The Folly of Self-Assurance

Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Peter answered him, ‘Though they all fall away.., I will never fall away.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’ Then Jesus went with them to Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’  And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he.. said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful; remain here, and watch with me.’ And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ 

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you mean.’ And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ And again he denied it with an oath: ‘I do not know the man.’ After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.’ And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:31,33-38,40-41,69-75

Peter knew he was no betrayer, as Jesus had just announced (of Judas) at the Passover, and he was adamant he would never deny his Lord. He was zealous, committed to the One he had left everything to follow three years before. After all, he was in Jesus’s inner circle, privy to the transfiguration, and this night, to His prayer in Gethsemane. (Matthew 4:18-20; 17:1-8)

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As it was, Peter’s bold impulsiveness was ‘open mouth-exchange foot.’ His confidence was in his determination, and Jesus, Who knew his heart as well as his flesh, warned him about relying on his will alone. Promising instead of praying, dozing instead of watching, are a poor substitute for vigilance in resisting temptation. Peter closed his eyes not only in sleep, but to the danger of his self-assurance, and he blatantly denied his Lord.

When do I gloat, ‘I can handle it, I can resist this time,’ then relax in false confidence that has no spiritual tethering or fortitude? Am I playing light with my tongue, unhealthy relationships, expenditures, emotions? When we do fall, our Savior offers grace and redeems us, as He did Peter, to full assurance in Him. (2 Peter 1:1-4)

My unchanging Strength and Salvation, I cannot be sure of myself, but only of You. May I not lean on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledge and rely on you. (Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 12:2)

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