As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 14:27-52
Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
One of the greatest dangers, as well as the most imperceptible of sins, is that of pride. Pride is sneaky, and its manifestations often remain hidden to ourselves while remaining more apparent to others. No one thinks they are proud in a vicious way until they are either humbled or suddenly struck by how their words or actions have caused another harm. The aphorism “Pride precedes a fall” is derived from Proverbs 16:18, and while this saying is not a direct quotation of Scripture, it does contain a truth. When we become proud, we are in danger of a misstep, a stumble.
During his final meal, a Passover celebration that Jesus imbued with new meaning, Jesus announces that one of his disciples will betray him. The identity of the betrayer is not obvious to the disciples, though it is known to us. At the conclusion of the meal, the group sings a hymn (a customary conclusion to the Passover, likely a Psalm), and they rise to go to the Mount of Olives.
While they are on the way, Jesus tells the disciples that they will all fall away. No one will remain with him; he will stand alone. Jesus quotes Zechariah 13:17, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” The coming ordeal will be too much for the disciples to endure. But Jesus assures them that he will rise and meet them again in Galilee.
At this moment, Peter says, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” What is Peter saying? He does not speak for the group. He does not say, “Jesus, we’re with you until the end.” Rather, he says, “I am with you until the end. I am the top disciple, a member of your inner circle, and your number one man. I am the one who recognized you as Messiah. I will not fall away. These? They may fall away; I will not. I’ll never disown you. I’ll die with you, if I must.”
The other disciples echo Peter and make similar declarations. But Peter spoke first. He set the tone. Peter did have grounds for this declaration of allegiance. Peter was among the first disciples Jesus called. He had been with him from the beginning. He had seen the signs, miracles and listened carefully to Jesus. He had been an example, a spokesman for the group.
Jesus answers him prophetically, “today--yes, tonight--before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” And it comes to pass. Not only does Peter deny Jesus, he disowns him, a threefold renunciation.
When we study the Scriptures, one wise question to ask of the text is this: “Is there an example to follow or avoid?” In this instance, Peter gives us an example to avoid. Peter was one of Jesus’ closest companions and observed his life closely. But he was susceptible to a fall. So are we.
Peter learned this lesson. In 1 Peter 5:5b-6, he writes “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
Humble yourself. Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought, and do not think more lowly of yourself than you should, either. Trust God to guide you, lead you, and give you the grace you need to do God’s will. But be watchful, be self-aware; do not become proud.
Think of yourself as God thinks of you. Human, susceptible to sin, vulnerable, broken. But redeemed, bought with the blood of Jesus, and being sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit, a child of the Father, a co-heir with Christ.
Father, help me to know you more fully so that I might understand myself more clearly. Keep me from pride, and grow me in humility so that I might become a true servant of all people. Keep me free from sin, but when I do sin, lead me to repentance, so that I might renew my fellowship and walk in faithfulness with you. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.