It is the night of his betrayal and arrest, and Jesus is with his eleven of his disciples. Judas has already left the group to go and do Satan’s bidding. Jesus is now walking with his men towards the Mount of Olives when he says:
You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee. (Matthew 26:31-32)
Notice this fact: The omniscient and perfect Teacher is telling his disciples that which will transpire. In addition, in doing so, he is quoting inspired Scripture which has foretold this fact for centuries. Scripture never fails. Jesus never fails. This falling away and scattering is indeed going to happen. There is no stopping that which Jesus predicts.
Notice Peter’s reply:
Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away … Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you! (Matthew 26:33-35)
One must be careful before attributing too much sin to Peter’s account. Sure, he is ignorant. Additionally, he is over-confident. He considers himself stronger than the eleven. However, notice his love and his allegiance. Peter is stating his willingness to pick up his cross and follow his Master, even to the death. If Peter is a fool, he is a noble fool.
Jesus responds to Peter:
Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. (Matthew 26:34)
Jesus knows Peter more than Peter knows Peter. He knows his faithful disciple will be faithless in a few hours. Three times, Peter will swear he is not a follower of Jesus. Three times, Peter will play the apostate who denies Christ before men. However, despite his horrific sin, Peter is beloved by his Savior and Friend, and Luke presents words not recorded by Matthew and Mark:
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:31-32)
Yes, Jesus knows Peter, more than Peter knows Peter, and Jesus loves him. His upcoming atoning death will cover Peter’s transgression. Nothing will ultimately separate the sheep from the Shepherd. Peter is loved with everlasting love, and Jesus will always finish with his elect that which he has started. Peter will fail, but Jesus has big plans for his impetuous and fickle disciple.
Friends, isn’t this good news! How many of us have been foolish and faithless?
- How many of us have thought we knew more than Jesus?
- How many of us have ignored that which Scripture teaches?
- How many of us have been over-confident?
- How many of us have thought we were stronger than our brothers?
- How many of us thought we would stand in the day of trial?
- How many of us have been found sleeping when we should be praying?
- How many of us have not done that which we promised to Jesus?
- How many of us have succumbed to temptation?
- How many of us have walked away and denied him?
- How many of us have been sifted like wheat by Satan and have dishonored our Lord?
And yet, Jesus sees it coming and he loves us. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and he marches on to Calvary to pay for all our transgressions. We are not saved by our works. We are not saved by our perseverance. We are not saved by our faith or faithfulness. No, we are only saved due to the undeserved, prevenient love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, brothers and sisters, get up off the ground, hate your sin, confess your transgressions, and enjoy experiential reconciliation with the risen Savior. Peter had to wait three days for this glorious exchange. We do not have to wait three minutes. He knows you. He sees your sin coming from a mile away. And He loves you. Repent, reconcile, minister for Christ, strengthen your brothers, share the Gospel with the lost, and humiliate the devil. Satan wants to have your soul, but Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.