AGCC Sun. a.m. 3/10/2002
#4      (The "Countdown To Calvary" Series)

(Wednesday p.m. to Thursday p.m.)

TEXT:  Matt. 26:17-56


One of the things we often miss in viewing Jesus' life is how planned out His entire life was! Many people think Jesus wandered around the Middle East just waiting for people to come to Him or for something to happen, or He and the disciples kind of wandered in and out of towns and villages preaching hoping something significant will take place. Nearly everything Jesus did was planned and prepared ahead of time, nothing was done haphazardly! What about our lives as Christians? Do we "PLAN" for things to happen? Do we wait around hoping someone will come to us so we can tell them about Christ's love or do we intentionally plan to lead people to Christ? Do we "PLAN" for our maturity or just hope that the preacher and Sunday school teachers are good enough at the Church we attend to make us grow? Do we "PLAN" to give tithes and offerings or do we just "PLOP" something into the plate each week when it goes by with something that just happens to be left over that week? One thing is clear, a planned life usually accomplishes a whole lot more than a drifting life! A planned life usually has more purpose and power to it than an aimless one. It is NOT unspiritual to "PLAN" and prepare yourself … in fact, it may be quite unspiritual NOT to! Jesus said in Luke 14:28-30 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'" Many Christians are not productive or mature because they don't plan their spiritual lives as much as they do their secular ones! While they plan for their education, their work, their homes, their families, etc. they often give little thought to their spiritual life and how it progresses or unfolds. PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us that we must make preparations for spiritual development, it is not automatic. Our productiveness and maturity are vitally connected to proper preparation in spiritual things.


A. Planning     26:17-25 1. Jesus is within days of His crucifixion and He is still working out plans! a. It is clear in this section that He had already planned for the last supper and this last week. b. His statement to the disciples to "go into the city to a certain man and tell him…" indicates that Jesus had already done some earlier preparations for this night. c. They were not to just wander the streets and hopefully bump into someone! 2. Jesus had planned out everything, as indeed He had done for everything else He had done in His ministry. a. He knew when it was His time to die and eluded those who sought to have Him killed earlier. b. He had kept to a deliberate path leading up to the cross. 3. This last supper was meant to be permanent ordinance for all believers, Jesus' death and shed blood would end the enmity between God and man. ILLUS:Bedouin tribesmen hold a ceremonial feast called a sulha to mark the end of a blood feud. We hold a feast to mark the end of our struggle against God and to celebrate his victory and our surrender. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). a. The disciples would not understand the significance of this meal at this time, but Jesus did it knowing that it would be a lasting ordinance for them and the church of all time. b. It was much more than an ordinary meal that Jesus planned! c. Jesus knew He would be betrayed, it did not come as a surprise, nor did His crucifixion. B. Participation     26:26-30 1. Jesus asks His disciples to "PARTICIPATE" in His plans! 2. There is nothing impressive about an aimless Christian! 3. When Christ asks us to participate in His life He assumes that we understand that this means direction, planning, and purpose! a. How many of us really plan our spiritual life? b. Is being a Christian just a "flavor" of your daily life, or the very direction of your daily life? c. Christ's life wasn't in them to make them FEEL GOOD, but to make them DO GOOD! 4. Participation in Christ's life means redirecting our life, not just flavoring our everyday life with a softer tone. 5. Too often we fail to understand the significance of entering or participating in Christ's life! ILLUS:My cousin's daughter Kathy usually stays in children's church on Sunday mornings, but one Sunday she went with her parents to the regular adult service. When Communion was served, she turned to her mother and whispered loudly, "The snack in children's church is much better. And we get a lot more juice." -- Elizabeth Charles Gomes, Wyncote, Penn., Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart." 6. They thought it was just another Passover meal, but Jesus was inaugurating them into His sacrifice, commitment, and death. a. This is the meaning of the communion service. b. We are not just eating a little cracker and drinking a little juice to make us feel better … but to show our commitment to Christ and willingness to enter into His call to minister to others. c. The real power of communion is not just what happens in the service but what happens after we leave the service! 