Summary: the failure of our own strength.
Peter- Dismay in the Garden
Answer a question for me: How can you go from ‘I will never deny you, I will die for you, to ‘I don’t know him in less than 12 hours?’ That was Peter’s experience on that fateful night. How did it happen? What contributed to such a fall from the one whom Christ had named ‘Rock’? For just a moment listen to Peter:
How could it happen to me? How could I deny him after I promised, unlike the other disciples, I would never leave him? I mean I said I would die for him. How could it have happened to me? You know as a fisherman I look out and look forward to anticipate a coming storm. I put more ballast in the bottom of the boat when a storm is approaching so that we remain stable in the midst of the storm. Why did I not do the same in my life? Why did I not listen when Jesus told me that ‘satan wanted to sift me as wheat?’ I mean, he did not say that he was forbidden or prevented from sifting me. Jesus said that he prayed for me that I would not fall into temptation. I mean I should have listened, but I didn’t. And look what happened?
Do you just think that maybe that was the conversation had with himself, or others after this night recorded for us in each of the gospels? Well let us see what we can learn from this night in the life of Peter.
A few hours earlier Jesus had just celebrated the Passover with his 12 disciples. He had asked Peter to prepare the room and meal for the Passover. Jesus had broken bread and proclaimed that his body would be broken for them. He poured out wine and proclaimed that his blood would be poured out for them and for us. During the meal Jesus took off his outer garment and performed the task of the lowest slave in washing the disciples feet, including Judas, the one of whom he had predicted betrayal. Judas leaves the 12. He goes off into the darkness to betray Christ. Then Christ takes the other 11 to Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives and leaving 8 of them at the entrance he takes Peter, James and John on into the garden to pray. That is where we pick up the story again in verses 32-42.
Jesus Prays while the Disciples Sleep
Look at verses 32 following. Christ falls down under the weight of the sorrow in his soul at what is to come. He speaks to the disciples (verse34) of the agony, the trouble and the anguish of his soul and he requests that they ‘watch and pray.’ Mark tells us, from Peter’s eyewitness account, that the weight of sorrow upon Christ was so great he physically collapsed in prayer. Christ prays calling God ‘Abba’ (Father) – whereas Jews would use ‘Abinu’(our Father) when addressing God. At this moment in his life Christ desires that intimate personal relationship with His Father. He not only desires it he needs it to face what is to come. He cries out to his Father if there is any other way then let this cup pass from me – and yet he concludes with humble submission and obedience. Genuine obedience is not doing what we want but submitting to the last thing in the world we would do. The prayerful obedience of Christ made the cross possible. When Christ returns he finds the three disciples asleep and yet it is Peter whom he addresses. Why just Peter? Could it be because of his insistence on following Christ even to death? Possibly because Peter is the one Christ has identified as the leader of the 12. Whatever the reason you can hear the disappointment in the voice of Christ as he challenges Peter – read verse 37. You can also hear the urgency in his voice as he warns Peter in verse 38. Yet to no avail – because on two further occasions they are asleep again. On the second occasion they are at least embarrassed enough not to speak – verse 40. Luke tells us that when he came back the third time Peter and the other disciples were ‘exhausted with sorrow.’ On this occasion Jesus speaks ‘Enough! the hour has come.’ The word ‘enough’ there means ‘the bill is settled’ or ‘it is established.’ At the beginning of the gospel Christ had said ‘the time is near’ now he says ‘the hour has arrived.’ They were to watch for the coming of Judas and the soldiers – instead it is Christ anticipates them and hears them coming. He tells them it is time to go for the hour of my death has arrived. Here is the betrayer and the soldiers come to arrest me. Would they go with him? So far and then they will flee and desert him. So that is the account of Gethsemane – but what do we learn from Peter that can benefit us spiritually this morning? Well let me take a few moments to share with you why Peter fell.