The Fulfilment of All that Jesus had Spoken
Text: Matthew 26 : 57- 75
Jesus had warned His disciples that one of them would betray Him, and one did. Judas turned out to be the traitor (Cf. Matthew 26:21-25, 47-49). He also warned them that all of them would forsake Him, and that too was fulfilled (Cf. Matthew 26:31, 56). Matthew noted also that the prediction that Peter would deny Jesus was fulfilled.
THE PURPOSE OF RECORDING THE FAILURE OF THE DISCIPLES
Matthew did not write the account of Peter to put him down. There were lessons to be learned.
1. The authority and power of the Word of Jesus
Matthew’s purpose was to highlight the significance of the power and authority of Jesus. Nobody else possessed that power.
2. When we fail to heed the words of Jesus
Let us look at the series of things that Jesus said to His disciples that went unheeded.
a) Peter and his fellow disciples refused to believe that they would forsake Him (Matthew 26:34-35).
b) The disciples believed in their own strength of faith and loyalty to Jesus (Matthew 26:34-35)
c) They were to “watch and pray” lest they entered into temptation. They failed to do that (Matthew 26:41-43). Their eyes were too heavy to stay awake.
These were some of the obvious lessons that Matthew must have felt that all must learn. These problems continue to plague believers today.
THE DENIAL OF PETER
Peter’s denial of Jesus was carefully recorded by Matthew. In a number of ways, Matthew sought also to describe the fact that this disciple truly loved Jesus. Peter found the courage to follow Jesus to the house of Caiaphas.
“But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s
courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.
Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came
to him, saying, ‘You also were with Jesus in Galilee.’
But he denied it before them all, saying,
‘I do not know what you are saying.’
And when he had gone out of the gateway, another girl saw him
and said to those who were there,
‘This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.’
But again he denied with an oath, ‘I do not know the Man!’
And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter,
‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.’
Then he began to curse and swear, saying,
‘I do not know the Man!’
Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered
the word of Jesus who had said to him,
‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'”
MATTHEW 26:58, 69-75
We are all too aware of our own weaknesses and faults to launch a full-scale attack against Peter for his denial of Jesus. Let us instead consider the lessons we may learn from him.
1. A more realistic appraisal of real spiritual strength
Peter was so sure of his strength of commitment. His perceived strength was not equal to the actual strength that he possessed. From time to time, Jesus evaluated the spiritual strength of His disciples. He kept urging them to cultivate their strength through a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures, through prayer etc…but those words were not as deeply understood or appreciated.
2. A humble comprehension of the deep-seated weakness within
We are struck by the fact that Peter resorted to vulgarity even as remarks and taunts were hurled at him. He swore and cursed even as he replied those who questioned him. He must have known quite a few choice curses in his time, before he became a disciple of Jesus. He had changed a lot since he had become a disciple, but the fact remained that he had not been totally transformed. There were areas of deep-seated weaknesses within him that surfaced under intense pressure.
3. The lack of cultivation of spiritual disciplines
Jesus had taught His disciples, by both precept and example, how they must practise spiritual disciplines. Somehow, he and his fellow-disciples had failed to comply. They lacked the strength that could have been theirs because their prayer-life was poorly developed. The lack of full comprehension of the Scriptures also told on them. If only they had paid even greater attention to cultivating the spiritual disciplines that Jesus taught them, they would have fared better!
A REDEEMING FACTOR
The synoptist Luke noted an important redeeming factor in the following text.
“So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”
He remembered what Jesus said…finally. And He wept his heart out.