Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mark 14:27-31 Jesus Fortells Peter’s Denial

27 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 will be scattered.’
28 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” 31 But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.

Jesus and the disciples having celebrated the Passover where Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, and gave within its inauguration the decree for us who believe in Him to keep the Lord’s Supper. As a remembrance of what He was about to do, and has done for us all, symbolized by His breaking the bread as His body broken for our sins and transgressions. Then His pouring out the wine, symbolizing His own blood poured out as the atoning blood for all our sins. Now as they are journeying to the Mount of Olives. Jesus warns the disciples that this night they will all be made to stumble as a consequence of Jesus being stricken.

That is Jesus will be taken by force by lawless hands, and then be horribly flogged, before being crucified to death. The striking of the Shepherd is Jesus’ declaring the fulfillment of the Scripture from Zechariah 13:7. In which the Old Testament prophet foresaw these events unfolding. Now in both Zechariah’s prophecy, and in Jesus’ own Words, it is clear that God the Father in His immutable and eternal counsels willed this be done. So that through the mortal ruling powers and authorities established by God, these would be the agents in fulfilling His Word and Will. And so with Jesus Words to the disciples that they will all be made to stumble this night because of Him, they all will, and not just the Apostle Peter. Who because of his zealous and passionate declaration of following Jesus to death, often bears a burden in the eyes of some for denying Jesus three times as Jesus said He would. Nonetheless on this night of terrible darkness, every disciple’s heart and courage will fail, for it is the will of God.
For if the Shepherd must be struck according to the Word and Will of God so must the sheep who follow Him be made to stumble. Therefore when God strikes the Shepherd, the sheep will all be scattered. Even though there is a heartfelt passion and desire to remain loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ. Even unto death as the Apostle Peter clearly says here. Nonetheless without the Shepherd upholding all the disciples they will fall just as we would all likewise fail. Make no mistakes about it. The determined will of man or woman does not keep them in the faith as the Apostle Peter so clearly exemplifies. But rather it is the Shepherd Himself. Who both guides; protects; corrects and ultimately preserves His own who believe in Him. For even when we stumble as Jesus foretells that Peter is about to do. It is the Shepherd alone who both preserves and ultimately restores us when we do fall. Even when we are seemingly broken in our faith lives. It is the Lord Jesus alone who still saves us, restores us, and reconciles us back to God forever. So that we; as Jesus tells the Apostle Peter to do in Luke’s gospel’s parallel passage, can likewise strengthen our brethren in their time of need: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Luke 22:32  For it is through our own falls and failures that we often become greater agents of God’s grace, truth and love. Therefore please consider what the Lord Jesus says of those who fall and what our attitude should be towards them when they do: 10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matt. 18:10-14

The Contemporary English Version renders it this way: “Don’t be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven.” Now the word that is translated despise in NKJ and cruel in CEV is kataphroneo, pronounced: kat-af-ron-eh’-o. It is made up of made up of two words. A preposition kata: against, down, and phroneo; fron-eh-o, the mind, the thought. Now compound words in Greek don’t always carry into them the meaning of the words that they are made up from. But here this is clearly the case. And thus you have probably already reasoned that the word entails thinking against someone (Strongs); often with the resultant attitudes, words and actions which are invariably linked to what we think of someone whether good or bad. And thus this not only affects our own behavior towards someone but often others as well. Now Strong’s and NIDNTT collectively define the word as: To despise, disesteem, disparage etc. In essence show contempt or disregard for someone or something.” NIDNTT Therefore I would not be too hard on the Apostle Peter, or any of the other Apostle’s this night; and certainly not any believer, nor anyone who is seeking the Lord and yet stumbles in their faith walk. For at some point in our own faith lives, we too will be shown our own mortal weaknesses and failings towards Christ and God. In this consider Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the sinner: 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
Now the Word that Jesus uses in that parable translated despise has even stronger connotations. Enhanced Strong’s gives its meaning as: “to make of no account, despise utterly”. While the NIDNTT gives it simply as: “reject with contempt”. This is the same word that Luke later uses to describe Herod and his men rejecting and mocking Jesus before sending Him to Pilate (Luke 23:11). There is a reason then why the Holy Spirit moved Luke to use this word in both Jesus’ parable and of the Lord Himself. As Jesus’ concludes His parable by justifying the repentant sinner rather than the Pharisee who was blameless in his own eyes, yet despised the repentant sinner. For the Lord Jesus did not come to call the righteous (that is those who think they are in of themselves right before God), but rather sinners to repentance (Matt. 9:13). How about me and you? Do we think our own righteousness, or obedience, or good works and deeds; whether through the Law of God or man is what justifies us before God? If we do, as Jesus' parable reveals, we are out of step with Himself, the gospel, and His salvation which is by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. For the Scripture declares: “If righteousness comes through the Law then Christ died in vain.” Gal. 2:21

Now in saying these things I don’t want to lesson anyone’s steadfastness or resolve in pursuing moral excellence through obedience to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s commandments. Since that is one of the things we are commanded to do as recipients of the grace of God through Jesus Christ’s Person pursue righteousness in every aspect of our lives (2 Tim. 2:22). Rather my point is to make it abundantly clear that as we strive to excel in those excellent moral virtues that are from God that make us better image bearers of Him, that we don’t forget where we came from; or how we got to God’s grace in the first place (Eph. 2:8-9). “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” Ecc. 7:20 Therefore let us all be generous with our assessments of others. For who knows when we too will need a generous assessment of our own failings in being Jesus Christ's disciples.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

Additional Resources
James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995; Abbreviated Str.

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Abridged Edition; Verlyn D. Verbrugge; Editor. Abbreviated NIDNTT

Word Studies
Kataphroneo, STR 2706; GK 2969, pages 296-297 NIDNTT
Exoutheneo; STR 1848; GK 2024, page 191 NIDNTT

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