Sept. 10, 2008 The Temptation Before the Cross Kathleen Maples Part 5 1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Jesus lived a life on earth that brought honor and glory to God, His Father. He is now about to cross the Kidron brook with His disciples on His way to the garden of Gethsemane for the last time. One of His own has gone to betray Him. He has been ministering deep spiritual truth and comfort to the remaining 11 disciples. They are grieving because He has told them what is to come and how He must die and they will be separated from Him. Things seem to be unraveling very fast. Spiritual depression has its grip on them, because they do not understand why He has to suffer and be rejected and remember, He has already told them the same fate awaits them. He even said the time would come when those who killed them would think they were offering service to God by killing them. (Joh_16:2) He knows they are struggling hard in their minds and He has begun to talk to the Father, so let's listen with reverence, and hope, for He prays. Joh 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: Joh 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. This is eternal life-that we know-that we are intimately acquainted with HIM. That we have our own personal, close relationship with the Father and the Son through the Spirit, and are joined to Him as a husband is with his wife. He is our Father, and Jesus is our Bridegroom, right? For us to have eternal life we must eat His Word, drink deeply of His Spirit and continually stay connected to our Life Source- Christ. Because He and the Father are so united in thought and purpose, to be joined to the Son means to be very close to the Father, as well. Joh 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. Joh 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. Joh 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Joh 17:7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. The life Jesus lived was a praise to the Father. He was not like the religious crowd who said but did not. The Son rendered honor to the Father, and He never misrepresented Him to the people. He completed the work He was given to do. He showed the character and ways of God by being an accurate reflection of His Father to the disciples and all those around. He prays for His disciples. He knows everything His Father has is His and everything He has is the Father's. They with hold nothing from each other. He knew that He no longer was a part of the world order, the arrangement of things in this world. He came and lived a self-less life in a world system where self was king. He gave these men truth and they received it. They believed it. Jesus did not ask for the Father to lift them out of the world. That word for 'world' is kosmos, in the Greek. It means arrangement, decoration. An ornament of the heavens. He prays, Father keep them, watch over them, preserve them from evil influence. This world is in a fallen state, where everything is out of divine order. That which should be highly esteemed and is by God is abomination to men. What is highly esteemed among men is abomination to God. Jesus prays for them that even though they are living in this environment that it will no longer shape or influence them. In it but not a product of it. To accomplish that, they must be filled with and fed something not of this world-His divine nature, and His powerful Truth. Father, purify them through feeding them Your truth, Your Word. The same way You sent Me into the world, to show men who You are, I send them. I do not pray for just these, but for those who will also believe on Me through their sharing Your truth. That they all be ONE. There should be no schism, no division in that which is Christ's body. In His House there is not to be any division. His body functions under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. In the world but not of it. In the world self is king. In the kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit rules. Whomever we yield our members to is who we serve. (Rom_6:16) To yield to self will rather than divine will is serve self not Christ. Oh, Lord help us. Christ in us and the Father in Christ makes us complete, consecrated or set apart, a finished, perfect creation, all in the Father. Then the world will understand that You sent Me, Father, and that you have loved them (Joh_3:16). God had to have a testimony of truth and Christ was that Testimony. Joh 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. He desired that His own not be separated from Him That they could and would be with Him in the heavenlies, that they follow Him there, and that they see the the glory of God given to the Son, which was the sacrificial, all consuming love the Father had for the Son from before the time of the Creation of the world. He was making a way that the love shared between the Father and Son would be poured out in the hearts of these men, that they would have this 1Co_13:1 love among themselves and for others. That kind of selfless love would stand out in a world