"But Peter said to Him, 'Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.' Jesus said to him, 'Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'” Matthew 26:33-34
Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to be experiencing his last night before being hung on a cruel cross and dying. Spending time with his inner circle, he had just partaken of what we know as the Last Supper and informed them that one of them would betray him. Subsequent to this, however, he told them that they would all fall away (or stumble). He quoted Zachariah 13:7 which states, "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." We all know that it was Judas that betrayed the Lord but what of those who stumbled? What does it even mean to stumble? And why was Peter pointed out in particular?
The simple truth is that most of us avoid trouble at all costs. Jesus was considered to be and treated as a criminal and the apostles were his closest associates. On that same night, while in the company of some of them, he was arrested, beaten and taken to trial. That is most certainly trouble. As it was predicted, the apostles, with the exception of John, all scattered. Peter in particular followed Jesus to the trials at some distance but did in fact deny him three times when people recognized that he had been one who walked with Jesus. It is also known that the apostles did not busy themselves carrying out the training and mission they had received but instead hid, returning to their prior vocation as fishermen. This is stumbling.
Beloved, we must ask ourselves if we ever stumble in our faith and purpose. Though Jesus is no longer physically being dragged through the streets and falsely accused, his cause is still under indictment by some. When atheists attempt to legislate the Lord out of our lives, do we make our voices heard? When we are attacked for our stance on God ordained relationships do we hide and cower? When Satan tempts us personally do we give in or tell him to go away? The potential to stumble most surely continues to exist among the followers of the Lord. Even the most ardent, such as Peter, can find themselves out of position. We therefore must guard against the impulse to flee the one who left heaven to seek and save us. Let us not stumble but let us keep our feet.