Mark: According To
Jesus and Peter
Awake, O Sword against my shepherd, against the Man who stand next to Me, declare the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered: I will turn My hand against the little ones. Zechariah 13:7 (ESV)
I thought about giving this post the title “Failure to Surrender.” Perhaps I should. But let’s begin.
The prediction of Peter’s denial is difficult for us to understand, inasmuch as Peter has spent the majority of three and a half years with Jesus. So what is happening with the above verse and why did Jesus quote this when he was addressing Peter?
Let’s start by reading the words Jesus spoke to Peter and the other disciples: 26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” 31 But he spoke more Vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.
Peter’s description, through the pen of Mark, of the events mentioned here are slightly different that the description given by the other three gospel writers. Let’s go back to our passage in Zechariah 13:7 a moment and see if we can apply it to this passage in Mark and to our own lives.
Jesus in Mark 14:27 is applying the words of Zechariah 13:7 to Himself and as Zechariah states the sheep were scattered we will see when Jesus is arrested that the disciples did run. The sheep mentioned in both passages must therefore refer to Jesus’ followers.
But the other tricky phrase of Zechariah 13:7 is when Zechariah pens the words “Turn mine hand.” The phrase can be understood either in a good sense or a bad sense. A good sense would be where the prophet Isaiah says of God “I will turn my hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and take away all your alloy.” Isaiah 1:25.
What is happening here is throughout life, we will go through difficulties in which it appears God is not with us. That God has turned his back on us. Jesus is telling Peter, in just a few hours the Shepherd, Christ, will be struck a mighty blow and all my followers (the sheep) will scatter as if you never knew me.
Yet the disciples had been with Jesus for three and a half years. He had healed their friends and relatives, he had taught them and predicted his upcoming trial and crucifixion. All this Jesus had done, but they had heard without listening, saw without seeing, and experienced without experiencing, so that when the great trial came before them they scattered and ran from Jesus as if they never Knew him and perhaps this showed that they didn’t.
Peter, oh Peter, the one who had declared Jesus to be the Messiah, the coming events would be particularly painful, for Jesus said, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.
What is the message for you and me? How strong is our relationship with Christ? When the temptation of life become to great and it appears heaven is not hearing my plea, do I continue to hold fast to the love I know is there, or will I scatter and run as the disciples?
When the opportunity to stand up for what is right and true, will I rely on God to give me the strength, wisdom and power necessary to stand up for him, or will I run leaving behind an opportunity witness for Christ?
Peter spoke forcefully and said, “If I have to die with you, I will not deny you,” yet he denied his Lord.
These trials and temptation, these moments when it seems God is not near are designed to make us more faithful to God. As the heat of the fire causes the impurity of the silver to rise to the top allowing the silversmith to skim off the imperfections, so does the fire of affliction cause the imperfections to be skimmed away by our Heavenly Father. Peter failed because he had a knowledge of Jesus without a true heartfelt relationship with Jesus. It is my hope that we will all be made ready for the Kingdom of Heaven by the fires of affliction that happen to us. All of heaven is pursuing us to build a relationship with Christ. What is it we are waiting for? Today is the first day of the rest of your life, why not start the rest of your life by accepting that relationship with Christ.