Read Matthew 26:31-35
We are now in the last hours before Jesus’ Crucifixion. The men have finished their Passover celebration which included a foot washing, calling out a betrayer and communion. The men finished their dinner by singing a hymn and headed out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives.
As they reach their destination, Jesus tells the men, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me.” “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Jesus is telling all 11 men that each of them will in fact turn from Christ. They will not stand proudly and proclaim to be his follower; they will not confess they know Christ or that they are close to him like a brother. Every single one of them will keep their mouths shut to the truth when asked if they know Christ. When Jesus is handed over every single one of them will go AWOL. They “ghost” Jesus.
This is shocking news and Peter’s response is typical. If I were to say this to each of you, that you will turn from Christ, you’d probably have a similar answer to Peter’s. You’d deny that to be true. I can’t imagine every saying that I don’t know who Christ is. Of course, Peter couldn’t image that either. He said, “Even if everyone else turns away from you, I never will.”
Peter declared that even if it meant dying he would not disown Jesus, and each of the other 10 men followed suit. They each declared the same thing. They would not desert their Lord; they would never leave him alone or deny him. They were all foolish and naive. They were foolish because they didn’t understand the word of God. Jesus quotes a prophesy from Zec. 13:7 where it says, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
Jesus understood who the disciples were, what their weaknesses were and how they would handle any given situation. The problem wasn’t what Jesus said it; was the disciples lack of understanding. They were oblivious to the knowledge Christ had. Not only were they foolish, they were naive. Naive because they thought they were stronger than they really were. Jesus knew what Satan was going to bring to the men, the pressure he was going to put them under, and he knew they couldn’t handle it. The men however, thought they were stronger than Satan, they thought they could handle whatever he dished out for them. For the men to think this way was naive and for us to think this way would make us naive. The only way we can withstand the enemy is through Christ. The only way these men could withstand the enemy was with Christ. The second Jesus was out of the picture the men failed miserably. And the same could happen to us. That is why we need to maintain a deep connection with God.
Luke recorded more of the conversation. (Luke 22:31) Jesus tells Simon (Peter) that Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. We know that Satan is the accuser of men. He goes to the throne room of God and presents a case against us to the great Judge. We are always proud of ourselves when we realize we’ve proven the enemy wrong. We always want to focus on doing the right things. The truth is sometimes, probably more often than we realize, Satan accuses us and we end up proving him right. The enemy can accuse that you will do the wrong thing, God will be like, “well, let’s see what she does” and boom, you prove the devil was right about you. We don’t really like to think of us failing miserably when faced with accusations that ultimately are true.
We see here in Luke that that is exactly what happened to the disciples. Satan determined that these men will turn away from Jesus in his time of need. He accused the disciples, that when the pressure is on, they would not be the men they claimed to be. Satan wants permission to go ahead and take them out. He asked God if he could just go ahead and sift them out because they are not who they claim to be. What is Satan saying about you? Are you validating him or proving him wrong?
We like to call Satan “a Liar”, we claim that the devil is a liar, the truth is, sometimes he does tell the truth. Sometimes he makes an accusation about you and you prove him right. We don’t always prove him to be wrong, sometimes we prove his point and validate what he is saying about us. The hard truth is sometimes the enemy is telling the truth and we have NO ONE to blame but ourselves.
Jesus goes on, “But I have prayed for you.” Now that is comforting. “But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus didn’t change the prophesy, Peter will still fail miserably, but the answer to Satan was “NO”. No, you can’t sift him like wheat. Peter will fail and he will learn from that failure and once he’s learned his lesson he will be stronger than ever in his faith and he will go on to strengthen his brothers. The other disciples will learn from Peter and he will encourage them and help them to grow their own faith and the entire church as we now know it was formed.
Looking forward to Luke 22:33 Peter insists that he would willingly follow Jesus to prison, and he would willingly follow him to death. This is where the conversation goes from bad to worse. Not only will Peter turn from Jesus, he will ultimately deny knowing Jesus, not once, not twice but three times he will deny having anything to do with him.
Peter was given a deadline of when these three denials would take place, and it’s before the cock crows. This isn’t necessarily a specific rooster who begins to crow. Its more specific to a certain time frame, although the roosters will be crowing. This time frame would have been very early morning. At this time, it was getting very late in the night and Jesus was just hours away from being handed over. So, within the next few hours Peter would deny knowing his Lord on three separate occasions.
Within just a few hours Peter will forsake his Lord.
Despite these harsh realities, despite Jesus’ closest allies denying him, leaving him alone and deserting him during his time of need, he will still come back to them, he will return to see his friends. They will forsake Christ, but Christ will never forsake those who turn to him, those who turn back to him. Jesus waited for Peter to turn back to him, and when he did Jesus was there waiting for him. He tells them that he will meet them in Galilee and that is where he will restore them and that is what he did.
It’s always a good thing to search your heart, we never want to forsake our Savior, the truth is we do it in different ways. When we don’t openly worship, when we don’t speak his words to others, when we just don’t want to follow through and do what Jesus asks of us these are all ways of denying Christ. Searching your heart and allowing Holy Spirit to show you areas where you have denied Christ will allow you to repent, to get things straightened out. Christ is always waiting for you to return to him and he will meet you where your at.