Jesus and His disciples have finished eating. It’s time to take a walk. Before setting out they close their Passover ceremony with a hymn. Their walk takes them to the Mount of Olives.
We witnessed this scene in Matthew’s gospel too. You can check out that blog post: Jesus Tells Peter His Future. We put ourselves into the story in that telling. Today we are challenged to find more pearls than the surface ones we came away with already. Today I want to look at Peter.
Jesus tells His disciples that ALL of them would fall away that night. He initially didn’t put a time line on the disciples’ behavior. He simply said it would happen. Maybe He was expecting them to do the math after His earlier statement about dying in two days. This night was right on schedule with Jesus’ words. I’m wondering if the disciples were counting and keeping track. Were they on edge, expecting something to happen at any moment?
Peter’s comment strikes me funny tonight. Funny strange, not funny ha-ha. Jesus just told them that they would all fall away, yet Peter thinks he will be exempt from this act. Why was that? Did he think his closeness to Jesus would protect him from succumbing to this mass exodus? Jesus did take him on a lot of missions where the majority of the disciples were left behind. Did he think he was stronger than the others? He had been a fisherman all his life so he was no doubt very strong and muscular. Did he see himself as the leader of the group and the one who set the standards? Others looked at him as the leader of the disciples. What made him SO sure?
I believe it was Peter’s pride that prompted his statement. He was self-assured and counting on his own strength to help him stand against this trial. He could have asked Jesus to help him stand firm, but he didn’t. He didn’t even consider that Jesus’ words could be true. He flat out dismissed them. “He must not know me very well if He really thinks that.”
When Jesus told Peter exactly how many times he would deny Him and what the time frame would be, I believe Peter got mad. I identify with the stubbornness that is evident in Peter that night. I too have stood toe to toe with challenges. Nothing made me more determined to do something than someone telling me I couldn’t. You can ask my mom on that one! I don’t know how many times I fought through something that would have been much WISER to walk away from or ask for help with; just because someone said I couldn’t do it. And in my case, it was all about pride. That’s why I see that same thing in Peter.
Peter was fighting a losing battle in this one. First of all, GOD stated that the “sheep” would all scatter. When God says it, you can take it to the bank. Jesus shared the prophecy from the Old Testament. If ANYONE knew the scriptures it was Jesus. He also knew how they applied to His life.
Second, Satin asked permission to try Peter on this point. Being Peter didn’t seek help from the One who had power over Satin, he was doomed to failure. It is through Jesus’ name and power that we have victory over Satin; NOT our own power.
Finally, Peter’s falling away was part of God’s plan. God’s plans ALWAYS come to fruition. I will give Peter points for trying to defend Jesus with the sword when they came to arrest Him, but even then Peter was made to stand down. After that point, Peter didn’t know what to do. But that is for another story.
Back to our original scene. After Peter made such a strong statement, the rest of Jesus’ disciples did the same. Did they do it for the same reasons that they were arguing about “who is the greatest”; their sense of competition? Were they committing themselves as a group to Jesus? Or were they simply parroting Peter’s words in an effort to offer comfort to Jesus?
After Jesus spelled out Peter’s future issues He dropped the subject. He didn’t challenge their adamant denial, nor did He call them liars. He went on about His business during the rest of the night, knowing in His heart the truth. Peter didn’t challenge Jesus any further on the issue. Did he believe he had convinced Jesus of his loyalty? Was he on guard now, waiting for the time to come?
Lord Jesus, I walk in Peter’s shoes too often. So sure of myself and my abilities that I don’t bother to ask You for help. I should know better than to do this by now. I wonder if that is why I had to fall so far before. I still try to be strong and do everything, but I have learned to ask for help too. Maybe this is falling on the rock and being broken. Peter fell hard that night, but that fall was necessary. He was broken by his failure, but at least he wasn’t crushed like Judas was. I wonder what the difference was. Did Peter realize that his biggest failure was not asking You for help? When Peter failed did he remember Your words about rising again and hope to make amends with You then? Did he turn to the Father for forgiveness? Did he turn to his fellow disciples for support and encouragement? They all had failed this same test.
I know where I have to go when I fail. I need to go straight to You. Nothing else will restore me. Help me remember beforehand to bring my problems to You. And remind me when I fail that You are still faithful and truly want to restore our relationship. All I need to do is ask.