Harmony of the Gospels

Tom Lowe

Date: Thursday of Jesus’ Final Week
Location: Upper Room (Jerusalem)

Title: Jesus Warns About Further Defections

Fulfilled Prophesy: Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.  (Zechariah 13:7)


Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man  [1]glorified, and God is glorified in him. (John 13:31)

This verse is taken from Zechariah 13:7.

As soon as Judas left, Jesus began to speak with the disciples more freely and intimately. The tension was gone, which Satan and Judas had produced.  Also the long tension building up toward His death [2]( Luke 12:50) would soon be over. 

He said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.” The Lord was anticipating the work of redemption which He was about to accomplish. His death might have seemed like defeat, yet it was the means by which lost sinners could be saved. It was followed by His resurrection and ascension, and He was greatly honored in it all. And God is glorified in the work of the Savior. It proclaimed Him to be a holy God who could not pass over sin, but also a loving God who did not desire the death of the sinner; it proclaimed how He could be a just God, and still is able to justify sinners. Every attribute of deity was supremely magnified at Calvary.

It is noteworthy that the Lord Jesus Christ never referred to His death as punishment, disgrace, or humiliation; instead, he speaks of it as the one event that would most glorify both Himself and God the Father.  When we look at Calvary through human eyes it is extremely ugly, but as believers, we can know its Glory: “God forbid that I should Glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).

If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall  [3]straightway glorify him. (John 13:32)

“If God be glorified in him,” and He is, “God will also glorify Him in Himself.” God will see that appropriate honor is given to His beloved Son. “And shall straightway glorify him,” without delay. God the Father fulfilled this prediction of the Lord Jesus by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His own right hand in heaven. God would not wait until the kingdom was ushered in. He would glorify His Son immediately.

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. (John 13:33)

For the first time the Lord Jesus addressed His disciples as little children—a term of endearment. And He used it only after Judas had departed. He was only to be with them a little while longer. Then He would die on the cross. They would seek Him then, but would not be able to follow Him, for He would return to heaven. The Lord had told the same thing to the Jews, but He meant it in a different sense. For the disciples, His departure would only be temporary. He would come again for them (chap. 14). But for the Jews, His leaving them would be final. He was returning to heaven, and they could not follow Him because of their unbelief.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)

During His absence, they were to be governed by the commandment of love. This commandment was not new at all, because the Ten Commandments taught love for God [5]( Deuteronomy 6:5) and  [6]Leviticus 19:18 taught love for one’s neighbor. But this commandment was new in other ways. It was new because the Holy Spirit would empower believers to obey it. It was new in that it was superior to the old. The old said, “Love your neighbor,” but the new said, “Love your enemies.”

It has been well said that the law of love for others is now explained with new clarity, enforced by new motives and obligations, illustrated by a new example, and obeyed in a new way.

Also it was new, as explained in the verse, because it called for a higher degree of love: “As I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Christ commands them to love, as I have loved you. The love Christians should display for each other must be a sacrificial love similar to the Lord’s love.  In John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”-but Jesus laid down His life for His enemies.

The distinguishing mark of true disciples is their love for one another [7]( 1 John 2:7–11), and it is the kind of love that the world can see. He commands us to love, and He gives us the power to obey [8]( Rom. 5:5).  Christian’s love and sup port for one another enables them to survive in a hostile world.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35)

 The badge of Christian discipleship is not a cross worn around the neck or on the lapel, or some distinctive type of clothing. Anyone could profess discipleship by these means. The true mark of a Christian is love for his fellow Christians. This requires divine power, and this power is only given to those indwelt by the Spirit.

Grasp the meaning of this verse. In a day of church splits and discord, the words of Christ have deep, significant meaning. The world should recognize us as followers of Christ because our relationship to each other is infused with love.

Do you realize that the most important commandment for a Christian is not to witness, not to serve, but to love other believers?

Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. (John 13:36)

Jesus’ work was nearly finished, theirs was just beginning [9]( Mark 16: 15). 

