Peter crowed like a rooster, but you have to give him credit. When
he disagreed with Jesus he said it to his face, not behind his back
like Judas.


 

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount
of Olives. 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."
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night,
before
the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."
But Peter
declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will
never disown you."
And all the other disciples said the same.

                                                               Matthew 26:30-35 NIV


                                        Surviving a Fall 

Who writes the script? Did you every look at your situation and
ask, "Who wrote this thing!" The disciples were having such a
moment. The end was closing in quickly on this small band of
brothers. After singing a Psalm, they walked into the night.
Through the crowd of pilgrims filling the streets of Jerusalem;
down the eastern side of the slope; across the Kidron Brook
and up the other side to the mount called Olivet.

From that peaceful vantage point they could look back over the
bustling city. When in Jerusalem, Jesus frequently sought refuge
there. It would not be difficult for Judas to find them.

But first, a few more words with his disciples before a prayer for
strength. There was no painless way to say it, so Jesus crouched
it in a word picture from Scripture. "I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will scatter." That verse said it perfectly. In other
words, "Tonight you will all put as much distance between you
and me as possible!" Quickly he added the consolation that he
would meet them again in Galilee after his resurrection.

Two hours ago in the upper room, it was "One of you." Now the
number snowballed rapidly to include all of them. They didn't
have to wonder who anymore; there were no scapegoats. The
agony they had felt at mealtime returned and deepened.

Peter, always quick to reply and often disagreeing with Jesus,
said, "Absolutely not!" In his mind, there was no way Jesus' words
could be true. Even if all the others fled in fear, he certainly
wouldn't. "No, sir! I would never do that to you." You gotta' love
this guy. He's so authentic. A real work in progress.

Peter's story comes to us unvarnished. Not only would he turn
and run, he would deny knowing Jesus. Not once, but three
times. Tonight! Before morning! I picture Jesus speaking sadly
and tenderly, in sympathy with the pain and shame Peter would
experience. And Peter swelling with pride and stretching to his
full height as he contradicted the words of his beloved Master.
Invincible Peter intended to stand firm and even go to the death
with Jesus if necessary. The others echoed his noble words.

Did Peter think himself better armed against temptation than
the other disciples? Or immune to the transgressions common
to his brotherhood? Peter, the big bold fisherman, spent most
of his life at the controls. He was passionately loyal, his speech
fiery and full of lofty intentions. But he was not prepared for the
test that was to come. Although there would be but one traitor,
they would all be deserters. Peter protested loudly. Before this
ordeal was over he will fail miserably, swear profusely, and
weep uncontrollably.

"I will be faithful and never leave you." That expressed the intent
of their hearts and the commitment Jesus and all the disciples
had made to each other. In this week of his Passion, Jesus
succeeded while Peter and the others failed. Why the difference?
Peter fought to write his own script; Jesus accepted the lines
God wrote for him. Submission gave him the peace, unity and
strength to survive the night.

Here's the scope--Yes, you will get spooked and scatter. I'm
telling you this ahead of time so you'll know that's not the end
of our story. There's going to be another chapter and always
another one after that. Regardless of what you do or fail to do,
God's mercy endures forever, without end! When all your
bluster is silenced, when you are lost and afraid, ashamed or
disconnected--know this--I will find you again.

Amazingly, Jesus was still counting on them. While their whole
endeavor seemed to be crumbling, Jesus was already looking
beyond the cross to the day he will take this rag-tag army of
followers back to Galilee. There on a mountain he would
commission them to take his gospel to the whole world. Proving
once again the good news--every failure, every loss, every grief,
can be redeemed.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker: Think of a time you feared for your life?
                      Describe what you did to try and save yourself?

 

Name something which you have done which was either brave
or cowardly. Does bravery mean you were strong and cowardice
mean you were weak?
            Or is it more complicated than that?
            What does it mean, or what is required, to be heroic?
If you can't remember any bravery or cowardice, what does that
say about you?

 

Confident of his own invincibility, Peter sounded like the deck hand
on the Titanic who bragged, "God himself could not sink this ship!" 
            What claim have you heard lately that sounded just as
                    overly-confident?
            When someone makes a boast like this, what are they overlooking?

 

Peter was in denial before he disowned Jesus three times.
            In this text, what was Peter denying?
            Why were these words of Jesus so offensive to him?
            What "life lesson" did Peter need to learn?

 

Someone has said the first step to acquiring strength is admitting
your weakness!
            Do you agree or disagree?   Explain your answer.
II Corinthians 12:9 quotes God's response to the prayers of the
apostle Paul--"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made
perfect in weakness."
            What hope does this verse give to you?

 

Make a list of the ways in which Christians today deny their Lord
and distance themselves from the tenets of their faith.
            Note which ones apply to you.
            Are there certain sins you feel confident you would never commit?
Are you encouraged or discouraged when you study the failings
of the disciples?

 

What words do you use to express your commitment to God?
            What have you promised?   What has God promised you?

 

Do you believe that no matter how lost and afraid, ashamed or
disconnected we are, Jesus will find us again?
            How has that been true, or untrue, for you?

 

Think of your life as a book.
            How many chapters does it have?
            Why do you like or dislike what you read?
            What do you wish to add or delete?
            Who writes the script?
            Have your sorrows been redeemed?
            What remains to be told?

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