“Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’” (Mark 14: 29)
That’s a bold statement. You’d have to be pretty confident in yourself to say that no matter what happened, the only person to stay faithful is you.
Peter was determined though.
When Jesus responded saying that all of the disciples, including Peter, would turn away from him, Peter reaffirms his statement. Telling Jesus emphatically “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Mark 14: 31)
Cue ominous music.
We all know what happened: Jesus was right and Peter denied him. But I have to wonder – what would have happened if Peter had listened to Jesus? If Peter had been more interested in listening to what Jesus was saying than proving his loyalty, would Peter have remained loyal? Would being aware of his weakness allow him to overcome it?
There’s no way to know, obviously. But reading about this incident forces me think about the role pride plays in my own life. When I feel pride I don’t want to admit I’m wrong. I become invested in protecting my definition of reality. And often that means I’m not prepared to handle dramatic change.
I bet Peter wasn’t much different.
And lets face it, Jesus’ arrest was something Peter didn’t expect. He never dreamed that Jesus would be lead away without a fight. He never dreamed Jesus wouldn’t use his powers to protect himself. It must have been crushing to Peter to see Jesus give up “so easily.”
If he was filled with pride before, his emotions must have been raging. He must have felt the fear that comes when we believe our world is being destroyed. But more than that, he must have felt shame. Shame at believing in someone who wouldn’t (or perhaps it crossed his mind – couldn’t – save himself.)
It’s no wonder Peter denied Jesus.
Peter was so intent on following his pride that he couldn’t hear Jesus’ warning. Even though Jesus told all the disciples that he was about to die for them, they simply refused to believe it. Their pride kept them from the truth.
Sometimes we think God takes pleasure in hiding the truth from us. But I have to wonder, how often does he tell us what’s going to happen, and we respond saying, “that’s nice God, but let me tell you what’s really going on.”
How many things would be different in my life if I simply listened when God spoke, instead of trying to explain to God why he was wrong?