Greetings MOL Family!
Today, we begin a new series: 10 inspired lessons of great importance, concerning our religious experience and walk with God…
Those 24 Hours
In the Bible, we have a record of God’s dealing with His people over a four thousand year period. During this long time there were millions, billions, trillions of experiences that came to God’s people. Very few of them are recorded in the Bible. I wonder why certain ones were put in there and others weren’t? Well, the Lord knew what would best help you and me down here today. And we should give Him credit for focusing the light most clearly on that which is most important.
It’s interesting to me how curious minds long to know something that isn’t revealed, or is rather hazy. But my heavenly Father has made in His Book that most clear which I need most. Do you agree with me?
Of all the experiences that have come down through the history of the world, there is one 24-hour period that has much more space devoted to it than anything else in all these thousands of years. Which 24-hour period is that? Yes. That’s Friday, the 14th of Abib, A.D. 31 – the day that Jesus was crucified. At the beginning of that day, as the Bible begins the day – in the evening – He met with His disciples in the upper room.
Now, you will find that Matthew devotes over a hundred verses to those 24 hours. Mark devotes over a hundred verses to those 24 hours. Luke devotes over a hundred verses to those 24 hours. And the apostle John devotes the 13th, 14th, 15th,16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th chapters of his gospel to those 24 hours – over 200 verses.
Did the Holy Spirit inspire these men? Yes, all of them. There must have been something about those events that God desired that we should give special attention to. In fact, we’re told that it would be well for us if every day we would spend some time reviewing the life of Jesus, especially what? The closing scenes of His earthly life.
And so in this study, and in some of the studies to come, I would like to share with you some things that God has impressed my heart with.
Watch & Pray
We will begin today’s study with Matthew 26:30-35. This is on the road from the upper room to Gethsemane. They’ve left the supper, they’re on their way down through the streets of Jerusalem, cross the brook Kidron, and getting ready to go into the garden:
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto Him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. – Matthew 26:31-35
What did all the disciples say? They said what Peter said. Peter was a leader. We see him on the day of Pentecost leading out in that great experience. And we see him before the cross, as well as after, manifesting this gift of leadership. Leadership is a wonderful thing when the leader is going in the right direction, isn’t it? But as you remember just a few hours after what we’re reading here, Peter led all the disciples in doing what? What did Peter lead all the disciples to do when the Master was bound and led away to the judgment hall? To forsake Him.
Now, notice this is the very thing that he said he wouldn’t do. Was this hypocrisy? No, it was not hypocrisy. I read:
When Peter said he would follow his Lord to prison and to death, he meant it, every word of it. – The Desire of Ages, pg. 673
Now, a hypocrite is not sincere, but Peter was sincere. Is that true? That’s what this says:
When Peter said he would follow his Lord to prison and to death, he meant it, every word of it; but he did not know himself. Hidden in his heart were elements of evil that circumstances would fan into life. Unless he was made conscious of his danger, these would prove his eternal ruin. – Ibid
So Peter was not a hypocrite. He was sincere. But he didn’t what? Didn’t know himself. Well, fortunately, you and I know ourselves, so we’re not in danger, are we? Or are we? If we don’t think we are, then most certainly we are. Right? And if we think we are, then we’d do well to ponder. But if we don’t – all the more we need to ponder. You remember the prophet says:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9
Only the Lord knows our hearts, only the Lord. Now, the reason I want to study this with you, brothers and sisters, is that ahead of us is an experience very much like these disciples went through. You remember that a little while after the words we have read, Jesus came to Gethsemane and asked the disciples to pray while He prayed. You remember? And although they prayed after a fashion for a season, they finally did what? Went to sleep. Three times they missed the opportunity of fellowship with Christ in intercession. In Volume 2, we have this significant statement:
By these sleeping disciples is represented a sleeping church, when the day of God’s visitation is nigh. It is a time of clouds and thick darkness, when to be found asleep is most perilous. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 2, pg. 205
So as we look at Peter and his fellow disciples there in the garden of Gethsemane sleeping while Jesus prays, we get a picture, inspiration says, of a sleeping church. Now, did Jesus go to sleep? No. And those who follow Him today need not go to sleep. Those who follow Him today will not go to sleep. We must not be asleep now.
What was the thing that Jesus did instead of sleeping? He prayed. What was it that Jesus tried to get Peter to do instead of sleeping? To pray. Now notice this in Matthew 26:
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Matthew 26:41
When Jesus said the spirit is willing, He was making reference to Peter’s statement, “I’ll go with you to prison and to death.” In other words, He’s saying to Peter, “You mean all right, Peter, and you love Me after a fashion, and you think you will be true. That’s your desire, your choice. But you don’t know how weak you are. Therefore, you’d better get busy and pray, and pray hard.”
But Peter was so sure that he had what Jesus thought He needed that he did not feel that urgent push to intercede. He already had it. It was all settled. He was going to be true to Jesus no matter what happened. And even if John and Andrew and James and Matthew, and all the rest should leave Jesus, he was going to be right in there with Him fighting to the end. And that’s the point. He had in mind to fight, and that’s what he got into presently, and then ran away.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. – Matthew 26:41
God’s message to us is clear.
Join us for the next several weeks, as we learn what it means to heed these warnings from Christ, to His sleeping church. Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.