Peter is still a little confused; he did not understand that Jesus was talking about His death. He thought He was going on some earthly journey and did not understand why he could not go along.  Only Jesus, as the sinless sacrifice for the trespasses of the world, could go to the cross and die [10]( 1 Peter 2:22-24).  Also, only He could be glorified in the presence of the Father with the Glory that He had before the incarnation [11]( John 12: 41).  The Lord explained to Peter that he would follow Him later, that is, when he died, but he could not do so now. Peter’s time of death had not yet come [12]( Hebrews 9:27). Notice that Christ predicted the exact opposite of Peter’s claims. Peter said he would die for Jesus, but Christ died for Peter and mankind. Peter would deny his Master.

37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. (John 13:37)

With his typical devotion and enthusiasm, Peter expressed willingness to die for the Lord. He thought he could endure martyrdom by his own strength. Later he actually did die for the Lord, but it was because he had been given special strength and courage by God.

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will  [13]smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. (Matthew 26:31)
But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. (Matthew 26:32)
And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. (Mark 14:27)
But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. (Mark 14:28)

Throughout His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus had faithfully warned His disciples concerning the pathway ahead. Now He told them that they would all distance themselves from Him that night. Fear would overwhelm them when they saw the fury of the storm breaking. They would all be ashamed and afraid to be known as His followers in the hours ahead. To save their own skins, they would forsake their Master. Zechariah’s prophecy would be fulfilled: “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (13:7).
But He did not leave them without hope. Though they would be ashamed of their association with Him, He would never forsake them. After rising from the dead, He would meet them in Galilee. He was a wonderful, never-failing Friend!

“Go before you,” means to lead you forth, going at your head, as an eastern shepherd leads his sheep. This does not mean that the Lord would go first to Galilee in the sense that the disciples must go there to find Him, but that He would appear to them at Jerusalem and lead them to Galilee.

Just like the Lord’s warnings to His disciples, He says to us, today: Heed His warnings; He knows what is coming.

Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. (Matthew 26:33)
But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. (Mark 14:29)

Impulsively Peter interrupted the Lord to respond to His prediction in a forceful manner. Instead of defending himself, he should have obeyed the Lord’s added command, “Watch ye and pray,” in connection with [17]I Corinthians 10:13. Overconfidence often precedes failure.

There are commentators who believe that this discussion between Jesus and Peter must have taken place after the group had left the upper room.  They base this conclusion on Matthew 26:30-33 and on John 13:31-38.  Others, however, hold that it is entirely possible that the Master started to warn Peter even while the group was still in the upper room, and that the discussion between that disciple and Jesus was continued afterward. 

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: (Luke 22:31)
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art  [14]converted, strengthen thy brethren. (Luke 22:32)
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. (Luke 22:33)

Now comes the last in a series of three dark chapters in the history of human faithlessness. The first was the treachery of Judas. The second was the selfish ambition of the disciples. Now we have the cowardice of Peter.
Satan already controlled Judas, but he had to ask for permission to “ [15]sift” the disciples and to tempt Peter [16]( Job 1:12; 2:6). Satan is not all-powerful and must obey the limits set by the Lord [17]( 1 Cor. 10:13). The apostles had experienced some great blessings that evening, but danger was very near.  What Jesus is saying, then, is this: the disciples will be subjected to a severe trial.  That trial is going to happen this very night, and probably often afterward in their lives.  But the emphasis is upon the events of this night.  Be on your guard when you have had a rich spiritual experience, for Satan is about to attack. And especially beware when you are trying to decide who is the greatest!

The repetition “Simon, Simon,” speaks of the love and tenderness of the heart of Christ for His vacillating disciple. Satan had asked to have all the disciples that he might sift them as wheat. Jesus addressed Peter as representative of all of them. But the Lord had prayed for Simon that his faith might not become obscured by the actions of Satan. (“I have prayed for you” are tremendous words.) We can be optimistic to know that Christ also prays for us as He did for Peter. He knows what we experience [18]( Heb 4:15), and He makes intercession for us [19]( Heb 7:25).

