“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 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 26:30-35
Today, as we prepare to enter Holy Weekend, we celebrate Maundy Thursday. It is easy to overlook as we meditate on Jesus’s death on Good Friday and His triumphant resurrection on Easter Sunday, but today is still crucially important in setting the stage for the days to come. We see several important scenes take place on this Holy Thursday in the Gospels: the Agony in the Garden, the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, and the Last Supper, among others. However, I would like us to focus in on a particular moment during the Last Supper, when Jesus gives His disciples an ominous warning. He tells them, “You will all fall away because of me this night,” and we can see from the following chapters that this does indeed come to pass.
Now, note what Peter says. When he hears this, Peter tells Jesus He is wrong, elevating himself above the other disciples as he declares his loyalty. Jesus even addresses Peter specifically, saying that he specifically will betray Him. But Peter maintains that he will sooner die than deny Jesus, a vow that all the other disciples echo. Peter is proved wrong within the same chapter, as he betrays Jesus just a few verses later.
It is easy to sit in judgment of Peter when reading this passage, as his own pride and fickle faith are quite evident through this exchange and the episodes that follow it. However, we are more like Peter than many of us would care to admit. How often do we pledge our ultimate loyalty to Christ, only to fall away from Him in the midst of a trial? How often do we proclaim to the world, “I do not know Him,” with our choices to sin? It is easy to commit oneself to God with one’s words, but it is another matter to maintain our faith and obedience to Him under pressure. We consistently deny Jesus, just as Peter did, even under threats far less severe than death. We often think of our faith as stronger than others, despite our own shortcomings. Let us not regard ourselves as superior to others in our spiritual life with Christ. Instead, may we learn to humble ourselves before our King and ask Him to sustain us in our commitment to Him, especially in the midst of trials.
Father God, please draw near to us as we meditate on the death of Your Son in our stead and celebrate His glorious resurrection in the coming days. Help us to sit with the weightiness of these gifts of grace and to conform our lives to the example of Christ. Humble us before You and others. Help us to understand the depths of our own sin, that we might fathom the depths of Your grace. Do not let us fall away in times of trouble, but may Your Holy Spirit keep us faithful and steadfast at all times. In the almighty name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Passage for Further Reading:
About the Author:
Kevin Flores is a third-year student at the University of Chicago studying pre-law and religious studies. He is Co-President of University Ministry of Christ Church Chicago and senior design editor of Cana.