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Where the Battle Is Fought

At the hour of crisis, our hope is in prayer
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Searching the Soul". See series.

Sermon Three

Here's a surprise: Most incompetent people don't know they are incompetent. In fact, researcher Dr. David A. Dunning of Cornell University reports that people who are incompetent are more confident of their abilities than competent people. Dunning and his associate Justin Krueger believe that skills required for competence are the same skills necessary to recognize that ability. Krueger writes in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, "Not only do [incompetent people] reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it."

You've probably run into someone like that at work, and you know how frustrating such people can be. But there is a parallel to that condition in the spiritual world.

Most of us as Christians do not recognize how incompetent we are and how vulnerable we are to profound spiritual failure. No story in Scripture ought to sensitize us more to that fact than the text before us today, Matthew 26:31-46, the story of Jesus' extraordinary and costly victory in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the extraordinary failure of his disciples in that same dark hour.

This text has those two parallel stories of Jesus and his disciples, but the story begins with Jesus' solemn warning in verses 31-35: "'This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.' Peter replied, 'Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.' 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.' But Peter declared, 'Even if I have to die ...

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Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Our vows of faithfulness to Christ are inadequate protection against faith's greatest tests.

II. Remaining faithful to Christ in faith's fierce tests requires wrenching prayer.

III. Jesus' victory in Gethsemane guarantees us his help in our darkest struggles.