1 Corinthians 10:12: Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
The Apostle Paul wrote this some time after the events of Mark 14:26-31. But I imagine Peter (and the other disciples), looking back, wished that he (they) heard this and took it to heart during this occasion.
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee."
Peter said to him, "Even though they all fall away, I will not."
And Jesus said to him, "Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times."
But he said emphatically, "If I must die with you, I will not deny you." And they all said the same. (Mark 14:26-31)
This passage comes right off of Mark’s recounting the behind-the-scenes events of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It seems that Judas wasn’t the only one who had loyalty issues. (You know how this passage turns out, right? Jesus was correct.) So what’s the difference between Peter (and co) and Judas?
Jesus gives a prophecy and a word of encouragement in the same sentence. Yes, they will fall away. But the promise of the Galilee rendezvous shows that they will be restored. There is a difference between someone who whole-heartedly rejects Jesus (Judas) and a believer who gets caught up in a moment of weakness. Peter’s denial of Jesus was an emotional response to a potentially dangerous situation. Wrong? Yes. Sinful? Yes. But much different than Judas, who we know was never really on board in the first place.
There is a word of caution here for all of us here. How many times have we denied our own potential for weakness? “Other people may fail God. But not me.” Look at the landscape of tragedy even in the church. Affairs. Theft. Gossip. Hatred. Abuse. “Other people may fall in these areas, but I would never!” Making that statement, or even thinking it… you are now in Peter’s shoes from this passage. And the people who DID fall, who sinned, who you are comparing yourself to… they thought the same thing once upon a time, denying their own weakness.
The key here is humility. Pride says, “I am stronger than the average guy. I cannot be tempted as others are.” Humility says, “I am weak. I can be tempted. I am one bad decision away from seriously hurting myself and those around me.”
Humility. Walking with Christ, trusting His strength, one step at a time.