And Jesus says to them, “All of you will fall away, because it stands written, I will smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. But after I have been raised I will go before you into Galilee.”
But Peter said to Him, “Even if all will fall away, certainly not I.”
And Jesus says to him, “Truly, I am saying to you, that, as for you, today, on this night, before a rooster crows twice, three times you will deny me.”
And Peter kept on saying with more vehemence and iteration, “If it should be necessary for me to die with you, I will positively not deny you.”
Moreover, in like manner also all kept on saying. [Mark 14:27-31 Wuest Translation]
‘all of you will desert me’— Jesus knows things and He knows our hearts. He tells them ahead of time in plain language that cannot be misconstrued, that they, every last one of them will abandon Him before the night is done. Jesus wants them to know that He knows them better than they know themselves; they will fail. But He is not rejecting them. Nor will he reject them later.
‘I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.’ In the following hours those words may have seemed far-fetched in the disciples minds. This morning as I thought through this whole passage, I was struck by the enormity of Jesus’ words. We often fail our LORD and can be very troubled by the failure. But there is reason for hope. There is reason for knowing that He is a God of mercy and inhuman patience. Here is reason to ask forgiveness, maybe for the thousandth time. He is waiting for us.
‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ Jesus is doing what He is doing based not on our actions or best intentions but on His Father’s purpose. Otherwise there would be not saving grace. We would have no mercy before a just God. The disciples will scatter because they are offended that their hopes are being destroyed. They will stumble. They will lose confidence. Those are the facts that Jesus is putting on the table for them and because His word is indisputable, they will become evidence to the truth about human condition. They are becoming offended at the manner with which Jesus is attempting to bring in His kingdom. Their offense in Him, as were the religious leaders, causes them to not acknowledge His authority. They did not want to be caught up in issues with the Roman government that could easily kill them for their association with Jesus.
I can be most certainly like Peter, at least for some period of time, defending myself against Jesus accusatory [my feeling after I sin] words. I regularly desert Jesus. The temptation becomes powerful, so powerful that it overwhelms my defenses that are at a low point anyway. But Jesus is not accusatory here; He is not reproaching them. He is telling them of better things to come. Yes, there is going to be an immediate time [within a few short hours] of indescribable betrayal, gloom and bitterness in their souls. But wait! Here is the good news! ‘I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.’ By week end, you will experience the hope of the resurrection. No matter how far we feel we have moved away from God, He is always ready and willing to meet us. Take those guilty feelings to the One who knows you best.