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February 26, 2017
Pastor Jeff Struecker
By almost any measure that you would use, Henry Ford’s first automobile was pretty much a failure. Henry Ford was 32 years old when he created the very first automobile in a little work shed out behind his house in Michigan. It was called the Quadricycle. The reason he called it the Quadricycle really is because it has four wheels instead of two but they were bicycle wheels. It had a small engine on the back and used a chain a lot like a bicycle to propel the vehicle. Ford was working on this thing for about two years. He put this small gasoline engine in the back that ran on ethanol. It was a two-cylinder engine that was supposed to create 4 hp. He had a transmission with two gears on it. It didn’t have reverse so you’d have to push this thing into reverse. Ford took it out and started to drive around town in this horseless carriage, this automotive bicycle, or Quadricycle. Every time Ford tested it the tests failed. In fact, the best that he could do was to get it up to 20 miles an hour. Ford didn’t yet understand the ratio between horsepower and torque. So, no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get this thing to shift into second gear. By every standard that you would use in June 1896, this machine was a failure. It was a failure that Henry Ford learned from. The only way that this machine didn’t fail was in sales. In Ford’s day because this was so much of a novelty, when people saw him driving this horseless carriage around town they paid $200 cash for him to build one for them. He learned a few lessons from this mistake of a vehicle and made enough money that he eventually created the Henry Ford Company. By 1903 he created the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford would go on to become one of the most successful industrialists in America’s history. He became one of the richest men in the world because he made some mistakes and he learned from those mistakes.
Today, if you’re new to our church, we’re studying through the book of Luke. We’re in Luke chapter 22. Today what you’ll hear from the Bible is a mistake, perhaps one of the greatest mistakes with the greatest failure recorded anywhere in Scripture. I think as we learn from the book of Luke today, we’re going to see how we should respond when we mess up, when we blow it, when we make some mistakes, and when we fail along the way.
I. Surrender your will to the Holy Spirit
Luke chapter 22 is going to tell us to surrender our will to the will of the Holy Spirit. What we read next in the book of Luke is that Jesus warned his disciples more than once this was about to happen and it happened anyway. In other words, they either didn’t take Jesus seriously or they thought they were strong enough to handle this on their own and they all realized they weren’t.
Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” 41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. 45 At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”
If you were with us last week, I said this was a spiritual battle. Jesus was preparing people to be in a spiritual battle. The battle starts inside of you at the soul level. Then I challenged us from the book of Luke last week to let this battle first rage inside of you and then rage around you for the souls of others. I wonder, did you do battle this past week in you or around you? Last week Jesus had the Lord’s Supper or we as call it the Last Supper. As soon as that meal was over with it was his normal practice to leave and pray. I’ve said this many times to us. If Jesus needed to pray, don’t we really need to pray a lot more often? Or, don’t we need prayer much more than Jesus needed it? He leaves the upper room and takes his disciples to go into the garden to pray.
In verse 40 the temptation that Jesus is describing here is not just to be tested but that if you fall it will lead to your destruction. He’s saying, “Pray right now. I warned you at the Last Supper and I’m warning you again. Pray right now for yourself. You need it.”
In Jesus’s day, when people went to the Temple they typically stood and they held their hands or their head up and spoke to God. When somebody knelt or fell to the ground it was a sign of deep anguish, great remorse, or of wrestling with God in prayer, which is what you see here in verse 41. Jesus is tormented by what’s about to happen to them. Jesus is wrestling with his Father in prayer.
This scene that takes place is described in all of the Gospels. Jesus is wrestling with what’s about to happen. Jesus, the Son of God, can see into the future. He knows the suffering that’s about to happen. Jesus says to God the Father, “God, I don’t want to go through this. My will is not to go through the suffering and the shame that I’m about to endure.” However, Jesus is the only man in human history who was always totally submitted to the will of God and led by the will of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “Whatever you want to happen to me next God, my will is submitted to your will. God, your will be done not my will.” This is Jesus knowing ahead of time what’s about to happen.
He warns the disciples not once but three times to pray. He said to pray before they leave the upper room, pray when they get to the garden, and get up and pray again because Satan was asking to cause them to suffer so they should pray right now. No matter how many times he tells them, they miss it. Either they didn’t hear it or there was something wrong inside their heart that prevented them from surrendering to the will of God like Jesus was surrendered to the will of God.
