Matthew 26:25 – Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." (NIV)
Matthew 26:33,35 – Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will. Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same. (NIV)
"I would never do that! No, not me!" Hasn't that thought at some point drifted across your mind, maybe after seeing how badly someone messed up? I've had such thoughts more than I care to admit. On those occasions, I simply couldn't see myself stooping so low.
That's just how the disciples felt when Jesus predicted their impending failure. They could not comprehend how far they would fall in the coming hours. Judas had no idea how low his greed would pull him down when faced with temptation. The eleven had no idea how quickly fear would spin them into a fight-or-flight survival mode, causing Peter to strike his sword at a soldier, and later deny any memory of Jesus. All of them would abandon Jesus in His darkest hour.
The disciples adamantly insisted that they would stick with Jesus, no matter what. Hadn't they always stuck with Him? Surely, He was mistaken when He said, "You will all fall away on account of me." Surely the prophecy didn't apply to them: "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered." (Matthew 26:31, from Zechariah 13:7).
As for you and me? None of us knows how far we can fall in testings which we have never yet faced. We don't know how much temptation we are able to resist, nor can we know what threats may someday assail us. And so, we do well to take note of the disciples' experiences. In them we see ourselves. Their stories help us to accept our own potential for failure, and above all, the strength of God's restorative grace. We realize that our Lord eagerly invites His children back into His arms and re-affirms His purposes for them.
Eleven disciples accepted their fallibility and were restored to their Lord. Their experience helped ignite their passion to proclaim the exhilarating message of saving grace.
As for Judas, surely his ultimate failure was not his betrayal, but his resistance to God's grace afterwards. Surely, he condemned himself by turning his back on a merciful God. Judas did not see how God would use his failure to bring about good.
Jesus' disciples remind us that we need not be anxious about failure. Instead, we can trustfully cling to God's faithfulness to restore all who approach Him with a repentant heart. It's the privilege of salvation!
Prayer: Dear Father, this week, as we remember Christ's suffering, may we also remember His disciples' anguish during those dark days. May we remember Peter's bitter tears when he realized how badly he had failed. May we be inspired to trust in Your power to bring about good through any failures — always for Your glory. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "In The Cross Of Christ I Glory" (Lyrics)