Summary: The devil worked through believers to see Jesus betrayed and crucified. He is working today to discredit God's shepherds. When conflict arises, people all too often deny their leader; and this is the point at which he is led away to be crucified!
In Job 2:7, we read, “So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” I think most of us realize that Satan can attack people physically by robbing them of their health; however, the surprising revelation is how he can also work through believers in Christ to undermine God’s purposes or even attack fellow believers. For example, when Jesus explained that He would have to die on the cross, Peter spoke up and said, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22); and Jesus turned and looked at Peter, and proclaimed, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).
The Lord has been bringing a verse to mind: “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13:7). The Lord has reminded me of this verse over and over again; so much so, that I had to look it up and see what the Bible has to say. What I discovered are some insights into how the devil worked through believers to see Jesus betrayed and crucified; and how Satan is working even today to undermine the leadership of churches, in order to see the Lord’s shepherds discredited and their ministry made fruitless. The devil loves to see pastors crucified and churches disbanded; and in this message I am going to show you how this happens. And I must point out how this is an appropriate time of the year to look at this passage, being that it ties into Easter.
Satan Wants to Scatter the Sheep (vv. 27-31)
27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” 31 But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.
Jesus declared, “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (v. 27). This statement is derived from Zechariah chapter 13, verse 7. Zechariah prophesied of a time when a mother and father would kill their own child for preaching the truth, and of a time when pastors would deny their calling and quit the ministry for fear of being persecuted (Zechariah 13:3-6). This was the state of the world in which Jesus found Himself; and it’s the state of the world in which we live today.
Paul warned young Timothy of the last days, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). When Jesus quoted Zechariah, He spoke of a time when people would not endure sound doctrine; and a time when people would believe that they knew better than God and His chosen spiritual leaders. It is under such conditions that Jesus would be betrayed; and it’s under these same conditions that shepherds are betrayed today.
Peter and all the other disciples adamantly declared how they would never deny Jesus. This is probably how they really felt inside, and this is how a lot of people feel about their spiritual leaders today; but if we let our guard down, we can easily be deceived into denying both Christ and His chosen leaders.
Deception comes from no other place than the devil. In John 8:44, Jesus said of the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
When the devil is working his deceptive and divisive schemes, he wants us to get caught up in blaming other people, but we must not forget that it’s a spiritual war. Paul said, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). Remember, it’s Satan who works to strike the shepherd; and his ultimate goal is to scatter the sheep.