I owe it to you to point this out. If you have a paper Bible, would you please look down at your Bible at verses 43 and 44. Most translations of the Bible are going to either put a bracket or an asterisk around 43 and 44. The New Living Translation will have an asterisk. Here’s what the Bible translators will say. The earliest manuscripts don’t have these two verses in the Bible. We’re not saying that it didn’t happen but it’s almost certain that Luke didn’t write verses 43 and 44. So, if your Bible is really serious about the accuracy of the Scriptures that you’re reading, it’s probably going to point out to you those two verses aren’t in the original book that Luke wrote. I hesitate to say this but this is one of reasons why I rarely ever use the ESV when I’m preaching because the ESV doesn’t point this out to us. I believe the Bible translators owe it to us. Are we saying that this didn’t happen? No. We’re saying that Luke didn’t write it. Somebody else probably wrote it later and added it to the book of Luke. It doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is wrestling with God in prayer and he’s struggling over what God is going to ask of him next.
Jesus perfectly and totally submits his will to God here. If you and I are honest, you probably wake up in the morning and you probably struggle the same struggles that Jesus went through in the garden and that Jesus is warning his disciples that they’re going to go through. Your will and my will often don’t line up with the will of God. In fact, what we’re hearing today from Scripture is that our flesh is weak. Sometimes when we try to handle things on our own and in our own flesh, our will starts to go one direction when God is really trying to lead us in another direction. I think, if these disciples were honest, they would say, “Jesus, we’re trying right now but I can’t make myself want to do what you’re asking me to do. I don’t even know how to make my will like your will. I don’t know how to make my will submit to your will.” I find myself in that boat sometimes. I suspect that you do too. That’s why I have this little list. There’s no secret formula here. It’s just a couple of things for you to think about on how you can surrender your will to the will of God.
Steps to surrender to the Holy Spirit
Admit your weakness Don’t try to be strong enough to handle things on your own. Admit your weakness. Admit that your will, that your flesh, or that your heart has a bent toward sin. Admit your need for God. If you don’t do that, the rest of the steps are going to be worthless.
Don’t try to handle temptation on your own. There is no place in Scripture where you are commanded to dig your heels in, bear down, and face temptation when it becomes overwhelming. In fact, most of Scripture says when it gets too much run away. God will give you an out or a backdoor so that you can run away. Don’t stand there and take it because, if you do like the disciples today, you’re going to fall and give in to that temptation. If you’re not careful, it will destroy you.
Develop a radical dependence on Christ. I’m not talking about Sunday mornings. I’m talking about tomorrow when you wake up develop a radical dependence on Christ. It’s lying in bed before your feet hit the ground tomorrow morning saying, “God, I’m not strong enough. I’m not tough enough. I’m not capable of handling the pressures, the struggles, or the temptations of life on my own. So today I need you. Every minute of today I need you.” Tuesday morning when you wake up pray that same prayer, “Today I need you just as bad as I needed you yesterday, God.” That’s what a radical dependence on Christ looks like. That opens the door for him to start to have his will in you.
Allow him to have his will in you so that your will and his will start to line up together.
Let him have his way through you.It’s only after he starts to have his will in you that he can start to have his will through you.
It begins with this admission of your weakness and it moves towards this radical dependence on Jesus. From there he starts to move in you and then he starts to move through you. Pretty soon you’ll find that you’re walking step in step with his Spirit. You’re walking in this perfect submission to the will of God and to the will of the Holy Spirit.
II. Let God defend you
Now what we’re about to start reading next in the Bible is often referred to as the Passion Narrative. This is the suffering that Jesus is going to go through. I want to remind us before we get started into the Passion Narrative in the book of Luke that this man is the sinless Son of God. He is the only innocent person who can walk planet Earth and say, “I’ve never committed a sin, not with my hands and not with my heart. There’s never been anything that I’ve done wrong.” He’s a man with all power. He is God made into flesh. So, if there is a guy who can stand up and handle things on his own, it’s Jesus. Notice from this description that he chooses not to do that.
47 But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. 48 But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” 50 And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 53 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.”
In verse 47 Luke is trying to drive a point home. Judas is one of Jesus’s closest friends. Luke tells us he’s one of the inner circle. He’s one of the twelve closest men in the world to him. Luke tells us that Judas sold Jesus out for some money. It’s bad enough what Judas did but the way Judas does it is even worse. It’s a slap in the face and that’s what Jesus is saying here when Judas walks over to Jesus and he greets him with a kiss. Jesus says to Judas, “Would you betray an innocent man? Would you betray everything I’ve taught you and all that you believe? And, would you do it with the kiss?” In Jesus’s day, this holy kiss of greeting was reserved for the closest relationships. Jesus is saying, “Judas, you are going to use my relationship with you to make some money. You’re going to sell me out and use my relationship with you to sell me out for a little bit of money to this crowd that gathers.”
