It is Wednesday of Passion Week and Jesus and His disciples have just celebrated the Passover a day earlier than would the religious leaders. God in His providence had orchestrated this by the ambiguous sighting of the new moon during that particular month in history, in order that Jesus might both assign a new and fuller meaning to the Passover by instituting the Lord’s Supper, and also die as the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world at the very time the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. Now, on their way to the Mount of Olives after the feast, Jesus has warned that they will all fall away, and be scattered as sheep when their Shepherd is struck down. And although they clearly didn’t understand what was about to take place, He also made prearrangements to meet them in Galilee after His resurrection (Mat 26:32, 28:16) He also spoke of how Satan had demanded permission to sift the disciples like wheat, which God in His providence also allows in order to separate the wholesome grain with which He seeks to fill His barn from the chaff of the world and its lusts that are passing away. We needn’t fear such trials, knowing from the encouragement of James, the brother of Jesus, that such testing of our faith produces patient endurance that yields a perfect work. And as Peter’s example illustrates, Jesus Himself intercedes for us that our faith may not fail, so that such trials will make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing, in order that we might because of our own weakness become vessels who are able to deal gently with the ignorant and misguided and strengthen our brothers.
Oblivious to what was about to happen and Jesus’ words about being raised and going before them into Galilee that might otherwise have been an encouragement, what did Peter say in regard to Jesus’ assertion that they would all fall away that night? See Mat 26:33,35, Luk 22:33. What truth would Jesus communicate to the disciples shortly later that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane that perfectly describes Peter’s bravado and supposed ability to stand with Him, but his actual inability to follow through? See Mat 26:41b. To whom specifically were those words spoken? See Mat 26:40. Although our flesh is also weak, can we say that we are even like Peter in having a willing spirit? I.e., is it the earnest desire of our spirit, although susceptible to the weakness of our flesh, to follow Him unto imprisonment and even death? From Jesus’ words in Mat 26:41a, what is it that enables one to overcome the temptations to our weak flesh to fulfill the earnest desire of our spirit? In what way did Peter and the other disciples fail in this regard in the garden of Gethsemane? See Mat 26:40,45. Instead of sleeping, what should they have been doing for which Jesus upbraided them? See again Mat 26:41a. Although God gives His people rest, do we realize that there are times when we need to be watching and praying and not resting? If our spirit is willing as Peter’s was, are we also willing to suffer hardship with Christ as good soldiers of the cross and keep watch with Him through prayer so as to strengthen our flesh to be able to stand, rather than just giving in to or indulging the desires of our flesh? Cf. 2Ti 2:3-4. Although Peter and the other disciples were blissfully ignorant of what was about to happen in just a few hours, even in spite of the Lord’s warning, what does their example remind us about how quickly a storm can arise, and our need to prepare for sudden, unexpected trials with a daily devotion to prayer? Cf. Pro 16:18, 27:1, Luk 12:19-20, Jam 4:13-16.
Of all the gospel accounts, notice that Mark gives the clearest description of the vehemence with which Peter insisted he would never deny Christ, while the others seem to soften it; see Mar 14:31 and notice that the verb used is in the imperfect, meaning it wasn’t just a one-off remark, but a continual insistence, with the included adverb communicating the excessive nature of that insistence. Also recall that Mark was likely the first to assemble written records of the gospel accounts that were then used by the other gospel writers in their own accounts, and that Mark’s primary source was Peter himself: See Act 12:12, 1Pe 5:13, and also recall that the upper room where Jesus directed Peter and John to prepare for them the Passover was very possibly the home of Mark, and it may even have been Mark that they met carrying the pitcher of water; cf. Luk 22:8-12. Considering that Peter was Mark’s primary source and Mark didn’t sugar-coat either Peter’s insistence that he would never deny Jesus, or the spectacular way in which he did in fact later deny Him (see Mar 14:71), what does this communicate about what the Lord saw in Peter beyond his failures so that He chose him as an apostle who would even become a leader of the others in spreading the gospel message? See again Heb 5:2 and consider also Peter’s failure in regard to the Gentile converts in Galatia (Gal 2:11ff.) but later acknowledgement of the truth at the Jerusalem Council (Act 15:6-11). Are we as willing to humble ourselves when confronted by our faults and to acknowledge when we are wrong so as to point others in the way of truth? How is what Jesus saw in Peter so very different from what the world sees in its great leaders? Does Jesus see in us the same thing He saw in Peter?