“I won’t forsake you, Jesus!” just hours earlier, with boldness, Peter set the expectation that he held for himself. Often we overestimate ourselves. In Peter’s case, it was understandable. He was following Jesus, the very Son of God. There was no other person like Him. How could Peter ever forsake Him?
The events of this strange evening had taken a dark, unexpected twist, and Peter had been shaken but not yet overtaken. As the band of soldiers took Jesus into custody, Peter had been the first to draw his sword in defense of Jesus. His loyalty was unquestionable. But there were just too many soldiers, and all of the disciples fled. In the next moment, Peter found himself running through the groves and gardens descending the Mount of Olives. The soldiers had taken Jesus, and Jesus’ disciples had narrowly escaped. Later in the night, Peter caught back up with the band of soldiers as they marched Jesus into the Palace of the High Priest.
The night was dark, but the burning lamps and torches left no shadow safe enough for a follower of Jesus, especially one as recognizable as Peter. Until now, it had been a joy to be at the front of the crowd right next to Jesus. As the events of the night unfolded, one accuser after another recognized Peter as a follower of Jesus. Instinctively, Peter deflected their challenges, lest he be arrested with Jesus. It was not until Peter’s third denial that he realized what he had done. In a moment of bitter regret, Peter’s earlier claim of loyalty had been completely destroyed. He had forsaken Jesus. He had left Him on His own. He was no braver than the others, he was shameful and despicable. In Jesus’ hour of need, His closest friend, Peter, had forsaken Him.
In John 15, hours before this took place, Jesus had told His disciples, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He was a true friend. The night had gotten dark, but Jesus, the friend of sinners, was not going to forsake His friends. He would press on through the lie-filled trial, through the mockery, and beatings. He would endure the wrath of God for His friends (Peter included), and no weight of shame or danger to Himself could deter Him. He was a better friend. No matter what it cost Him, He would save the world.
Food For Thought: Read John 15:8-14. In this last supper discourse, what does Jesus continually tell His disciples to do? How did He do this very thing just hours after speaking those words?