Last week Jesus was telling them they were about to enter into a battle and they needed to bring some swords with them. Today, they’re ready. They have the swords so they’re about to go to war but that’s not what Jesus is asking them to do. Mark tells us that it’s Peter who has the sword and strikes at the high priest. He almost killed the guy with his hacking and slashing trying to defend Jesus. He cuts the guy’s ear all the way off. All four of the Gospels tell us what Jesus does next. He heals the man’s ear. I’m going to put you on the spot for just a second. If you were in Jesus’s shoes, would you do this? Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “I could call down legions of armies of angels, if I wanted to defend myself.” While he’s in the garden he chooses not to do it. He allows God to defend him. However, Jesus also knows he has all the power and authority of God and if he chooses he can destroy them with the words of his mouth. Instead the very enemies that come to take him away, Jesus reaches over and touches this guy, Malchus. He healed him. I want to ask you, would you do that? If you were in Jesus’s shoes and had Jesus’s power, would you do what Jesus did or would you try to defend yourself? Would you try to explain why you’re innocent? Would you try to make it look like it’s not your fault? Would you be the one standing up and defending yourself because when you do you don’t give God the opportunity to defend you.
This crowd was huge. The way that he describes these three groups of people that show up here is that it virtually represents all of the leaders in Israel. Everybody hates Jesus. Everybody wants to see Jesus crucified. So, everybody shows up to the garden to arrest him. They are cowards. Jesus says, “You came when I was isolated and by myself because you didn’t want anybody else to see what you were doing. Am I a revolutionary? Did I try to take over the throne of Rome? Did I try to throw out the king of Israel? Is that why you come at me with swords and with clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in front of everybody? I was there every day.”
For the next couple of chapters Luke is going to describe the darkest moments in human history. A time when Satan has free reign because God is allowing him to cause the Son of Man to suffer. Jesus is arrested. He’s taken away. He is innocent. Though he could stand up, declare his innocence and defend himself, Jesus willingly allows himself to be taken away. here’s the truth Jesus cares more about the plan of God then he does about standing up to defend himself. Jesus knew this was the plan all along even back to the garden in Genesis. Although it sounds like the plot of man, it’s really the hand of God that is orchestrating these events.
III. Be quick to lament your sin
This week as I was studying the book of Luke, I was going to talk to us about being courageous and the Lord really challenged me on something. He challenged me about my heart and my willingness to lament, to mourn, and to weep over my sins. What we read next is the failure of one of the greatest men in the New Testament. Jesus warned him this was going to happen and yet he failed anyway. I want you to pay close attention to how the story ends between Jesus and Peter from Luke chapter 22.
54 So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. 56 A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!” 57 But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!” 58 After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!” “No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted. 59 About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 62 And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.
Can we at least give Peter a little bit of credit here in verse 54? If you read this account in the book of Mark, he tells you the rest of the disciples are cowards and ran away like their hair was on fire. At least Peter had the courage to follow Jesus from a distance. Jesus has already said, “Peter, tonight you will deny that you even know me. Peter, you will deny your faith tonight.” Peter was so courageous that he’s also cocky. He thinks, “No way! That might happen to everybody else Jesus but that won’t happen to me.” It’s his very courage that sets him up to make this massive mistake and fail as bad as anybody in Scripture will fail God.
In Peter’s day, the single person with the least power in the courts was a woman and a servant had no place in society. So, a servant girl had no power over Peter whatsoever. Everyone in the crowd knew that and yet this servant girl with no power undermines Peter’s faith. He denies even knowing who Jesus is. It goes from bad to worse for Peter. Someone says, “I can hear in his accent that he comes from the same part of town that the rest of the disciples come from.” Now Peter’s life is on the line and Peter knows it. Since he’s scared, Peter turns his back on everything that he believes and he does the very thing that Jesus warned him would happen. He walks right into it and doesn’t see it. If it can happen to Peter, it can happen to me and it can happen to you.
The word Peter uses in verse 60 is anathema. He doesn’t just deny Jesus he denies the faith and said, “I don’t know that man. I don’t follow him. I don’t believe what he’s teaching.” You can only imagine what happened in the heart of Peter when that rooster crowed. I don’t think any of us can really grasp what happens next. I can’t imagine the look that Jesus shot Peter, the look that Peter saw on Jesus’s face, when for the third time he denied Jesus. I can’t imagine how let down Jesus was. I can’t imagine how hurt Jesus was but I do know this. He was so broken and hurt by what he just did to his Savior, that he ran away and wept greatly over his sin. The book of John tells us that this was so devastating to Peter that he literally threw his hands up and said, “Forget it! I’m not even worthy to be a disciple. I’m going back to fishing because I don’t even deserve to be considered a disciple of Jesus.” I’m convinced if it wasn’t for verse 62 the book of Acts would look very different for us. If it wasn’t for Peter’s ability to run away with a broken heart weeping over what he just did to Jesus, you wouldn’t have this great saint of God who stands up boldly in the book of Acts, preaches before crowds of thousands, and many lives are transformed. It’s Peter’s ability to lament, this ability to mourn and weep, over his sin that probably makes him the great man of God in the book of Acts but before you get there Jesus has to restore this man three times because of how severe this sin is.
