31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’ 32 “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 33 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.
Peter was a very zealous man. If only we too could be as passionate about following Jesus to the ends of the earth and into all eternity, the world might be better off. Regardless of his zeal and strong character, he was still human and still susceptible to fear and mistakes. John 13 records an interesting exchange between Jesus and Peter when Jesus was washing the feet of the disciples:
6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”
Peter was so zealous that he even turned away Jesus’ blessing to him! He sometimes missed the point of the lesson because he was a very “all or nothing” kind of guy. I tend to be the same way sometimes…and let’s think about when we learn something new. Doesn’t it excite us and we want to jump in head first, even if we don’t know how dangerous the water is? We have to be careful about what we get zealous about, because we might not fully understand what we are getting ourselves into until it is too late.
Jesus knew what would happen to the disciples. The disciples refused to listen to Him, even though He told them more than once that He would be crucified and they would all scatter. How often do we offer lip service to God the same way they did? Usually when we do it, it’s after the fact: when we know what has already happened. These guys did it without understanding fully what was to come so at least they had somewhat of an excuse. However, it is evident that they still did not trust everything Jesus said. We do it in our repentance, begging God to save us “just this one time and we will never do it again.” But we do. We turn our backs on Him constantly and it upsets Him not for what it does to Him, but because of what it does to us. When we make decisions that draw us away from God, it hurts us. Even if we have the best intentions, if we refuse to take God’s advice (i.e. Jesus telling the disciples that there will be a time of fear and scattering soon) or just try to go about things on our own strength and will (i.e. Peter thinking he would never refuse Jesus or asking Jesus to give him a sponge bath) we will shortly find ourselves somewhere we never would have imagined in our spiritual lives.
Yes, He loves us and wants the best for us, but if we aren’t listening to His voice and taking His advice (He does, after all, know EVERYTHING) then we are just fools. In Proverbs 2 we learn that listening to God is the best source of wisdom:
1 My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, 2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
So then instead of seeking to be zealous for the Lord, let’s strive to be wise in the Lord.