peter Denies Jesus
69 Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard when one of the High Priest’s servant women came to him and said, “You, too, were with Jesus of Galilee.”
70 But he denied it in front of them all. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he answered, 71 and went on out to the entrance of the courtyard. Another servant woman saw him and said to the men there, “He was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 Again Peter denied it and answered, “I swear that I don’t know that man!”
73 After a little while the men standing there came to Peter. “Of course you are one of them,” they said. “After all, the way you speak gives you away!”
74 Then Peter said, “I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know that man!”
Just then a rooster crowed, 75 and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: “Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you do not know me.” He went out and wept bitterly.
Today’s Key Verse: Matthew 26:64b
[Jesus said:] “From this time on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right side of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of heaven!”
In today’s reading, Judas betrays Jesus and Peter denies Jesus. What reason did they have for doing so? Are there ways in which people betray or deny Jesus today? If so, what examples can you cite?
Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that at times I may have betrayed you and turned away from your teachings. Forgive me and make me ever aware of your love and sacrifice for my sake, that I may follow your ways. Amen.
Matthew 27:1-26: Jesus is taken to Pilate, the Roman governor.