Summary: Have you ever been cautioned - never say never? Peter and the disciples were told they would deny and desert the Lord, but they vehemently denied they would ever commit such an act. We must seek the Lord and His strength to endure.
Warned of Denial and Desertion
Mark 14: 27-31
Our text reveals a critical moment in the lives of the disciples. They had just enjoyed the Last Supper with Jesus in the Upper Room. Having departed, they are making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. While they are completely unaware, Jesus will soon be arrested and tried for crimes He had not committed.
As we consider where these men would have been in their walk with the Lord, all appeared well with them. They had faithfully followed Jesus and were convinced He was the Christ. They are committed to the Lord, and yet Jesus knows these men are vulnerable. The events that will transpire on this night will challenge their understanding and shake the very foundation of their faith. Knowing what lay ahead, Jesus sought to prepare them for the events to come.
This passage reveals truth that is much needed in our day as well. Whether we want to admit it or not, especially after walking with the Lord for an extended period of time, we assume that we are above failure. We see others who have failed, and yet we honestly believe it could never happen to us. When we reach that mindset, we too are vulnerable and apt to fall.
As we examine the admonitions within the text, I want to consider the thought: Warned of Denial and Desertion.
I. The Prediction of Jesus (27-28) – Bear in mind the context of this passage. Jesus and the eleven have departed from the Upper Room and are headed toward the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is aware that His betrayal and arrest are close at hand. As they are walking toward the garden, Jesus makes a startling prediction. Notice:
A. The Proclamation (27a) – And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night. I can imagine the mood being heavy, with the disciples trying to rationalize what Jesus had just told them within the Upper Room. He had spoken of His body and blood being shed for them. Likely they were walking in silence when Jesus broke the silence with this startling statement – all of you will be offended because of me this night! He revealed they would literally “stumble and fall away” from Him before the night had ended. The modern English word “scandal” is derived from this Greek word. While they had yet to understand all that would transpire, they knew exactly what Jesus meant by this statement. He warned that each of them would stumble in doubt and fear, deserting and abandoning Him before the night was over.
B. The Prophecy (27b) – for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. We must also remember that Jesus is the living Word come to earth in the form of a Man. He knew all the Scriptures and the many prophecies regarding His first advent. Jesus reminded them of what Zechariah had prophesied concerning this very night. Zech.13:7 – Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. This prophecy would be fulfilled before the night was over. It was actually two-fold. Zechariah spoke of:
1. The Smitten Shepherd – The disciples were completely unaware of the events that would transpire that very night. Jesus would be betrayed by Judas, arrested and taken to stand trial before the Sanhedrin. They would falsely accuse Him and treat Him with utter contempt, abusing and mocking the Sovereign King. He would be taken before Pilate and Herod, who would also smite and abuse the Lord. By early morning the next day, Jesus will have been beaten and scourged mercilessly by the Roman soldiers. He will be condemned to death and crucified on a Roman cross.
2. The Scattered Sheep – Jesus was not the only one described in Zechariah’s prophecy. He also spoke of those who followed the Shepherd being scattered as He was smitten. These men did not want to hear these words, refusing to believe they would abandon the Lord, but we know this portion of the prophecy was fulfilled as well. Mark 14:50 – And they all forsook him, and fled.
C. The Promise (28) – But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. Likely they failed to grasp the enormity of this promise, but Jesus wanted to assure them that everything would work out according to the sovereign plan of God. That night and the next few days would be very difficult, but hope was not lost. In this statement, Jesus revealed:
1. His Resurrection – The Shepherd would be smitten and die, but death would be unable to hold Him. Jesus knew death was coming, but it would not be final. Prior to His crucifixion and death, Jesus promised the disciples that He would rise again from the dead unto life!