In one evening, on the night He was betrayed the Lord Jesus made three consecutive prophetic declarations that were all fulfilled that same day.
While they were reclining and eating, Jesus said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me — one who is eating with Me!”
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will run away, because it is written:
I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.
“I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “today, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times!”
Facts but sad facts nonetheless, facts that reflected negatively on those it was spoken over. The first two were quite literally set in stone in that they had been predicted hundreds of years ago and written about in the scriptures while the last one – of Peter denying Christ – was not so. Here it was Christ simply stating a truth that would take place exercising his ability as God of knowing everything – past, present and future, His foreknowledge of all things which He possessed as God.
Within a matter of a few hours all the prophecies were fulfilled right in front of their eyes one after the other. Judas betrayed Christ (Mark 14:44 – 45), all Christ’s disciples deserted Him and ran away (Mark 14:50) and Peter had disowned him – as predicted by Christ – three times.
Immediately a rooster crowed a second time, and Peter remembered when Jesus had spoken the word to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” When he thought about it, he began to weep.
It is very easy to condemn Peter while at the same time very hard to imagine the emotions that must have been ravaging through his mind.
On the one hand he could easily be chastised for, firstly offering his undying loyalty to His Master when it was never solicited or requested and second, for following Jesus in captivity all the way to the High priest’s courtyard when he did not have to do so. Had he not done one or the other this story would have had a different ending for him. The script would have been totally different. He chose to speak out and declare his undying loyalty to Christ and again he chose to follow Christ to the high priest’s courtyard. None of these actions were forced or involuntarily; he acted out of his own accord.
On the other hand, he could also be highly commended for being the one who not only spoke out declaring his loyalty but went all the way to the high priest’s courtyard out of his love and loyalty to His Master – none of the others did either. He was the one who felt strongly enough about His Master to declare what he believed to be an accurate reflection of his heart and followed Him all the way to His captors to find out what they’d do to Him.
Peter had a deep attachment and affection for His Lord which he was not prepared to hide but openly declare and sincerely believed would stand the test of persecution even unto death. Peter was both genuine and sincere in the public proclamation of his unwavering loyalty to Christ despite the impending opposition. He just did not see it coming with such severity and he did not know how weak and unable he was to stand up to it. His weakness and fear to stand for Christ were exposed in the face of harsh reality and intensity of persecution he was being asked to endure, despite the strength of his feelings for his Master and his adamant determination to remain loyal to him all the way as he’d so desired and wanted to do so. This must have caused untold emotional trauma for this fisherman from Galilee. This was something he’d never experienced, very unfamiliar territory for him, and he soon found himself overwhelmed by and responding in fear for his own life and safety – his escape route was to deny having any knowledge of and association with the accused. He chose flight over fight.
No one could ever confidently say they’d chose differently given the same set of circumstances without having been in them. Peter’s heart must have been broken almost beyond repair. He not only wanted but thought and truly believed he could stand up for His Master no matter what but when faced with the harsh reality and intensity of the circumstances he discovered that he could not. For all his bravado and bragging, he caved in.
Let us not be too quick to pass judgment on this wonderful fisherman from Galilee (and on others for that matter). He had a beautiful soul which the Master recognised and duly acknowledged in calling and graciously restoring him to his calling after such a massive fall.
That same restoring grace awaits each one of us no matter how steep we may have fallen.
What hope, what comfort!