1. How do we show loyalty to our favorite sports teams? (Attend games, wear our team’s apparel, watch religiously when the team plays on TV, etc.)
2. What causes some people to abandon their favorite team? (When the team falls on hard times and ceases to win. Sometimes when we are with a group of people who strongly support an opposing team.)
3. What causes us to change our loyalty to a product or a business? (Target’s support of “unisex” bathrooms.)
The change of heart concerning a product or business may well be merited, because businesses are certainly not perfect, and we as consumers may sometimes realize our loyalties have been misplaced. But loyalty to our Father is never misplaced, not is loyalty to His Son, Jesus!
Today we will learn of unwavering loyalty as we observe Jesus’ loyalty to our Father’s plan of salvation. Following Him is easy at times, but under some circumstances it is much more difficult. In today’s Scripture text, Peter is given the opportunity to exercise loyalty under difficult circumstances, but fails the test.
As Jesus finished His third period of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane Judas and the soldiers came to arrest Jesus and take Him to the High Priest. Judas identified which one was Jesus by kissing Him on the cheek. Then they took Jesus to be tried at Caiaphas’ house where the Sanhedrin was gathered. They began the mock trial to support the decision they had already made about crucifying Jesus. Two of the disciples, John and Peter, had followed at a distance to see what would happen to Jesus. They entered the courtyard and warmed themselves by a fire near the proceedings.
Jesus was being questioned by Caiaphas, the high priest who ruled the Sanhedrin, the council that reigned over the Jewish people.
Affirmed By Scripture! Read Matthew 26:62-64
Caiaphas understood the divine nature of the Messiah. To be the Anointed One was to be equal with God. He also knew that to be the Son of God was to be divine. To these leaders, there was no greater crime that the blasphemy of claiming to be the Messiah!
1. How did Jesus use Scripture to affirm His identity? (Jesus used Old Testament Scripture to confirm His identity in verse 64.
Read Ps. 110:1 and Daniel 7:13. “Son of Man” came from this passage, depicting a ruler who would come from heaven and rule over an eternal kingdom as opposed to an earthly kingdom, as many had expected.
Jesus affirmed that He was both Messiah and Son of God!
2. What was the significance of Jesus’ pointing to Scripture in response to questions addressed to Him? (Although, He knew they would not accept Him, He wanted them to know that He was the fulfillment of the Scriptures about the Messiah and that He was not ignorant of the Scriptures.)
3. How does Scripture continue to serve as the authority on Jesus’ identity? (It is the Word of God and a Witness by the Holy Spirit, Who inspired the writers of the Old Testament to write their prophecies. All are consistent with the unfolding events, even today!)
Denied By His Opponents! Read Matthew 26:65-68
1. How would you describe the religious leaders’ response to Jesus’ revelation that He was indeed the Messiah?
2. What did the tearing of one’s robe signify? (This was an expression of grief and an appropriate Jewish response to blasphemy.)
3. Why did the high priest claim blasphemy?
These brutal men were religious leaders who believed in God. They should have worshiped and submitted to Jesus; instead they insulted and brutally assaulted Him.
4. In what ways did the religious leaders misunderstand Jesus? (Their concept of the Messiah was a military leader who would establish an earthly kingdom. Jesus didn’t fit their concept.)
5. What kinds of misconceptions do people today have about Jesus? (Some people acknowledge that Jesus was a prophet or teacher, but they fail to recognize Him as the living Son of God. Others ignore Jesus, as if He were just some character in a fairy tale. Many fail to acknowledge Him as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, much less their personal Savior.)
6. Have the misconceptions about who Jesus is changed over the centuries?
7. How does knowing the persecution Jesus faced help us as we face challenges to our faith today? (Verse 67 says the people “spit in His face and beat Him.” After blindfolding Jesus (Mark 14:65), they taunted Him, calling for Him to name who was hitting Him. If we receive any mistreatment because of our faith today, we can draw strength from knowing that Jesus stood firm in the face of even greater persecution.)
Now the focus of the scene changes to Peter.
Abandoned By His Friends! Read Matthew 26:69-75
1. What evidence did the people nearby give for identifying Peter as a disciple of Jesus? (Their accusations indicated they had seen Peter with Jesus and his manner of speech indicated he was from Galilee. This is just like we can identify someone from the northeast United States as opposed to someone from the deep south.)
2. How did Peter’s denial intensify each time He was singled out as being a disciple of Jesus? (The first time he simply said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The second time he denied it with an oath, “I don’t know the man.” The third time Peter started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know the man!” Peter stepped a little further away each time He denied knowing Jesus.)
We all respond perhaps a little differently but fear can have a tremendous effect on us.
3. How far did Peter go in denying Jesus? (Just as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied Him three times. He denied even knowing Jesus, much less being one of His disciples.)
4. What was Peter’s reaction when he realized the full measure of his denial? (Luke 22:61 tells us that at the very moment Peter denied Jesus the third time and the rooster crowed Jesus looked at Peter. Peter then went out and “wept bitterly”.)
It’s good to recall Peter’s comeback following the resurrection, when Jesus restored Peter—John 21. God gives second chances!
5. What pressures could cause a person to hide his or her Christian faith today?
6. How might we deny Jesus today? Through Words? Attitudes? Actions? (Sometimes we deny Jesus through the words we say or in the moments when we should speak up but remain silent. We deny Jesus when we place other things above our relationship with Him.)
Imagine the grief Peter must have felt when he realized the tragedy of his poor choice! Yet this was not the end to Peter’s story. Jesus didn’t turn His back on Peter or give up on him. Instead, He restored Peter (see John 21:15-19). As a result, Peter devoted the rest of his life to Christ!
Summarize and Challenge!
Jesus could have called 12 legions of angels and the Father would have sent them according to Matthew 26:53! But He chose to surrender to the Father‘s will and suffer as no man has ever done.
What are some potential costs of remaining loyal to Jesus today?
· Being a loyal follower of Jesus may mean experiencing ridicule or hardships.
· We may find that family and friends misunderstand us and our allegiance to Jesus.
· In some parts of the world, faith in Jesus could lead to physical persecution or even death.
In the coming week, reflect on Jesus’ position as Messiah and King. Ask yourself if you have given Him rightful priority in your life. Are you prepared to defend your faith when others question it?
Commit yourself again to loyal, obedient living as a follower of Christ!