Daily Devotional

April 2, 2021

Daybreak: Matthew 26:31-75

“And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:75)

Have you ever wished you could erase an incident from your memory, or at least have the opportunity to do it over? Once, when I was a young child, my mother gave me money to purchase something she needed for baking. She only had one large bill, and she handed it to me hesitantly, along with instructions about the importance of not losing it as I walked to the store. Other items would need to be purchased later with the change I would receive from that same large bill. I recall how sure of myself I was. I laughed and even waved the bill around saying, “Sure, I’ll lose it! I’ll lose it!” Well, you can guess what happened — I did indeed lose it. Oh, what a feeling settled over me as that reality sank in! I’ll never forget the agony I felt as I walked home that day, empty-handed and empty-pocketed. I desperately wanted to erase the whole hour and everything I had said to my mother. I would gladly have deleted that whole day and just lived a day less in my lifetime! 

Like Peter discovered, good intentions and boasts can prove to be worthless. What sorrow he felt when the cock crowed, and he realized that he had, indeed, failed his Lord. Peter, no doubt, remembered how lovingly and patiently Jesus had instructed him. How careless he had been with such valuable admonition! Did he rush to Gethsemane and throw himself on the grass where his Master had so recently prayed? Did his tears mingle with the tears his Master had shed? Perhaps he thought back to the time when Jesus had said, “Watch and pray.” How he wished that he had properly valued and heeded those words! 

We are subject to failure if we are operating in our own strength. Like being in quicksand, every move only makes matters worse. When we fail and then realize our own inadequacy, what should we do? The answer is simple: we should cry out to our Heavenly Father for help, as Peter must have done through his tears.

Many times people focus on past failures and wonder where to go from there. If that is where you find yourself today, remember that Peter’s story didn’t end with failure and neither should ours. Jesus still loved Peter, and He loves us. In mercy and compassion He restored Peter, and He will restore anyone who comes to Him today with a broken and a contrite heart. What a wonderful thing that God is willing to forgive! 

Background

The scenes pictured in today’s text are some of the most moving in all of the New Testament. The Mount of Olives, where Jesus went to pray, actually consists of three hills located to the east of Jerusalem. The half-mile wide Kidron Valley lies between the Mount of Olives and the city. The Garden of Gethsemene was an olive orchard on the western slope of the Mount of Olives; the name Gethsemane meansolive press, a mechanism similar to ones used for crushing grapes. 

Christ’s sorrow as He prayed in the Garden was beyond human comprehension. He was not only facing physical torture and death, but He also would take on the burden and penalty of all the world’s sin. He was aware of the great hypocrisy of His accusers, the coming betrayal by His own follower, and the fact that His dearest earthly friends and companions would forsake Him in His hour of greatest need.

Peter, James, and John — the three who had been privileged to witness the glory of Christ’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:1) — were the ones chosen to share His great agony as He prayed in the Garden. However, likely due to emotional fatigue and physical exhaustion, or simply not feeling the urgency of the situation, they fell asleep instead of tarrying in prayer with their Master.

Jesus’ arrest took place in the Garden during the middle of the night. No doubt the lights of the soldiers were visible as they approached, but Jesus made no attempt to flee or defend Himself. His restraint was due to His willingness to obey the will of the Father and so fulfill the Scriptures. 

Caiaphas, as the high priest, was the head of the Sanhedrin, which was composed of seventy members — the chief priests, elders, and scribes. During the century prior to Roman takeover in 66 B.C., the Sanhedrin appeared to have been at its peak in power. Then the Roman rulers began to appoint the officers and the high priests, and the result was a great decline in the spiritual base of the Sanhedrin. By the time of Christ, the Sanhedrin exercised both civil and criminal jurisdiction. While it was the final court of appeal for all questions connected with Mosaic Law, it had lost its right of mandating capital punishment without the confirmation of the Roman procurator. Therefore, Jesus’ accusers turned Him over to Pilate, the Roman governor, who tried to put Him under Herod’s jurisdiction. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, who ultimately issued the order of crucifixion.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VI.   The official presentation and rejection of the King
       E.   The sufferings and death of the King
             1.   The preparation of the King
                   f.   The prediction of Peter’s denial (26:31-35)
                   g.   The agony in the garden (26:36-46)
             2.   The arrest and trial of the King
                   a.   The arrest of the King (26:47-56)
                   b.   The trial of the King before Caiaphas (26:57-68)
                   c.   The denial of Peter (26:69-75)

A Closer Look

  1. What was Jesus’ question to the multitude that came to take Him away?
     
  2. Why do you think Peter denied Christ, even though he had previously stated that he would never forsake his Master?
     
  3. How might we prepare ourselves to always make the right decision in standing up for Christ, and in guarding our own testimonies?

Conclusion

Only as we realize the greatness of our own weakness can we draw from the greatest of God’s strength and power. 

Reference Materials