Then Jesus said to them, “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.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night,before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. – Matthew 26:31-35
This brings us to Peter’s denial (vv. 31-35). We do not have to look into Peter’s failure in detail here, because we will come to it again at the end of this chapter where Peter actually does deny Jesus. But we can say this. There is no doubt that Peter loved Jesus and that he was fiercely loyal. Peter was in dead earnest when he answered the Lord’s predictions by protesting, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (v. 33) and “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (v. 35). But Peter did not know his own weakness, and when the crisis arrived he fled into the darkness with the others and later denied Jesus before servants as he stood in the courtyard of the priests.
It had been predicted, of course, and not just by Jesus in these moments before his arrest and crucifixion. It was found in Zechariah 13:7, as Jesus understood it: “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
Jesus was smitten. The sheep were scattered. But it was because Jesus was struck for the disciples that their sins of denial, as well as all their other sins, were forgiven, and it was by the drawing power of Jesus’ glorious resurrection they were eventually brought together again and reestablished as the church which is Christ’s true body on this earth.
It should be a comfort to us to know that Christianity is for people exactly like these weak disciples. It is not very often for the strong, the powerful, the rich, the successful, or the self-sufficient, because people like this do not often think that they need Jesus. Paul noticed this and wrote about it in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. It is hard to get self-sufficient people to see their need of Christ and come to him. Therefore, Christianity is most often for those who are weak, ignorant, and often failing, but who know their need, turn from sin, and trust Jesus, just as Peter did.
You need to become one of these people. If you do, you will have ceased trusting in yourself and will have come to trust and love Jesus, and you will know that all the blessings of the gospel are for you.