that crowned self king. Joh 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. Everything here means something. He's just finished a beautiful intercessory prayer that includes us, as well, and goes across this small brook, whose name means 'black torrent' into the Garden of Gethsemane, which means 'oil press'. One thing I learned from studying these Scriptures, is the Garden of Gethsemane was full of Olive trees. The are unique trees. As I stared at a picture of them, I saw they have three separate trunks that join together to form one base at the bottom. To me, this testifies of the Trinity. The olive tree grows slowly but lives to an immense age. The old olive tree sends out young suckers which spring up around the parent tree and when the parent tree's strength fails the young trees provide shelter on every side. The olive tree was shaken to get the fruit to fall, so it could be gathered and though the olive could be eaten, it is highly valued for the oil inside. The olive is squeezed, pressed hard, so the oil is extracted. This is a pressing place for Jesus Christ. His disciples are with Him. It's a hard place and His flesh doesn't want to be here anymore than they do. He gives them a quiet but powerful warning: Luk 22:40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. In the Greek, this word for temptation is 'peirasmos' and it means extreme adversity, sent to prove or test the integrity of man, often allowed by God. It's a proving ground, a trial by fire. He was going to be put in a situation where natural instinct would be to sin. The adversity would be so hard every physical instinct would cry out for a reaction that though natural, would be sin to yield to. To allow flesh-the natural self, to react, or have its way in this extreme trial would be rebellion against the will of God. He knew the enemy would also try to overthrow their faith, by using the trial He was going to endure. He urged them to pray. Pray that you do not give into flesh and behave as the enemy of your soul is tempting you to do in this trial. That is what He is warning them about. The devil wants to overthrow their faith. He wants them to panic and run scared and reject Jesus and His call on their lives when they see His suffering. This is his desire for us as well when we go through trials and adversity. We need to remember God never allows anything to come against us He knows we can't endure. He is always our ever present Help in trouble, (Psa_46:1). Flesh wants to give up but patient endurance motivated by faith and love for God brings honor to His name and defeats the plan of the devil. (Luk_21:19; Mat_24:13) Mar 14:33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; Mar 14:34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. Jesus told them when they entered the garden, you stay here, while I go over there and pray, but He took Peter, James and John apart from the others, with Him about a stone's throw away from the other 9 disciples. It's dark, quiet, and suddenly, out of the presence of 9 of the 12, Jesus' demeanor begins to change. His distress and sorrow became apparent to the 3 disciples. He was grieved. He warns them, pray that ye enter not into temptation. They watched a dramatic change occur in the Lord's demeanor. Surely, this added to their own fear, for they'd never seen Him like this before. The tension in the air among them must have been so thick and so heavy. There was a grief in the Lord that they could not bear to see. He warns them to stay awake, to be vigilant and watchful. They watch Him move away a little and fall down on the ground, on His face before the Father, and heard the groaning of His prayer that if it were possible, that this fate be put away from Him. I have to wonder, what was He dreading the most? The betrayal of Judas, signified by a kiss? The torment His flesh would undergo in the suffering? The great temptation to sin by allowing the torment to cause Him to feel bitter or angry at those hurting and killing Him? Can you just imagine the power of God that had to be unleashed to prevent these defiling things from rising up under such great suffering? He was Deity in the flesh-but He was tempted in all points like we are. He knew the temptation to hate and resent those who would mistreat Him so terribly. Physical pain normally provokes this kind of response, inwardly, even if it is not manifested outwardly. Mar 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. Luk_22:43 tells us an angel appeared to Jesus from heaven and strengthened Him. He was struggling here like He had not before. There was a severe mental struggle with emotions and feelings and thoughts being brought under mastery here. Scripture never says Satan is in the garden shooting fiery darts at the Lord's mind, but I believe he was there. I believe he unleashed a hellish attack against the mind of Jesus Christ like we have never experienced. I've never been in the situation Jesus was here, but I've had a taste of this kind of mental agony-and I can't imagine how awful it was for Him. