Mark 14:27-31 Falling Away

 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered.’[d]

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[e] you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Falling Away

I don’t think a person can lose their salvation, but I do think a person can fall away in a couple of different ways.  I do not think that a true follower of Jesus can fall away and be happy they have done so.  There is a discomfort and a chill in knowing Jesus and then living as though he did not exist.  It is just a principle of relationship.  To deny that you know someone who you have claimed to love is not a comfortable place to be.  If you have let the relationship slip in importance, you constantly know that you need to address the condition of that relationship and I believe someone who truly belongs to Jesus may have a season of estrangement, but it could never be permanent.  The second way for a person to fall away, is for the facade of a false relationship to fall away.  We can see all the time people who claimed to have ‘been’ Christian because they prayed a prayer at some point in childhood live now as though Jesus does not exist.  Such people do not have a prick on their conscience because the truth is that they never really had anything qualifying as a daily relationship with Jesus at all.  They had Jesus as an idea or they accepted Jesus so that he would grant them all the things that they wanted in life.  Jesus was never meant to come cap in hand to us, or to serve as merely an idea.  It is easy for relationships based in selfish ends and false relationships just to melt away like the morning mist in the rising sun.

Despite their many protestations of friendship, the disciples’ relationship had not been sealed by the Spirit.  They had a misguided view of Jesus and still believed him to be a revolutionary king who would serve each of their needs.  Some would fight for Jesus for a moment in the Garden of Gethsemane, but ultimately no-one was yet connected to Jesus with a cord that could not be cut or taken away.  It would take the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit to create martyrs.  Each of us does not know how we would fare in the ultimate test.  Would our faith be shown as a shallow affair or would it be shown to be deep and enduring?  We should pray that we would have the faith to endure persecution and hardship for the sake of our relationship with Jesus, but the surest defence against deserting Jesus is to embrace him with a deeper and searching understanding; to submit to him with a selfless obedience and a self-denying devotion.  Then, like any lover whose love demands the ultimate sacrifice, we may have the strength of relationship required to give our all.

Prayer

I can’t say that if all fell away on account of you I would be there.  There are uncomfortable times when I have lived as though I didn’t know you.  I didn’t know how to develop a relationship that would endure because I did not know how to develop a relationship at all.  Now I pray that you would not let me go.  I pray that you would not let me be one who falls away in times of trial.  May my faith be cultivated so that it is eternal.

Questions

  1. What does Jesus claim will happen after this moment in the story?
  2. What do all the disciples claim?
  3. Why do suffering disciples of Jesus in the first century need to hear these words?
  4. Have you see sincere followers of Jesus struggle in times of trial?  How did they endure?
  5. How can you cultivate a relationship that has a chance to endure the worst hardships?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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3 Responses to Mark 14:27-31 Falling Away

  1. kevin w. says:

    Jesus claims that He will be “struck” and His disciples would abandon Him. However, Jesus also predicts His resurrection and says that He would go ahead of them to Galilee, seeming to indicate that their abandonment would only be temporary. The disciples all claim that they will not abandon Jesus.
    Jesus’ disciples would be tested, persecuted, and many would face death. The veracity of these words would reverberate through their minds for the rest of their lives. Their failure to love Christ more than their lives stands in sharp contrast to Jesus’ anticipation to go ahead of them once more after dying for them. This depth of love coupled with their failure would probably be extremely motivating to persevere in the faith even unto death.
    I have seen many believers struggle through trials. I think one of the ways people get through the hard times in life is by keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus and the hope they have in Him.
    In order for any relationship to endure hardship there needs to be invested time, trust, and love. Spending time in prayer and seeking to know God through His word, living a life in the shadow of the cross…these are some of the key things which I do in my relationship with Jesus.

  2. Eric Wildermuth says:

    Jesus tells his disciples that they will fall away when he is taken (“the shepherd will be struck…”). Peter speaking for the rest, emphatically claims that he will do no such thing–he will even DIE for Jesus.
    If I were suffering under persecution and saw that Peter and the Apostles had failed in their dramatic claims of faith for Jesus before His resurrection, I would feel better knowing that I, a normal Christian 1) Had Jesus going before me and 2) that any fear I had was normal, yet conquerable through Christ. My mother in particular, at her father’s death persevered well through much prayer, tears, fellowship and eventually, the hope that she would see her father in Heaven (he accepted Christ 2 months prior to his death). Others, in even more grotesque situations endured through community and the power of the Holy Spirit (Peter and James (?) before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4).
    Quality time, to borrow a term from The 5 Love Languages, is the best way to get to know someone–to build relationship with them. Openness and honesty also. If I were to be reserved with Jesus and not fully honest, there would be no conflict (namely between him and my flesh) and there seems to be something special that develops after a relationship encounters conflict–problem solving becomes easier communication more effective.
    I pray that I cultivate a relationship with Christ and receive grace enough to suffer and not fall away.

  3. Christina Zezulak says:

    Jesus claims that all his disciples will fall away once He is stricken, but that will change once He has risen. All of Jesus’ disciples claim that they would not disown Him. I think that suffering disciples need to hear these words because it reminds them that God is all-knowing, even our failures and shortcomings, but yet He still uses us for His glory. I have seen sincere followers of Jesus struggle in times of trial. They endure by humbly praying about the fact that they are unable to endure in their own strength, and by God’s grace they are able to continue to fix their gaze on Him. Cultivating a relationship that endures the worst of hardships depends on the foundation of what it is built on. I believe that by expecting the trials to come, but knowing that He is worth it all and more, and clinging to Him in all moments… good or bad… is one of the main ways to endure for Christ. Of course, this is impossible without God’s grace in these moments. That’s when the prayer of humility comes and admits that we fail without the power of the Holy Spirit.

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