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“Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:35).
Oh, the dangers of overestimating the strength of our flesh. Just prior to Peter’s courageous (albeit untrustworthy) outburst, Jesus had given him and the other disciples not just a warning, but a prophecy.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.’ Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times'” (Mattnew 26:31-34).
There was no “maybe” to what Jesus said. It wasn’t, “If you don’t change such and such, such and such might happen.” He came right out and said, “ALL of you will stumble tonight. And Peter, you’re going to do it three times before the rooster crows.” Specific and to the point.
Yet what do we hear in response? Bravado. “Not I! Never!!”
I don’t know. I suppose it’s the comfort of hindsight and the distance of 2000 years, but I like to think that if Jesus told me something straight up, I’d believe Him. And yet … am I not as susceptible as Peter when it comes to dependence on my flesh? I am.
The truth is, we’re never so strong as when we’ve come to the end of ourselves. As long as we carry a flicker of hope that we can depend on our own ability to do the right thing, we’re in danger of stumbling. How much better it is to surrender, and ask God to override our flesh with His Spirit.
Because given the chance and the right set of circumstances, our flesh will deny Jesus just as quickly as Peter’s did.