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't dare compare my light afflictions to the major suffering of the Lord. But when it hits you, you know it. I have been enduring trials that everything in me wanted to run away from and suffered mental agony and hellish attacks against my mind so strong all I could do was get on my knees and cry out for help. I couldn't pray, all I could say was "help, Lord!" And you know help to get through it is only found one place-Him. The disciples couldn't handle it. They were tired, weary, and so discouraged and afraid. The Lord was praying so hard, He broke out in a heavy, thick sweat, as if it were like blood. He rouses Himself and goes to the three disciples, and finds them sleeping for sorrow, they were grief stricken, and heavy with despair. (Luk_22:45) He addresses Peter, calling him "Simon, you sleep? You are not strong enough to to keep a watch, to stay awake just for an hour?" Oh, the guilt. Here he had bragged just a little while earlier, "Lord, I'll go with you all the way, even to jail or death." But his flesh was too strong for him. Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Be vigilant, pray that you don't yield to sin in this great trial like the devil wants you too! Your spirit is ready, and eager to pray, but the human nature, with its frailties and carnal passions has no strength to endure this trial. Oh, He truly knows what we are made of. Our own flesh is more than we can handle without the Holy Spirit. He leaves them again to return to pray the same prayer again. Oh, Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done. He returns a while later to find them sleeping again, for their eyes were heavy. (Mar_14:40) They didn't know what to say to Him, and this whole situation they found themselves in was a burden they could not on their own carry. Despairing, they just sought refuge in sleep-where they didn't have to think about anything. Sleep on. It's too late to pray now. The hour is at hand. Get up, My betrayer is here. The tired and sleepy disciples awake to the sound of a group of men coming in among their midst in the darkness. Torches are blazing, casting shadows everywhere. They hear the rattling of chains brought to bind the Master with. Judas came with a band of men with authority to arrest Jesus, sent from the most powerful of the priests and Pharisees, with lanterns, torches and weapons. The disciples stand and watch Jesus step forward in the darkness. "Whom seek ye?" He asks and they answer "Jesus of Nazareth". Judas stands with them, and Jesus says "I Am He." As soon as He says this, they step backward and tumble to the ground, a tangled, inept mass of humanity. Why do I say that? For one thing, the fact they all fell back as a group, tells me they were standing so closely together (out of fear and uncertainty?) that when those in front stepped back, they fell into one another and all fell to the ground. There was fear among those who would be His captors. Don't ever listen to anyone who tries to pass blame for His death on the Jews. Yes, they cried out for His death-but He could never have been slain by men. This was all arranged and He went along with it for our sakes. He yielded His members to the will of the Father, though it meant great suffering and shame, for a short time, that for the eternal joy set before Him, He endured. My feeble mind can't comprehend how much or why He could love us. When I look around and see the atrocious things people do to one another, when I sit at His feet and learn such magnificent truth, yet while I sit in light, I also see it light up things in my heart that just as bad, things I wish, and pray, Oh, God cut them out of me, take that Word that is sharper than any two edged sword and cut these things out of me that are unlike you! How unlovable it makes me feel. How unworthy. I am so grateful that even though He knows my flaws, He is still willing to open His precious truth to me and show it to me. He has convinced this child that if this becomes reality in my life, it will all be a work of God's Spirit for I can not do this. I can't be this. I can't walk and live like He did. He must do this in me. He has given me the desire to do it and He is the power to make it a reality. HE alone will be glorified as He perfects what concerns me. Again, He asks this nervous group of officers, "Whom seek ye?" and they answer Him the same. They had all heard who He was and what He had done. They knew this Man possessed supernatural power they did not. They were afraid but they had been sent to do this. He answers them, "I've told you I am He. If I am who you seek, let these go their way." He still protected His own. Judas steps forward and gives the signal, approaching the Lord, and kisses Him on the cheek. Jesus looks at him and calls him his name, calls him friend, and asks him why he has come, full well knowing he has betrayed Him. The flesh is subdued. There is no unforgiveness, no resentment or bitterness against Judas in the heart of the Lord. Nothing will be allowed to pollute or defile the Sacrifice. One of Jesus' disciples