SMITING THE SHEPHERD
Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 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. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. 33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
This is the last message our Lord gave to the disciples before his crucifixion. He had warned them that he was about to be silent to them in order to focus upon the defeat of “the prince of this world,” (Satan) and the manifestation of his love to the Father. John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
And this instruction to them was an expounding of a verse from the Prophet Zechariah’s writing. For he was still faithful in “fulfilling all righteousness,” as he instructed John the Baptist concerning his baptism. Here is the verse he quoted in the context of Zechariah’s writings: Zechariah 13:7 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. 8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
First of all we must understand that it was God the Father who instigated the smiting of his own Shepherd. There can be no doubt about that. Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Yet we read that the Lord God’s smiting was done by “wicked hands” who shall own their guilt and therefore be punished for it! Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 5:28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
Matthew 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! 8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
For God’s predetermined will does not exempt man from his responsibility and judgment for his sin. They did not have the Lord killed for the glory of God! They did not cry, “Crucify him!” to bring you your salvation! They did it in utter rebellion against receiving Jesus as being very God, their Messiah! Therefore we read that the “determinate counsel” of God was accomplished by their “wicked hands.” So the “sword” of which Zechariah speaks is ordained by God, but carried out by the rebellious hands of sinful men.
And the immediate result of the shepherd being smitten is the scattering of the sheep. But why would the Lord want this? Yet it is a direct result of smiting the shepherd. 1 Kings 22:17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: You simply have to read the replies of Peter to the Lord after this prophesy is brought forth to understand one of the reasons for it. For Peter disputes the Lord’s proclamation most emphatically. He proudly proclaims that he will “never be offended.” And also that he would die rather then deny! – Yet this is exactly what he did!
Peter needed, as do we all, to have his spiritual eyes enlightened to fully realize the deceitfulness of his own heart! Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Proverbs 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. This is why the gospel is so rare a thing in today’s world. For it reveals the true nature of the hearts of those who prefer the covering darkness of ignorance. John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Therefore Peter, like all the disciples, needed to lose the point of contact with one another, in order to have taken from them the false sense of security and self worth, that being in that fellowship provided! Therefore the Lord’s prayer for Peter was that he should not lose his God-given faith, but he did not pray for his sought-for carnal fellowship! Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Listen to the Lord faithfully instructing these disciples, and indeed, all of us concerning what we think we now know and the coming true understanding, after having been scattered. John 16:29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. 31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? 32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Repentance is not an option in those who truly come to Christ! “All have sinned.” Therefore all should repent! Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Repentance was the one grace granted to the Gentile believers which assured the Jewish believers of their inclusion into the kingdom of God. Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
For it was the one doctrine which both the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist first preached, as that which was required for entrance into the kingdom of God. Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
In physical and emotional trauma, group therapy is used as a means of healing today. But in the spiritual trauma of the sinfulness of the soul, it can be very devastating. 2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
For in so doing one can be made to excuse the huge beam in their own eye while focusing only upon the little mote in another’s eye. Matthew 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
We are wisely instructed not to look to other men in order to measure ourselves. But we are to look unto the Lord Jesus as our true example. For his is the only example which can truly encourage us in the deceits of the powers of darkness to our souls! Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
For the only image which the Father has predestinated all to be conformed unto is that of the Eternal Son! Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Peter had no sword as he warmed himself by the worldly fires of those who held his master in contempt. Mark 14:54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. His greatest hour concerning defending the faith began when he “went out!” For only then did he even begin to see himself as the Lord saw him. Luke 22:62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Let the Psalmist speak for his soul who finally goes out from the false assurances had in group approval. Let him speak for the one seeing himself before the Lord God. Listen as he says: Psalm 119:67 ¶ Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 71 ¶ It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. 75 ¶ I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
There is presently in heaven not one single unrepentant sinner; and there never shall be! Listen to them singing their new song of redemption: Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
All true believers have to bear the reproaches of Christ as they walk contrary to the world and its spirit. Hebrews 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. But especially do the truly God-called ministers of the gospel have to “approve” themselves in that calling by “dishonor” and “evil report.” 2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
For it should be well noted that in the Lord’s conversation to Ananias concerning his being sent to anoint Saul of Tarsus was the reason given for his task. Acts 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And so it is for every true believer. 2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
And all who resist this are more in line with Satan than with the Lord Jesus Christ! Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest (‘to mind’) not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
Pastor Gene Breed
February 19, 2021