We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him, and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week.
Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. 17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. John 18:15-17. Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” 26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. John 1*:25-27
- Judas. A study in Utter Rejection of Jesus. Imagine if you can the disciples traveling with Jesus for 3 years, with various responsibilities. Judas the treasurer of the group, trusted with the financial resources of the disciples. Yet it was Judas who humanly fulfilled the prophecy ‘I will strike the shepherd’. And his betrayal is revealed publicly to the disciples but in acts of mercy, he is not cast out of the group nor the last hours of association with Jesus. Amazing. No second chance here. Judas made his decisions.
- Peter. A Study in Failure and Recovery. The second revelation is predicting again Peter’s denial of Jesus. Now one of the leaders of the disciples – the one on whom was the Rock, and the Church would be built – would deny he knew Jesus not once, but three times. What was left for the disciples to rely on? Even so, the incredible grace of Jesus not only predicting Peter’s recovery, but the grace of second and third chances in our spiritual journey!
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34.
- All the Disciples – Will Fall Away. Talk about a failed enterprise. The three years of Jesus teaching and ministering to the crowds was seemingly having no effect nor lasting work. The leader shortly to die. The disciples ALL scattering. The shepherd is killed, the sheet are ALL scattered. While the disciples will later form the foundation of the church, for now, the focus is only and ultimately back to Jesus and the cross.
This passage speaks about commitment and priorities. It illustrates that even during hard times Jesus asks that we follow Him. We may not understand fully, but we can trust him who has gone before us. No better harbor of safety. Blessings to you this week. Be encouraged that we are better than the failures that mark out life as we know it.
Luke 22 should bring us our knees in gratitude. ‘When you have recovered, go and strengthen your brothers’ I know it is a life principle that encourages me weekly.
17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.. Hebrews 2:17-18.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6.