cries out "Lord, shall w smite with the sword?" and Peter doesn't wait for permission. Peter grabs his sword and starts swinging, trying to defend Jesus. He cuts off the ear of Malchus, the personal servant of the high priest, Caiaphas. Flesh is reacting. Peter could have been charged with assault and jailed with Christ because of this. Can you imagine the stunned reaction of Malchus when our Lord reaches out a hand that would soon be pierced and restores the ear? He takes away the pain, and makes his ear whole. "Do you not think I can call out to My Father, for the twelve legions of angels standing ready to defend Me? If you look this up in the Greek, it implies these angels were there, at hand, ready at word to defend Him from being taken, with eager anticipation-just waiting for Him to call out. But if I do this, how can My Father's Word be fulfilled? Oh, the Father's Word meant so much to the Son. He would not violate It. He would not violate Truth, nor by His behavior make the Truth a lie, as men do. Again, He reminds them all this is happening because the Scripture must be fulfilled. When He says this, all of the disciples leave him and flee for their own lives, seeking escape. Jesus knows that forces of darkness and evil have been granted authority to do this, and why it must be, so He does not resist. They seize Him, they bind Him, and take Him to Annas' house before they go on to Caiaphas' house. Peter follows from a distance, desperately needing to see what will happen. The other disciple that followed, it is believed to be John. He alone of all four of the Gospels, names the servant whose ear Peter cut off. He was known to the high priest, and this information would be know to him, as well. He gets Peter inside the palace of the high priest. He speaks to the girl who is the door keeper of the palace and brings in Peter. She asks Peter if he is one of Jesus' disciples. He said, I know Him not. He's warming himself by their fire, and all the servants in this place know who has been arrested and brought here in the dead of the night, and that in itself was suspicious. It was not being done publicly or openly, but in the middle of the night. He hears what is going on in this place. He hears them trying to find people to lie and bear false witness against Jesus. Many stepped forward, but their stories were so flimsy, even the Pharisees and priests knew they would not hold up before Pilate. Then one stepped forward and twisted Jesus' words. "HE said He could destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days!" (Joh_2:19) They didn't understand He was talking about His own body, the dwelling place of the God they claimed to represent. The high priest rose up, "What have you nothing to say to these accusations?" but Jesus held His peace. Being falsely accused, the Master remained quiet. They still couldn't get this story straight, and agree, either. He asks Him about His disciples, and His teachings. You know Peter and John's ears perked up at the mention of themselves. They thought Jesus was backed into a corner. This situation was getting worse by the minute. There was an anger simmering among many of those present against Jesus, driven by demonic powers, hungry to destroy Him. Jesus turned it around, though, "I spake openly," He says. (Unlike this quickly arranged, middle of the night, mockery of a trial with this kangaroo court). I taught in the synagogue, in public, and in the temple, and this is where the Jews were. I didn't teach in secret. Ask them what I have said. They know." This made someone very angry for someone struck out at Jesus and slapped him, accusing Jesus of speaking improperly to the high priest, which He did not. Finally, in exasperation, the high priest asked Him if He was the Christ, the Son of God? Peter is hearing this, and his mind is racing. He was being sifted. There were fiery darts being shot into his mind. Is this what you signed on and left everything for? You gave up your whole life and look where it has got you. Look where it got Him. IF He is really the Son of God, why doesn't do He do something to stop this? IF He is who He said He was, why does He let them treat Him this way? Listen how they mock Him! See how they beat Him! What does He do? Nothing. What can He do? Nothing!! Peter was not strong enough to withstand this kind of onslaught in his own strength. The devil wanted him to forsake Jesus in his heart, to give up his faith. To begin to doubt the One he should trust. You give up your whole life and this is the thanks you get for it? He doesn't deserve your loyalty. You'd be better off just going back to the fishing thing. Let somebody else do this. You can't. After a short time, another saw him and identified him as being one of Jesus' disciples but again, he denies this. Within another hour, he is confronted again, for the third time, and this time, in anger and fear, he curses, vehemently denying Him. There must have been a mental agony raging in Peter's mind. His own words must have been haunting him. "I'll go with you, Lord, all the way to jail or