But I have prayed for thee.  In John 17:9 our Lord prayed to the Father, “I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” The Lord does not pray for the world.  He died for the world, and you cannot ask Him to do any more than that.  He died for the world, but he prays for His while they are in the world.  The Lord Jesus Christ prayed for you today.  It may be that you did not pray for yourself but He has prayed for you.

After Peter returned to Him, Jesus said that he should strengthen his brethren. This turning back does not refer to salvation but rather to restoration from backsliding

Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (John 13:38)
Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. (Matthew 26:34)
And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night,  [20]before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. (Mark 14:30)
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. (Luke 22:34)

Peter was indignant at the thought of denying the Lord. The others might, but he?—Never! Jesus corrected that “Never!” to “this night.” Before the rooster crowed, Peter would have disowned the Savior three times. It is something Peter did not know, and did not think would ever happen. It was meant as a reminder to Peter of his weakness, cowardice, and inability to follow the Lord for even a few hours by his own power.

In Mark 14:30, the Lord is quoted as saying that before the rooster crows twice, Peter would deny Him three times. In Matthew 26:34; Luke 22:34; John 13:38, the Lord said that before the rooster crows, Peter would deny Him three times. It is admittedly difficult to reconcile this seeming contradiction. It is possible that there was more than one cock-crowing, one during the night and another at dawn. Also it should be noticed that the Gospels record at least six different denials by Peter. He denied Christ before:
1. A young woman (Matt. 26:69, 70; Mark 14:66–68).
2. Another young woman (Matt. 26:71, 72).
3. The crowd that stood by (Matt. 26:73, 74; Mark 14:70, 71).
4. A man (Luke 22:58).
5. Another man (Luke 22:59, 60).
6. A servant of the high priest (John 18:26, 27). This man is probably different from the others because of what he said—“Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 

Jesus knew Peter would deny Him; He knew Peter would play the coward and forsake him.  But in spite of His foreknowledge, Jesus did not reject Peter, He did not denounce him and cast him out; and after Peter’s fall, after he had cursed and sworn that he had not even known the Lord, Jesus looked at him with compassion enough to melt Peter’s heart and cause him to shed tears of bitter repentance--and then the sinless Son of God forgave him!

Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. (Matthew 26:35)
But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all. (Mark 14:31)

“It’s preposterous,” shouted Peter, “I’ll die before I deny You!” Peter wasn’t the only one to make that noisy boast. They all engaged in brash, self-confident assertions. They were sincere; they meant what they said. It was just that they didn’t know their own hearts.  Let us never forget that, for we are no different. We must all learn the cowardice and weakness of our hearts.

Another translation for “Though I should,” might be “Even if I must.” Peter’s boast later sets the stage for his bitter denials of his Master. He promised to be more faithful than the others, that's what may have later provoked Jesus’ question, “Lovest thou me more than these?” (Probably referring to the other disciples; John 21:15).

And he said unto them, When I sent you without  [21]purse, and  [22]scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. (Luke 26:35)
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (Luke 26:36)
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was  [23]reckoned among the  [24]transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. (Luke 22:37)
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. (Luke 22:38)

Jesus had been providing for them.  From now on they must provide for themselves.  Of course, that is not true in an absolute sense.  The disciples had not been entirely passive until now, and from now on Jesus, from his position on the Fathers, right hand in heaven, would certainly still bless and keep them.  But in a relative sense it is definitely true, for in just a little while Jesus will be taken away from these men and they will no longer be able to walk by his side, asking him questions and listening to his answers.  Also, once Jesus has been crucified, the wrath of the opponents will be directed against Christ’s disciples.  It is they who will then be persecuted.

From now on these men will have to take the initiative.  They will need to cultivate courage to a degree not expected of them before.  Making provision for missionary travels, such as taking along a purse and a traveling bag, will now be necessary.

