In the light of the contrast between Christ’s victory and Peter’s failure, let us now consider verses 31 through 75. Verse 31 says, “Then Jesus says to them, You will all be stumbled in Me this night, for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.” The Lord was the Shepherd, and the disciples were the sheep who were to be scattered. However, all the disciples said that they would not deny Him. All of them, especially Peter, had the assurance and the confidence that they would follow the Lord to the end, no matter what the pathway might be.
In His warning the Lord promised that He would be raised up and go to meet with them in resurrection in Galilee (v. 32). He also predicted that, on the night of His betrayal, Peter would deny Him three times (v. 34).
After warning the disciples, the Lord went with them to Gethsemane (v. 36). Gethsemane means the place of the oil press. The Lord was pressed there to flow out the oil, the Spirit. After taking Peter, James, and John, the Lord went to pray alone. When He returned from praying the first time, He found the disciples sleeping (v. 40). The Lord Jesus had told them seriously that His soul was “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,” and He had asked them to watch with Him (v. 38). But it seemed to them that nothing was going to happen and that everything was peaceful. Perhaps the disciples fell asleep because they had been tired out by the Lord’s presence. According to the other Gospels, Peter and John were the ones sent ahead to prepare the room for the Passover. Perhaps they were tired from all the events of the day. Peter might have said to himself, “I would like to stay away from Jesus for a little while. Since I cannot get away from Him, let me take a little sleep. The Lord may need to pray, but I need to sleep.” This was a full exposure of the fact that Peter was unable to make it in following the Lord. It is also a portrait of our situation. We love the Lord, but like Peter we may get tired out from being in His presence. Although it is wonderful to have the Lord’s presence, sometimes we may get too weary to care for it.
According to verses 40 and 41, when the Lord came to the disciples and found them sleeping, He said to Peter, “So, you were not able to watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is ready, but the flesh is weak.” In spiritual things our spirit is often ready or willing, but our flesh is weak. Notice that the Lord Jesus spoke this word specifically to Peter, for Peter was the “nose,” the one who was the most prominent.
When the Lord came back after praying the third time, the disciples were still sleeping. In verses 36 through 46 we see a contrast between the life that is absolutely able for the kingdom and the life that is completely unable. We do not have the first life by our natural birth. The life we have by our natural birth is completely unable to be for the kingdom.
In the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord was pressed to be sorrowful and distressed, even unto death. After praying to the Father three times, He took the Father’s will and was prepared to be crucified for the fulfillment of the Father’s will.
Verse 47 says, “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people.” Judas kissed the Lord Jesus affectionately as a sign that He was the one to be seized. If it had been a stranger who had led the crowd to the Lord, it would not have been so painful to Him. But the one who led the crowd in arresting Him was one who had been so close to Him for three and a half years. Humanly speaking, this hurt the Lord Jesus.
When the Lord was arrested, one of the disciples, Peter, reacted by drawing his sword, striking the slave of the high priest, and cutting off his ear (v. 51). Instead of helping the Lord Jesus, this action merely caused trouble. In his Gospel, John gives Peter’s name (John 18:10), and Luke mentions the fact that the Lord had to heal the ear (Luke 22:51). After telling Peter to put his sword into its place, the Lord said, “Do you think that I cannot beseech My Father and He will provide Me at once more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must be so?” (vv. 53-54). The word “so” refers to His death on the cross, which was prophesied in the Scriptures and needed to be fulfilled.
Once again we see here a contrast between two persons in the light of the kingdom. Peter resisted the Lord’s arrest, but the Lord was willing to accept it for the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Jesus’ life is more than able to be for the kingdom, but this is impossible for our life. Our life simply cannot withstand the events and environment related to the kingdom. We all must come to realize this. If we did not have this record of Peter’s failure, defeat, and denial, we might think that our natural life could succeed in being for the kingdom, and we would want to be bold like Peter. However, our natural life is not adequate. Here in chapter twenty-six we see a natural Peter, but in Acts 2, 3, and 4 we see a resurrected Peter. Following the Lord Jesus on the pathway for the kingdom can only be done in the life of resurrection.
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