7. They sung a hymn and left never understanding what it was all about at the time … how many times do we leave after singing a hymn without knowing what it was all about? (see 26:30) II. PREPARATION AND FAILURE     26:31-35 A. Panic     26:31 1. Jesus now tells His disciples that they will all fall away, they will panic when the pressure comes and in their panic they will run, all of them! a. This is what panic does to us … fear causes us to run away from God! b. Panic is our reaction to fear, and it frequently leads away from God! 2. When we panic we often do stupid things! ILLUS:A mother of 8 children came home one afternoon from the grocery store and walked into her home and found it quieter than normal. She headed to the living room where 5 of her little darlings were sitting in a circle very quiet doing something in the middle of them all that she couldnt quite see. she put down the sacks of groceries and decided she better see what it was they had in the middle of that circle that had so occupied their attention. What she saw was 5 of the cutiest little skunks you can imagine, they must have come into the house and the children thought they were cute like pets. She was instantly terrified and began yelling loudly "run children, run fast!!" Each child grabbed a skunk and ran -- in 5 different directions! When she saw this she was besides herself and so she screamed even louder, more frantically, and with even more gusto! It so scared the children that each one squeezed the cute little skunk they were holding, and as you can imagine, skunks don't like to be squeezed and you know what happened! Panic created a worse situation, the results stunk! -- Copied, unkonwn source 3. Jesus knew they would scatter and deny Him, not just Peter would run away, they all would! a. Jesus' understanding of failure here was rooted in the Scriptures. b. He knew that striking the shepherd would cause the sheep to scatter. B. Promise     26:32 1. Though Jesus knows they will scatter He is also confident that nearly all of them will return, evident in His promise here to meet them AFTER He has risen! a. He says that after He rises again He will meet them in Galilee. b. Jesus even has plans to go beyond failure and death!! 2. It is important that we understand the power of this statement by Jesus, "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." a. Jesus prepared not only for His death but for His resurrection. b. He not only had plans for Himself, but for their restoration. c. The only one that would be missing would be Judas. 3. Jesus has promised us too that He will come back for us, there is no reason to doubt that future reality! 4. Jesus plans their restoration even in the midst of failure. C. Pride     26:33-35 1. In a classic case of human pride instead of reliance on God Peter is the first to brag that he would never fall away, even if everyone else did. a. Peter's pride is fleshly, confident in his own ability and stated without even praying. b. This will prove his downfall. 2. Indeed, Jesus informs Peter that before the night ends he will have denied Christ 3 times! a. Tragically, when we think we can cover our own weakness and sins by our own self righteous garments they will prove inadequate! ILLUS:In the day of horse and buggies, a father went to the school house to pick up his three children ages 9, 11, and 17. As soon as he had them in the buggy--just before he stepped in--probably out of fear of the storm, the horses bolted and took off in the blizzard. Hours and miles later, when he found his children, the 17-year-old girl stood over the dead and frozen bodies of her brother and sister ages 9 and 11. Sobbing uncontrollably, she collapsed into his arms. When she had regained her composure, she explained to her dad that she tried to take her big, heavy coat and wrap it around them all. But she said, "The coat wasn't big enough." The blood that Christ shed on the cross was big enough to cover all of your sins and mine--all your lusting, all your lying, all your cheating, all your hatred, all your own faults. -- R. Larry Moyer, "Right Smack in the Middle of Sin," Preaching Today, Tape No. 148. b. Even after Jesus tells Peter about the 3 denials before the cock crows Peter continues his prideful denial rather than ask for help. c. Peter fails here to accept Jesus Word. 3. Peter's arrogance is repeated by the others as they all declare they would never deny Jesus. III. PREPARATION AND FAINTHEARTED     26:36-46 A. Prayer     26:36-39 1. Jesus has an answer to their failing pride, prayer! a. He takes them to a place of prayer, perhaps this will strengthen them, indeed it strengthened Jesus. b. Why anyone would think they don't have to pray for strength when the sinless Christ needed it for strength is an amazing reality. 