If you’re thinking, “I’ve never done this. I’ve never denied Jesus. I’ve never done what Peter did to Jesus.” We’re going to do something very different for us around here. Part of what I want us to understand today is what it means to lament and quickly run back to Jesus when you’ve done something or when something’s happened in your heart that’s hurt your relationship with Jesus. It was Peter’s ability to recognize his sin and to run back to Jesus but more importantly to understand the consequences of that sin that God used to make this man a great warrior and a great minister of the Gospel in the book of Acts.
It was profound what happened last year here in our city on the campus of Columbus State University. Several churches got together for a conference called Converge 214. A professor by the name of Dr. Soong Chan Rah was speaking about lamentations. The word lamentation that Dr. Rah was describing was not the book of the Bible, though there’s an entire book of the Bible that tells us we should be people quick to lament. Dr. Rah was saying, “I think most of us have forgotten what it feels like to be broken over our sin. I think most of us have forgotten the pain that our sin caused Jesus. As a result, many of us don’t even know how to repent.” Then something amazing happened. Anybody that was in the room would tell you it was completely unscripted and nobody saw it coming. In my opinion, the Holy Spirit fell in that room and people started to pray. Many started to mourn out loud for their sin. Many started to lament for the sins that were happening around them. When that session was over with almost all of us walked out of the room, looked at each other and said, “Did you just experience the same thing that I just experienced?” That was completely unexpected.
I want us to understand something, church, about the Gospel. Most of us view the Gospel, the good news that Jesus saves sinners, to one sin (singular). This is the sin of unbelief. When we come to Jesus from the sin of unbelief we need the Gospel to clean us up, to turn us around, and to make us into a new man or a new woman. Many of us forget that the Gospel is also for the sins (plural) that you and I continue to commit. I’m talking about the sins that go on in our heart that nobody in the world sees but you and God. The sins of our hands, the action that happens when nobody else is looking but you know it’s wrong and God knows it’s wrong, those sins sentenced Jesus to the cross just like the sin of unbelief. Those sins cost the blood of Jesus. They caused him to go through the brutal death on the cross. You and I need the Gospel as much today as we needed it the moment that you came to him in faith. You and I should be quick to run back to Jesus and to say, “Jesus, I need you as much today as I needed you the moment I came to you for the first time.” One of the indications that you’re really a believer in the first place is that there is a sensitivity inside you. That sensitivity comes from the Holy Spirit. He’s reminding you what you’re doing is wrong and what you’re doing cost Jesus’s life on the cross. That sensitivity shows you that the Holy Spirit is at work inside of you. Sometimes I think our hearts gets so hard that we don’t even recognize the sin or the consequences for sin.
Today I’m going to ask us to lament. I realize this is between me and the Holy Spirit; this is between you and the Holy Spirit. I can’t manufacture this. I’m going to ask you to bow your heads and get serious with God about the stuff that’s going on in your heart that nobody else in the world gets the chance to see but Jesus knows it. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “You’ve heard it said in the Old Testament that you should not murder but I’m telling you if you have hatred in your heart for somebody else you are already guilty of murder.” That sin inside your heart is just as bad as the sin of your hands. That sin of your attitude is just as bad as the sins of your actions. They all need the blood of Jesus.
• I need to start a relationship with Jesus. Today, I surrender my soul to Jesus for the first time.
– It’s been a long time since I lamented my sin. Pray for the Holy Spirit to soften my heart again.
+ I’ve failed to speak up for Jesus when I had the chance. Pray that God makes me bold about my faith this week.
- Did you wage war inside your soul in prayer this past week? (If so, explain how it went.)
- Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? Does falling asleep suggest that your prayers aren’t sincere?
- Sometimes God’s plan for your life can be very difficult to bear. Is God allowing you to struggle with something right now that the group can be praying for you about?
- Has someone close to you ever turned their back on you? Why does the betrayal of a close friend hurt so bad?
- In all of your life, what is the moment you were most aware of the cost of your sin?
- When was the last time you wept over your sin?
- Spend a few minutes praying for each other.