The term sword must be interpreted figuratively.  The meaning is that in the circumstances that are about to arise The Eleven will need all the courage they can muster.

Christ was very much aware of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. Yet in no way did He contrive to fulfill these. He had nothing to do with Judas’ wicked act of betrayal [25]( Ps 41:9), nor the offering of vinegar to drink (Ps 69:21; Jn 19:28–30), nor the manner in which the soldiers at the cross parted His garments (Ps 22:18; Jn 19:23–24). The matchless providence of God ruled and overruled in the affairs of men. We may also rest assured that nothing happens to us without God’s knowledge and permission, and God works out His own unique will in each of our lives.

How tragic that, once again, the disciples do not understand the meaning of Christ’s words.  Besides, they are still thinking of the immediate preceding passage “And let him who has no sword sell his coat and buy one." So, here they say “Lord, look, here are two swords!” As if Jesus had been talking about the necessity of having and using literal swords!

It is noteworthy that Peter’s love for and loyalty to Jesus was sincere.  He wanted to follow the Lord where ever He was going.  When he said, “I will lay down my life for thy sake,” he meant every word of it.  He attempted to fight for his Lord, and he cut off the servant’s ear. (The reason he got his ear was because he was a fisherman and not a swordsman.  He was aiming for his head.) When the Lord told Peter he would deny Him three times before the cock would crow, it was already dark, and he just couldn’t believe he would deny his Lord before the dawn.

What a lesson there is here for us.  Peter was overconfident in himself.  We should learn from this; that we should have no confidence in the flesh.  Paul says, “…  When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).  Do you recognize your weakness or do you think you are strong?  Someone asked Dwight L. Moody, “Do you have grace enough to die for Jesus?” He answered, “He hasn’t asked me to do that.  But if he asks me to, I know he will give me the grace to do it.” That is the answer.  Our own flesh is weak, but God will supply our every need.

____________________Notes and Scripture references__________________

[1](Glorified)— To have magnified God through praising His name and honoring His commandments (Ps. 86:12). Jesus also glorified His father through His perfect obedience and His sacrificial death on our behalf (John 17:1).
1. to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate
2. to honor, do honor to, hold in honor
3. to make glorious, adorn with luster, clothe with splendor
4. to impart glory to something, render it excellent
5. to make renowned, render illustrious
6. to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged

[2](Luke 12:50) But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Straitened her means pressed in spirit with desire

[3](straightway) immediately, forthwith

[4]Little Children—this term of endearment, is found nowhere else in the Gospels.

[5]Deuteronomy6:5) And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

[6](Leviticus 19:18) Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. 

[7](1 John 2:7-11) 7Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. 

[8](Romans 5:5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

[9](Mark 16:15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

[10](1 Peter 2:22-24) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 

[11](John 12:41) These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

[12](Hebrews 9:27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

[13(smite)  “to strike,” giving a blow with the hand, or fist or a weapon,

[14](converted) In this case it means “restored to fellowship with Christ,” which would happen when He appeared to the disciples when they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee.

[15](sift) cause their faith to waiver.  The Lord used this word “sift” because his listeners would have been familiar with its meaning.  Sifting refers to the repeated, swift, and violent shaking of the wheat in a sieve.

[16](Job 1:12; 2:6) And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD… And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. 

[17](1 Corinthians 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 

[18](Hebrews 4:15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

[19](Hebrews 7:25) Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

[20]The time, before the cock crow twice, refers to the third watch of the night.

[21](purse) a money-box.

[22](script) “a traveler’s leather bag or pouch for holding provisions,” is translated “wallet” in the RV

[23](reckoned) primarily, “to be of opinion, think, suppose,” also signifies “to seem, be accounted, reputed,”

[24](transgressors) lawless, i.e., not subject to (the Jewish) law; wicked:— without law, lawless, transgressor, unlawful, wicked.

[25](Psalm 41:9) Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

Do you have any questions or comments?

 “For most of us, God is little more than the 911 number of our lives.” —Joseph Stowell

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