Though I Should Die With Thee

Matthew 26:33-35. “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.”

“Oh, no, Lord!  Not I!  I would  never  deny You or stumble in my walk with You!  Even if it means death for me, I will remain faithful!  I swear it! “

Did Peter mean it when he said those words?

Sure he did.  He had no idea that before the early morning came and the rooster crowed, he would have denied three times that he was a follower of Jesus.  The thing that is so amazing to me in this exchange between Peter and Jesus, and then the rest of the disciples, is the kindness that Jesus  showed. He did not excoriate them for what He knew they were going to do. He did not repudiate them or accuse them  He simply told them, in plain words, how they were going to behave.

And they all said, “NO!  No, Lord, no matter what the cost, we will stay true to You!”

And they all failed. One by one, they failed.

The beautiful thing is that He forgave them.  

Offense

Matthew 26:31. “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.”

The calm dignity of Jesus at this moment impresses me.  It was beginning, the horror of the crucifixion, and still Jesus was teaching, warning,  encouraging the men who surrounded him. The tension must have been thick among them as they made their way to the mount of Olives.

“You will ALL be offended tonight because of Me!”  What could He mean?  How would they be offended  because of the Teacher, the One they had followed so faithfully for three years?

The word offense means caused to stumble.  

Ah. They would not be hurt and angry in our sense of the word offended. They would, however, trip and stumble over the events about to take place.  Their faith would be shaken, their hopes destroyed. They would wonder if it had all been for nothing.

But, He said, don’t worry.  After I rise from death, I will go into Galilee ahead of you.

Everything will be all right.

The Sorrows of Israel

Matthew 24:9-10.“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.”

As anti-semitism continues to crawl out from under the rocks and become vocal and physical once again, I can’t help but think about what the Jews endured in Word War II. It was beyond belief. It was horrible. And contrary to what revisionist historians want us to believe, it was true. It really happened. Talk to anyone who has visited the camps. Look at the numbers stamped on the forearms of the survivors, who are fewer in number every day. It has been nearly 70 years, after all, since the war was over.

We thought it would never be that bad again, that the horror stories arising out of Nazi Germany would never, ever be repeated now that the world is so much more enlightened.

Think again. The Jewish people have always been Satan’s primary targets, because they are God’s chosen people.  Did he choose them because they were so much better than the rest of us?  Nope. None of us deserves the privilege of being the nation through whom Messiah would come. Why He chose them is His concern, and I don’t question it.

According to these verses, what the Jews suffered in the Holocaust will pale compared to their future sorrows.  They will be hated by ALL nations; even America will turn against them, and they will suffer for His Name’s sake with no one to come to their rescue. They will even betray one another. Evil will be King for a time.

The following passages are for your own research, and there are many others that should be noted in the margins of most Bibles:

Joel 2:1-17; Hosea 5:14; Jeremiah 30:4-9; Ezekiel 21:27; Daniel 12:1; Micah 7:1-7; Habbakuk 3:16.

And here is a quote from ancient tradition, by Rabbi Jochunan, taken from Gaebelein’s “Gospel of Matthew,” p. 180.

“Seven years of trouble come before Messiah comes. The first year before the Son of David comes the prophecy of Amos (chap. 4:7) will be fulfilled. In the second year of tribulation there will be six months of famine. In the third year there will be great famine. Many men, women and children will die and the pious will be few. The law and the prophets will be forgotten by Israel. The last years will bring signs in heaven and wars and at the end of the seventh year the Son of David will come.”

That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

They Were Offended

Matthew 13: 57-58. “And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and to his own house. And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

What a sad moment. There really isn’t much I have to say about this one; it doesn’t need to be parsed or exegeted.

The truth is, the people in Nazareth did not honor their own Prophet, and so He did not do many of His mighty, wonderful works in their neighborhood.

Their disbelief robbed them of the blessing.

America, America.  Our disbelief is robbing us of the blessing.

Stony Places

Matthew 13:20-21. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it: Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”

The stony ground represents the person who hears the Word, and seems to receive it joyfully. Older believers may become quite excited at this person’s early enthusiasm for the Word, but as time passes they are disappointed to see that the early joy does not last.  When trouble comes, and it always will, this person is seen to have no depth, no place for a root to take hold. The heat increases, and the quickly-springing plant withers under the blast.

No fruit. This person is offended; that is, he is easily caused to stumble off the path set by the Word, and he fails in his journey.

Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them.”

Go Tell John What’s Happening

Matthew 11:4-6. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.”

Poor John.  Imprisoned, alone much of the time; cut off from the amazing ministry of the One Whose way he prepared. He had sent two of his followers to ask Jesus for some reassurance.

Jesus’ response  was classic.  He simply numbered all the different things He had done that were signs of His power, and were fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. He was fulfilling Isaiah 35:5-6; the dead were raised, the good news of the Kingdom was preached.

At the end of the message, He blessed anyone who was not offended in Him. The word used in the Greek is skandalizo, and is obiously the root word of our scandalize. It meant to entrap, trip up, cause to stumble, or entice into sin or apostasy.  What a loving, gentle, kindly administered rebuke and encouragement that was to John. “Don’t despair; don’t be tempted into doubt; I am He.  Look at all the signs I’ve given you, confirming the Messianic power of the King.  I am He. I AM.”

Have you ever wondered what went through John’s heart and mind when he received this answer from Jesus?  Ever wonder  how it must have lifted his head and his spirits to get word from Messiah that all was as it should be?

My life verse is Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them.”

If I love God’s Word, not only will I have the inner peace everyone craves; I will also be safe from anything that would entice me, cause me to stumble, cause me to doubt my Redeemer.  I will not be scandalized!