death. I'll die for you, but I won't deny you!" With each denial, his fear must have grown. Luk 22:60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. Luk 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Luk 22:62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. Now, Jesus is standing in the midst of a crowd of angry, raging people. He's being buffeted, hit, falsely accused, threatened. Yet, when he hears that cock crow, He turns away from those who torment Him to look at His beloved disciple. I don't believe Jesus' look was an "I told you so" or "Why Peter" look. I believe there was love and compassion in Jesus Christ's gaze and that was what left Peter undone. He went out and wept bitterly, the Scripture says. If Jesus had looked at Him in anger, that would have provoked Peter's flesh to try to defend its bad behavior. But there was a love and compassion that left Peter undone. I failed Him, I denied Him, but He hasn't me. Oh, it broke this man in pieces. It shredded what remained of any confidence in self. He could take no more. He had to get out of there. But Jesus couldn't leave. They were blindfolding Him, beating Him in the face, mocking Him, daring Him to prophesy, guess who hit you, if you are Deity! They blasphemed Him who is Holy without fear or understanding of what they were doing. He endured their scorn, their abuse, and false accusations. They were angry because they were seeking a cause against Him and they couldn't even get their lies straight enough to take to Pilate and convince him to put Jesus to death. Finally, the high priest demands to know if He is truly the Son of God, if He is the Christ. Jesus cannot deny Himself. He gives them truth, and I believe He drew a measure of comfort when He quoted the Word of God to them: Mat 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Remember, it is written: Dan 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. Dan 7:14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. The devil can't stand it when Jesus feeds Him the Truth. Truth triumphs every time and that wicked one knows it. Frustration and rage erupts in the high priest, he dramatically rips his clothing as if he is grieved by what he considers blasphemy. Remember, just as Jesus warned the disciples that the time would come when those who killed them would think they were doing God a service, so here did they think they were serving God to seek to slay the Only Begotten Son of God. They did not understand or believe that their Creator had come to them and they would not receive Him. What do we need witnesses for? He's blasphemed before us all! They considered Him guilty of death. They wanted badly to be rid of Him. Isn't that the case when one loves darkness and this world rather than light and truth, even at the expense of self? Roaches run from the light. So do those who love darkness. They who love a lie see Truth as a threat to be misrepresented and destroyed. This same warfare is still raging. The devil has launched an assault against the truth of the Word of God with his 'gospel of Judas' and 'DaVinci code'. There will always be those who will be tools of the evil one to try to cast discrepancies and misrepresent or distort the truth. But His Word is forever settled in heaven and cannot be changed. The Word of God has triumphed over evil and over lies every time. When everything crumbles under your feet and all you have left to stand on is the Word of God, that is more than enough. He upholds all things by the Word of His Power. (Heb_1:3). 2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. We've just seen what happens when men oppose everything that is God, and would exalt themselves above all that is called God-and that is His Word, which was made flesh and walked this earth among men. His Word is still here. But self always wants to be exalted. We see the rise of the anti-christ spirit in schools, in our government, in our universities, everywhere. Be not shaken by this. Dig in deep in the Truth and trust this Word of God to hold you up. Connect yourself to HIM. Abide in Him. Then you will be on the Rock and when the storm rages all around you, your temple will not be destroyed for you will be built on HIM. Now is the time to be fortifying ourselves as much as we can in His Word, His truth. Dig in deep, saints. Only deep roots hold up the tree in the storm. Lay hold on Truth and do not let go of it, no matter what you see or hear in the coming days. Trust God, not people, not self, not the sight of your eyes or what your ears hear. Trust HIM. Have faith in HIM. He is still in control and always will be. The devil will never defeat Him. Arm yourselves with the Truth and stand on it, bank your life, and the lives of your loved ones on it and you will not be sorry. They may reproach you for it now, but the time will come when they wish they had listened and dug in. Do not be a foolish virgin who waits until it's too late to fill up with oil. Do it now. This is not something you can do overnight. Start now. Dig and pray in this Word. Pray and Dig. And trust Him.