““You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today – yes, tonight before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.”
We must note here the consideration of the Lord to our weakness. His disciples are facing up to a great testing. Judas has gone off to betray Jesus and each of the other disciples is facing up to the great pressure which has been brought to bear upon their hearts by the enemy of their souls. The Lord begins to speak to them about the events that they are facing. He speaks to them and to us with great honesty. There is no sense burying the truth about what they are wrestling with. So He speaks truth to them. We love the truth when it is spoken to someone else. It is hard to take when it is spoken to us. This is the gift that our Lord gives to His disciples. He quotes an Old Testament prophesy from Zechariah 13:7 to them. “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” This word from God was spoken about them He tells them. It is about to be fulfilled in their experience. In speaking this way Jesus exposes their great need. Peter speaking on behalf of all the disciples declares his denial. He will not fall away, and neither will any of the others. They are not weaklings like Judas turned out to be.
What Peter revealed here however was the weakness of his own nature. There are all manner of things which we think that we are capable of accomplishing for the Lord. Self-righteousness raises itself up as we face the threats of this life. It boasts about the great things it is about to accomplish. What it has failed to take into account is our real nature. This was Peter’s struggle. So the Lord tells him honestly about how he will fail, so that when it happens he will recognise that Jesus knew him in the depth of his weakness. Think about what mark is saying here. Make it personal. He knows you in the great depth of your weakness and failure. While you are revelling in your sin He is on the way to the cross to bear your sin. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While you were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) While Peter was denying His Lord Jesus was on His way to the cross for him. While you and I were living weak, rebellious, broken lives with all of the depth of sin that that entails Christ went to the cross for you and me.
Jesus honestly exposes the sin of His disciples. He does not leave them there however. He gently speaks to them about their restoration afterwards. “When I have risen.” The shepherd might be struck and killed, but that would not be the end of the story. There is a resurrection coming for Jesus, and for all who believe in Him. He tells them where He will meet them. This will be the place where they will be restored into fellowship with Jesus. The way to be restored however will take them through the cross. It is in that horrible place of suffering and death that they will finally see themselves as they really are. That is the place where they will be finally weak and honest enough to receive the gracious gift that God wants to give to them. This grace we receive has always been the Lord’s gift to us. We can never earn it. It is not by merit. The strong do not receive it as a reward. It can only come into our lives as a gift from the Spirit of God. What great love the Lord Jesus Christ gives to us.