“But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.”
““My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.””
“Then everyone deserted Him and fled. A young man wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.”
One of the themes which Mark develops as he presents to us the Gospel which he received from the Apostle Peter is the road to discipleship which was followed by the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Contained in this Gospel of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is the titanic spiritual struggle which was going on in the hearts and minds of the disciples. One would think that the disciples had it easy. They had front row seats to the greatest drama that ever took place in history. God had become flesh and dwelt among them. They witnessed all that He did. Imagine what they saw. What would your faith be like if you saw what they saw? However Mark presents them in all of their hard hearted unbelief. In this they are not unlike you and me. Each of us has to go through the same struggle which we see in them.
There is a reason for this. Real saving faith is always the result of a deep encounter with Christ crucified. What we see in the fourteenth chapter of Mark is the disciples being led along on the road to the cross of Christ. As He has repeatedly told them the Lord Jesus Christ is about to be crucified. On the third day He will be raised. All of this, every part of it down to the smallest detail will be in fulfillment of the Scripture. This in itself will require a whole new reading of the Word of God. What they had been taught would have to be put away so that they could understand the Word that God was really saying to them. As these disciples approached the cross of Christ all of the stresses contained in the situation they were facing were on the verge of overwhelming them. Jesus was not behaving as a true Messiah should, or so they thought. What did all this mean?
At the heart of the issues they were facing was the necessity of them bearing their own cross. Jesus was not the only one on the way to the cross. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) This is the issue. This is what we discover being lived out by the disciples as they arrive at the garden of Gethsemane. They have made great boasts about what they think they can do in their own flesh. The problem is that they have misunderstood themselves. They are not nearly as strong as they think they are. Within a few short hours they will all be fleeing. Peter will follow Jesus to His trial but then, instead of dying with Jesus he will deny Him. They will discover that they are weak and unbelieving human beings. When tried they would be found wanting.
If they are ever to follow Jesus they are going to have to go through this trial. These disciples must be crucified with Christ, dying to all of their fleshly, boasting and self reliance. The cross will lead to the resurrection. In fact it is the only way forward. That is true for the disciples. It is true for us as well. There really is no other way to be a disciple of Christ.