The Lord of truth is a shield and armor. [Psa 91:4]
Text: Mark 14:26–31
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” But Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.
Satan wanted to sift them like wheat [Luk 22:31], but the Lord prayed for them that their faith should not fail. He Himself was strengthened by Scripture and thereby He was their strength. The word of the prophet: “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zec 13:7), shines before the Lord like a star in the night. It must happen this way: He is captured, and the disciples are made to stumble. This is the hard way, but right way He should walk for the world’s salvation. With these prophetic words the Lord here puts the devil to shame. He wants to sift Peter and the others, that they might fall and succumb, but he is allowed to sift them only so that they may be cleansed. For Jesus not only dies, but rises again and gathers them again, and this He can tell them even now by comfort of the Scriptures, so they are strengthened and keep the spark of faith during the hard trial.
Indeed both Peter and the others are completely incapable of defending themselves against Satan! Peter loved the Lord and knew with his own heart that he had this love. But he did not know how deceitful his heart was, and how dangerous was the carnal security which he had in his own love. Nor did he know what hard times the Lord would face and what sifting by Satan he himself would face. “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” he said. Peter, how little you know what the Lord would face! Die with Him? Enter into that death which He would taste? No, no one should, no one could. Not even Peter after Pentecost could do it, much less Peter as he was here! But did he speak in lying and rashness? Far from it! He meant it with complete sincerity. But in the most compelling way his example warns us against all self-confidence and admonishes us most seriously to handle things with fear and trembling and to put all our trust only in the Lord’s gracious care.
No one can stand by his own power in any temptation. If the Lord does not hold us up, we sink straightaway into unbelief and denial. But His faithfulness is inexpressibly great. In the midst of His dying agony and deepest distress He holds His hand over His self-willed disciples and shields them. My enemies “pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation… The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly” (Psa 118:13,14,16).
O Lord Jesus! Let me always be found among Your own, and strengthen me, so that I never again deny You out of shame or fear or unbelief. Amen.
O watch and pray, My soul, the way
Of safety lies before thee;
Lest thou shouldst be led astray,
And the foe come o’er thee.
Use thou the Word Of God, thy Lord;
All else is unavailing;
Every thought and passion guard
With this shield unfailing.
O make thy choice The Spirit’s voice
When He comes to remind thee;
Then shall peace thine heart rejoice,
Satan get behind thee.
Brorson: L 268:1-3 ELH 516:1-3 tr. G. A. T. Rygh;
tune: O Traurigkeit