Jesus told them ‘You will all fall away, 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.’
During the last supper Jesus made a statement that I’m sure all of the disciples found hard to believe. He told them they all would fail him; they would all fall away from him. All of the disciples were shocked, how could they fail him when they all loved him so much? They just couldn’t believe it would be possible. When Jesus said this, Peter took him aside and, in essence, agreed with him that the rest of the disciples would probably fail him, but not Peter! He said to the Lord:
‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’ ‘I tell you the truth’ 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 14:29-31
Peter was the disciple who loved Jesus. His boasting in how much he loved Jesus – and Jesus revealed to him that with that kind of foundation he would certainly fail him. Peter couldn’t understand it, and he certainly didn’t believe it. He really believed that he would never fail Jesus. He really believed that his love for Jesus was more than enough, that he would never, ever be unfaithful to him. He believed this, but when the time came, Peter, like every other disciple, did fail Jesus.
He ran away and was unfaithful to Jesus when Jesus needed him the most. What happened to Peter? He was so confident he would never fall away from his commitment to Jesus, yet just like all of the other disciples, he did fail him. Peter’s dependence on his love for Jesus, instead of Jesus’ love for him, actually caused him to fail Jesus in his time of need.
He not only abandoned Jesus. He went on to publicly deny him three times. You can imagine how this would have made him feel even more condemned and self-focused. He failed in his love and devotion to Jesus, and because of this he ran off and wept bitterly.
When Christ died on the cross Peter was not there because he was ashamed; he felt unworthy, and he felt like a total hypocrite and a failure to God. His focus was on how much he loved Jesus, how much he could do for him and how committed he was to him. Because this was Peter’s focus when he failed, he felt he was unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus again.
As Christians, we need to place our confidence in Christ’s love for us, and not our own willpower to continue to love Christ. Of course we do love Christ, but our boast is not in our love for him, but in his love for us. We are not disciples who live out of a boast that ‘I am the disciple who loves Jesus’, but rather, we live out of a revelation that ‘I am the disciple Jesus loves’.
The grace and power of God only starts to truly work in us when we give up trying to be the strong and perfect ones, and we allow Christ to be the strong and perfect one in us! Yes, we love him, but our boast and confidence is in his love for us because that is an unshakable foundation for our relationship with God.
This is an excerpt from my book: “Look! The Finished Work Of Jesus.”