Michael D. O'Brien StudiObrien
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters; for it is
“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.”
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though all become deserters, I will not.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ But he said vehemently, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all o fthem said the same.
Oh that Peter! Never forget what Peter's role is in the Gospels – he says what the others are thinking. Even more so – Peter represents us.
Peter was in trouble even before he denied Jesus. Actually he is already denying Jesus. Jesus says they will all betray him. Peter denies that Jesus knows what he is talking about. Peter always thinks he knows better than Jesus. He knows Jesus should stop talking about suffering and dying. He knows Jesus shouldn't be washing his feet. He knows that Jesus is wrong about him.
"Listen Jesus, I'm better than you think. I'm better than everyone else. THEY might all desert you but I won't"
And therein lays the sin of Peter. The sin of all of us. Thinking we are better than God gives us credit for. Thinking we are better than everyone else. Everyone else may let you down, God, but not me. You can count on me. Never mind that you just TOLD me that you can't count on me…I am better than that.
And in trying to convince God that we are so much better than God is giving us credit for, we miss the grace that is being offered to us. But Peter is so caught up in justifying himself -he misses that important promise "When I am raised up"! What Jesus is TRYING to tell the disciples if Peter hadn’t interrupted him is that they are all going to run away and abandon Jesus but that it’s still going to be alright. Even that abandonment is part of the plan. Jesus is going to experience the depth of human loneliness as all his friends cut out on him. It is all part of Jesus' task to submit to the evil he will defeat. Jesus will defeat the evil that causes us such fear that we abandon our friends and forget our promises.
Peter had to learn to accept grace the hard way. The evangelist tells his story so that it may be easier for us to receive God's grace.