Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
Mike Tyson famously said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to boxing, and to be honest, these words of pugilistic wisdom can also apply to other parts of life. We all think we have what it takes. We’ll pass the test and stand strong and come through when the chips are down. Especially when it comes to our faith, we want to believe we would never turn our backs on Jesus. I hope not, but Jesus’ own disciples, his closest friends and most faithful followers, all fell away when Jesus needed them the most. Even Peter – brash and boastful, strong and determined – would face and fail the test. “I never will,” Peter declared, but Jesus knew what was coming. When it all seemed to be falling apart around him, Peter disowned his Lord not once, not twice, but three times that fateful night.
Most of our sins, including the little ways we “disown” Jesus, seem far more subtle than what Peter did. We rarely sin publically. Many of us have never been called on to renounce our faith, and we hope we never would. Then again, we are all sinners. We hurt people and disobey God. Sometimes, we fail to do things we know we should do. We might walk away from opportunities to proclaim Jesus’ name, maybe out of fear, like Peter, or just because we don’t feel like getting involved. We hope we would never do what Peter did, but we all share that same weak nature that sometimes gives in under pressure.
But don’t miss the gracious promise in Jesus’ words. After telling the disciples that they would all fall away, Jesus said He would go ahead of them into Galilee. Those words are an invitation to come back to him in faith. After the resurrection, Jesus would be waiting for them to come home. That is God’s grace. He knows we are sinners. Jesus knows what we have done in the past and what we will do in the future, and yet He calls us to himself with forgiveness, mercy and grace. You are going to get punched in the face again, and you are going to do things you will regret. You will fall into sin again, and Jesus will be there again to offer you forgiveness. The Risen Savior is going ahead of you so He can show you the way back to God’s grace.
Father, You are full of grace and mercy. Thank You for sending Jesus to die for me so I can live forever with You. Forgive my sins and help me to be strong in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian