Jesus and His friends had just finished eating Passover supper, where Jesus revealed to them that Judas would betray Him.  I wonder at the thoughts that ran through the minds of the eleven, perhaps looking at Judas in horror and judgment, saying to themselves they would never do that.

Jesus then used the bread and the cup to remind them again that He was about to give up His body and His blood as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  He looked into their eyes and urged them “…do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

“When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mount of Olives

Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’ (Zechariah 13:7)

Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’

‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’

But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.

Matthew 26:31-35

They stood at the Mount of Olives – a mountain ridge that held not only olive groves, but cemeteries, as well.  Surely there the gravity of the circumstances would sink into their hearts.  And suddenly He was telling them that not only would Judas betray them, but the rest of them would, too.

The disciples’ response to Him showed they still trusted in themselves over Jesus and over the prophecy laid out in God’s Word.  It was this thinking – their pride, their self-sufficiency, their leaning on their own understanding – that led them to fall away.

They had allowed the seeds of pride sin to be planted in their minds and they were budding.  Soon they would see how watering those seeds with pride and fear would quickly grow them into weeds that were out of control.

Never say, “I would never do that…” Never judge another person’s actions and say “I would never…”

The Lord knows what we are capable of.  He warns us today the way He warned his friends that night. He tells us to “Be alert. Be watchful. Be prayerful. Be humble.  Be sober in your thinking of yourselves.”

If we haven’t done or said something that shocked us then we haven’t yet faced the kind of overwhelming fear that could lead us to betraying Christ.

But times are changing fast. It should come as no surprise to anyone that conditions are becoming more and more hostile toward Believers.  What are we willing to give up to follow Christ?  Our friends? Our family? Our reputations? Our livelihood?  Our freedom?

We have yet to face anywhere near the kind of pressure the disciples faced on the night they ran and hid and denied ever knowing Christ.

They all meant what they said that night as they stood among the olive trees, burial caves and tombstones, but in just 24 hours they would come to find out just how shallow and immature their faith still was.

But faith grows in the face of trouble.

Of course Jesus knew who and what they were, that they were still spiritual babes.  He would give them another chance to heed His warning, as God’s mercy often does.  He would lead them to the garden, taking Peter, James and John even closer.

Grow closer, my friends.  Don’t wait until the enemy makes it personal…makes you choose.  Choose Him now.  Be resolute to walk with Him all the way to the cross.

Tomorrow: The Garden