Saturday, March 19, 2016

Supreme Fail!

Scriptural Reading: Mark 14:26-31, 66-72
Devotional Reading: Jeremiah 3:12-18

The Israelites loved and worshiped God in accordance to the laws. However, after a time, they thought God would not mind if they started worshiping their idols. Such was not acceptable and the LORD allowed them to be ruled by others. They had failed where they had courage as long as they were in the will of God. So they cried out for the mercy of God. The LORD God showed much mercy to Israel as we see in Jer 3:12-13, ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God, And have scattered your charms To alien deities under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.’ (NKJV) Israel always failed the test, but God showed mercy, sent prophets and shepherds to teach them and He forgave them. Of course, there was always a consequence.

We are in Unit I – “Tests of Faith” of the three units of the quarter. This is the third lesson of a four-lesson study of faith. In the lesson today we witness Peter’s denial of his friendship with and knowledge of Christ.

Jesus had just instituted the LORD’s Supper. In verse 26 He and the disciples are concluding the Passover meal traditionally by singing part of the Hallel – Psalms 113-118. Mark 14:26-28 reads, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. ‘You will all fall away,’ Jesus told them. ‘for it is written: I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (NKJV) Here we have Jesus’ prediction of His Death and Resurrection. The LORD’s Supper had been instituted in His remembrance. Then they left Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. Jesus tells His disciples that during His moment of testing by the Roman authorities unleashed by Jewish religious leaders, they will lose their courage and run away in fear. That is what Jesus meant when He said “fall away”. The viciousness would be against Him, the Shepherd. But scattering the flock is not the entire house of Israel, only the disciples. However, he still loved them. This was just a prophecy that had to come to pass. (Zech 13:7) He promised to see them after the Resurrection in Galilee.

Peter attempts to convince the LORD of his loyalty even more than that of the other disciples. The Apostle Mark states in chapter 14:29-31, “Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’ ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘today-yes-tonight before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’ But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same.” (NKJV) Peter always seems to step out with overconfidence and courage. He appears as a faithful, loyal servant preparing to defend his Master and “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. (John 15:13 NKJV) But when it came time for the arrest of Jesus, Peter pulled his sword and cut off the ear of an arresting officer. (Mark 14:47) He did not expect anything but armed confrontation against his Master, not an arrest, trial, execution, and death. Jesus interrupted Peter in his prideful declaration and thoughts and gave him something to really think about. He told him that tonight before the rooster crows twice He would disown Him three times. Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to continue to own their friendship three times before the cock crowed twice. Pretty good odds. Peter simply could not believe the reality the Master was teaching him. What was the Plan and why was it shifting? He did not understand this Resurrection, but he vowed never to disown his Master. His sense of boldness causes the other disciples to be bold for the LORD also. He said he was ready to die for the LORD, are they ready too?

When Jesus prophesies the future, accept it. The first confrontation Peter had in the courtyard is at Mark 14:66-68, “While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. ‘You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus, she said. But he denied it. ‘I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,’ he said, and went out into the entryway.”(NKJV) Although Peter had scattered (fallen away) when the Roman authorities captured Jesus, he simply fell behind to see where they took him. He may have felt he still had a bit of courage by being in the courtyard until he was recognized. Sometimes it’s more dangerous to be in the company of the Savior’s enemies. The servant girl’s simple recognition of Peter as a follower caused him to sin against Jesus. He then became a pathetic disciple who disowned Jesus, stating he knew nothing about the man. This was the first time Peter expressed total disloyalty to Christ. He left the courtyard in time to go to the porch and hear the rooster crow for the first time as prophesied by Christ.

Is he sweating? Is his pressure up? Does he remember the earlier prophecy from Christ? By the way, he won’t remember until Mark 14:72. Scripture is silent on the answers to many questions and I would love to know. Mark 14:69-70a describes the second confrontation and denial, “When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ Again he denied it.” (NKJV) In verses 66-68 the conversation is between the servant girl and Peter. In these verses beginning the second and third confrontation, there are others present. This accusation implies that Peter has done something because ‘he is one of them.’ You will recall Peter’s statement to Jesus at verse 31, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” The problem is that he is now facing the reality of his death, therefore breaking his earlier promise and disowning his beloved Master. He denies Christ a second time.

Those persons who were present during the servant girl’s accusation heard Peter’s denial and their opinion and his response are stated at Mark 14:70-71, “After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” (NKJV) They believed the servant girl. Peter’s actions were not believable and they confirmed it probably because he had a Galilean accent. So he began to call down curses against Jesus, being even ashamed to mention His name. Peter is bearing false witness against the LORD.

The prophecy of the LORD has been fulfilled except for the rooster crowing. Mark 14:72 declares “Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” (NKJV) His repentance was immediate, deep to the soul, and very emotional. Peter broke down and wept. Probably the more he thought about it, the more he wept. Where was his courage? Sometimes you have to be broken to be a better warrior for the LORD.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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