Was He Praying In That Silence?

Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'”

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. Matthew 26:61-62

Jesus remained silent. He didn’t have to speak. He had truth on His side. He didn’t have to answer to anyone. Jesus still held the cards.

What was playing through His mind during all of this? Was He praying for his captors and rulers? Was He listing in His mind the number and types of punishment these people would receive eventually?

I had a professor in Bible School that would be speaking and all of a sudden, he’d stop, nod his head a few times and slowly look at the 30 students in his class, all the while nodding his head. Then he’d continue speaking. No one in class doubted for a moment what he was doing during that silence and looking around the classroom: he was praying. What could he say that would remain with the students? How’s that man in the back dealing with all the stress of family life? Where would these students be 10 years from now.

My guess is that He was praying for the people who were falsely accusing Him. How else explains the calm demeanor? It wasn’t a “bite your tongue” anger that we might experience if we really wanted to speak but choose not to.

Praying for people when they don’t know you’re praying for them always gives you the upper hand in any situation. That’s where the introverts have an advantage because we may not be inclined to speak anyhow. On the other hand, what’s being said might just “be fightin’ words” and we’re “forced” to talk back.

Of course all of this is speculation, but we do know He was doing only as the Father commanded. He was being completely obedient, humble to the point of imminent death.

This week as you’re gathered around the Thanksgiving table, pray for those surrounding you. There are plenty of arguments that could ensue as you get together but you should just pray for those speaking. If someone asks you, by all means, let them know what you think, but pray a lot this weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

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Life is Totally Unfair

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Matthew 26:57-60

These religious leaders were corrupt beyond belief. Not being able to kill him based on what He had said, they had been actively searching for those who could testify against Him, and were willing to take those who gave false testimony. I’d love to hear how they justified their actions.

Life is unfair.

In most of the world, life is really unfair. People are mistreated, abused, overtaxed, undervalued, taken advantage of, and harassed by corrupt government officials. It’s been like that since the world began. Power-hungry corrupt officials have dominated societies. So, the statement, “life is unfair” is a serious understatement.

Even in Western society, life is unfair. We feel the effects less but we’ve all felt the unfairness of mistreatment and abuse. That’s not even to mention the young person dying so young or the child with terminal cancer situations.

We hate it. It’s totally unfair. Unfair all around.

Often the best we can do is bring it to God in prayer. Without question, Jesus understood unfair and injustice and helplessness. He understands it and can life you out of the mess you’re in through no fault of your own. Will He make it disappear? Probably not, but He will bear you up and see you through it.

Of course, He sees the injustices and is waiting to make the crooked paths straight and to right all the wrongs.

Will we see it in our lifetime? Possibly but probably not.

But justice will be served.

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If the Friends All Flee

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:1-56

Within a minute’s time, Peter (Luke 22:50) went from cutting off Malchus’ ear to fleeing when the soldiers hauled Jesus away. The Book of Luke recounts Jesus actually healing the man before the disciples fled.

The disciples were clearly confused and afraid. Even though Jesus foretold everything, they still lacked the courage to follow through on what they knew they should do. What should they have done? First, not flee. After that, they should have followed the soldiers to where they would hold him.

But none of that really is important because it wasn’t what they actually did.

Recall yesterday I mentioned that Jesus experienced everything we have yet was without sin? Loneliness. Feeling like everyone has deserted you. They had! Talk about being alone in the world! The ultimate, however, would be in a few hours when he would feel abandoned by the Father.

Jesus can relate to our times of loneliness and abandonment. His closest friends deserted him in His hour of need. If you are feeling that way right now, know that the Holy Spirit is your comfort. He will help ease your load and bear your burdens.

Rest in the assurance that, you’re truly in good hands and He won’t let you fall.

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He Wanted Their Prayers Too

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

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.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:40-46

Who among us hasn’t felt weary and tired when kneeling to pray?

The question I’ve not heard anyone ask is, if the Son of God is praying, why was it necessary for His disciples to pray?

I’ve often wondered about incidents where preachers or politicians ask you to pray. Does one person effect change from God? Do a million? What’s the number? Or is it different for everyone?

The President of the United States – no matter who is in office – is under tremendous pressure 24/7. The decisions he has to make would stagger most “normal” humans.

However, when you know that you have one or two million people praying for your strength and wisdom, you have to know that it makes a difference. It’s not that all the decisions he makes will be godly or spot on, but knowing that people are taking the time helps.

That’s true of your pastor, missionaries, or orphanage workers. And sometimes the Spirit will wake you to pray for something overseas and you have no idea why until months or years later. This “principle” also holds true for people in your small group.

But in this instance, Jesus want His friends to “have His back,” as it were. He wanted desperately to know that in the midst of the Son of God’s greatest struggle, that those closest to Him would be going to the Father on His behalf.

But they slept.

You will probably have opportunities this week to have someone’s back in prayer. Take it seriously because their struggle is real to them – even if it doesn’t feel real to you.

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He Was Victorious On His Knees

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 Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

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.” Matthew 26:36-39

No one else has ever been able to say these words: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”

We become sorrowful and sad when someone betrays us. Our heart hurts at the death of a loved one. We are in anguish when our children fall away from God.

As bad as those events are in our lives – and they can be devastating – nothing compares to the sorry Christ in that garden.

He quite literally had the weight of the world on His shoulders. It’s what He came to earth to do.

I recall going through a mock POW camp in the Air Force. At any point in the training, I could say a few words, the “actors” would confirm I wanted to use those words, and the “games” would be over for me as a participant. Because I was required to go through the training, no one knew what it would mean career-wise to say those words. Sure, the momentary pain would be gone, but being in a brand new career after being trained for 2 years would be a huge blow. No one in my class used that phrase because we knew what it meant. We all, however, had been tempted during those 24 hours to use it.

Jesus, too, had one of those code words. Not sure what it was but He had the power to stop what was coming His way at the snap of his fingers. But He was obeying the will of the Father. He know He had to get through this moment. In the garden is where His battle was being fought, on His knees, pleading with the Father.

That’s the takeaway with this passage. Jesus’ victory was when He was on His knees. I say victory because He prayed and there was no other way for salvation to occur in the Father’s eyes. None. It was an answer to His prayer. Throughout this time, He would experience more agony with His Father but that would be when He was in physical pain as the blood was already flowing.

Can we pray while driving or walking or sitting on a couch? Absolutely.

But making an effort when you’re not doing anything else helps to focus your attention a bit more. It’s also telling God you mean business and are making the time for Him.

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