“‘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.’ ‘Truly I tell you,’ 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.”—Mark 14:27–31 (NIV)
Talk about a dramatic shift! After performing the Passover Seder and explaining how His body would be broken and blood would be poured out for the sins of the world, singing hymns, and taking a nice after dinner walk to the Mount of Olives toward the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus drops this bomb on them: “You will all fall away.” One commentary said, “It was a startling announcement in broad general terms that the disciple-circle was about to experience a moral breakdown.”
Can you imagine being told that in a few short hours, you were going to abandon the One they called teacher, master, and Lord . . . the One who had chosen you out of everyone in the world to be in His inner circle for the last three years, who had proven time and time again to be the Son of God, and had just washed your feet, offered you wisdom and comfort, and promised to send a Helper after He was gone? And even after being warned about it, still doing it?
But Peter wouldn’t accept this. He said, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Pulpit Commentary explained that the Greek tense in Peter’s words “implies that he kept asserting over and over again. He was, no doubt, sincere in all this, but he had yet to learn his own weakness . . . Peter was so carried away by the fervor of his zeal and love for Christ, that he regarded neither the weakness of his own flesh nor the truth of his Master's word." Of course, we know Peter did go on to abandon Jesus—as did the others, though John came back and went with Mary and Mary Magdalene to the cross—and deny Him three times.
Now, it’s easy to look at this passage with critical eyes and say, “How could they have done this? I would never have done what they did.” But if we do that, then we would be doing exactly what they did! You see, we all have the capacity to be consumed by fear, doubt, grief, or temptation. So, instead of thinking we would never, let’s learn from the mistakes these men made—men who, by the way, were restored and went on to be used by God to turn the world upside down and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Instead we should 1) grieve, mourn, and weep over our continued sinful nature (Matthew 5:4; James 4:9), humble ourselves before the Lord (James 4:10), and ask Him to help us in our weakness (Mark 9:23; Romans 8:26–27; 2 Corinthians 12:9–10). Remember, the Lord promises to lift up those who approach Him in humility, with a humble and contrite spirit.
Pause: What’s the great lesson we can learn from this passage?
Practice: Consider where you are spiritually right now. Are you soberly guarding your heart and faith through devotion and spiritual formation? Are you walking humbly and consistently seeking the help, direction, and power of the Holy Spirit? If not, I strongly encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to break down any walls of pride and self-sufficiency, lest you fall into a serious crisis of faith.
Pray: Jesus, thank You that despite knowing how sinful I am and how prone I am to wander, get lost, and fall, You still love me, died for me, and have promised to never leave me. Help me to never be blinded by self-righteousness, pride, knowledge, or any other form of self-deception and to daily find my strength, peace, security, understanding, and identity in You! Amen.