2. Prayer has a profound affect on us, it is us that suffer most when we don't pray, God doesn't change. ILLUS:I have found if I don't have my quiet time each morning, I tend to lose my temper over insignificant things. Recently, my son, Andrew, reminded me of the need for daily prayer. He had accidentally spilled his drink and I went into a tirade. Andrew ended my harsh words when he quietly asked, "Mom, did you forget to ask Jesus to help you be nice today?" -- Cathy Fussell, Apopka, FL, Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart." 3. Jesus struggles in prayer, but this time in prayer is what prepares Him for the final moments, it gives Him the strength to do His father's will and not what His human nature would have preferred. a. This was precisely the problem with the disciples, instead of praying they sleep … and miss the opportunity to be strengthened for what was coming. b. Their own pride will not be enough to strengthen them in the midst of trial, they will indeed run away without prayer as a foundation. B. Persistence     26:40-46 1. Jesus persists in trying to get them to pray with Him for one hour, he comes back to them 3 times in His prayer moments but alas they are asleep each time. a. Jesus affirms that prayer could have helped them to be strong enough to resist running away, notice His words here: "Watch and pray SO THAT you will NOT fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." 26:41 b. We must understand that the primary power of prayer is how it changes us, not God! 2. Jesus allows them to sleep, but how it must have grieved His soul that they could not pray with Him and for Him during this preparation time. a. Prayer is an important part of being prepared! b. The time for prayer came to an end, even though they may have wanted to pray … we can wait too late. IV. PREPARATION AND FREEDOM     26:47-56 A. Personal     26:47-50 1. It is rather powerful to see Judas kiss Jesus to betray Him and Jesus addressing Judas as "friend." a. Christ's love is real, even in the midst of betrayal. b. Jesus was neither surprised, nor resistant to this betrayal. 2. In reality Jesus is not taken by force, He allows His own arrest. a. He is fully prepared for the terrible moments to come. b. He knows the victory that is coming. 3. Jesus shines in the midst of darkness. ILLUS:When a jeweler displays a fine diamond, he often puts it on black velvet. There, it catches fire from the lights of the room, its beauty multiplied, and its value becomes more apparent. The Lord's Supper is like that diamond. Sometimes it needs to be pried from traditional settings and thrown against the black velvet of the blackest night in history: the night it was instituted--the night before Christ was crucified. -- Jeanne Doering, The Passover Potluck. Leadership, Vol. 2, no. 1. 4. Though His disciples are fainthearted, and He is betrayed by a "friend" His purpose is not dimmed, His light will only be greater against the dark background. B. Price-tag     26:51-56 1. Peter (John 18:10 identifies this disciple as Peter) again demonstrates his lack of understanding and control as he reaches for a sword and cuts off the right ear of the servant of the high priest. (Luke 22:50 & John 18:10 states it was the right ear.) a. Jesus rebukes Peter's response, He could have called 12 legions of angels if He needed to escape. (72,000 - a Roman legion had 6,000 soldiers in it) b. Jesus will follow the plan of the father, to die for our sins. c. Though Peter doesn't understand, Jesus stays on course, the scriptures must be fulfilled. 2. Jesus was not "taken" by force, He gave Himself up! John 10:18 "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." a. Jesus will pay the price, Peter must not prevent it. b. One can only wonder if Jesus rebuking Peter hurt his feelings since he thought he was saving Jesus … perhaps his denial in several hours was in part helped along by hurt feelings. 3. Christ's price would more than pay the need to redeem sinful man, He will not be dissuaded. a. No one has done so much to redeem mankind, the best efforts of man will fall short. ILLUS:In August of 1989 millionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes spent two million dollars to fly six hundred guests to Tangiers to celebrate his 70th birthday. Surely it was one of the costliest feasts ever held, unless you count the Last Supper. It costs very, very little to buy bread and wine for the Communion table, but the supper cost the Son of God his precious blood, and costs us remorse and repentance for all our sins. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). b. Why settle for less than God's best! 4. Tragically, all the disciples deserted Him once He was arrested! a. Jesus stays the course however, He will accomplish the plans prepared. b. We are today the recipients of this wonderful gift, but we must receive it by faith. c. Will you flee from Christ, or come to Him? d. Will you prepare yourself to live for God or simply float through life? CONCLUSION:    Why are some Christians unproductive? Too many people just stumble through life. Nothing happened in Jesus' life that was not planned, He carefully planned for everything! This planned life kept Him on course and strong. What are your plans? Have you planned to lead others to Christ or just hope it happens somehow? Power and purpose flow from planning put into practice!