John 13:36-38; 18:15-18,25-27 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. Previously Jesus had announced that there was a traitor among them. Now what startling announcement does He make? Why will this happen? See Mark 14:27 (printed below)

Jesus said to them, All of you will desert me, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered. (Mark 14:27)

Jesus now announces that all His disciples will desert Him; not one of them will remain faithful to Him and stand with Him in His hour of trial. This will happen in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah 13:7. In other words, this will not come as a surprise; on the contrary, it was foreknown by God and was part of His purpose for the Messiah, part of His sufferings.

2. Following this announcement, what promise does Jesus make to His disciples? See Mark 14:28 (printed below) What does this tell us about Jesus?

However, after I have risen, I will go before you into Galilee. (Mark 14:28)

In Mark 14:28 Jesus promises that, following His resurrection, He and His disciples will be re-united in Galilee. Here is a testimony to the loving graciousness of the Lord Jesus. Although His disciples will forsake Him, He, nevertheless, will not forsake them. On the contrary, He will forgive them and restore their fellowship.

3. How does Peter respond to Jesus’ startling announcement? See John 13:37b and Mark 14:29-31 (printed below) What does this tell us about Peter?

Peter asked, Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you. (John 13:37)

But Peter said to him, Although all the others may desert you, I will not. (30) Jesus said to him, I tell you the truth, today—this very night—before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. (31) But he insisted vehemently, Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you. And all the others said the same. (Mark 14:29-31)

Peter adamantly insists that even if all the other disciples desert their Lord, he will not. Peter’s response testifies to his love for Jesus as well as his determination to remain faithful no matter what he may encounter.

4. When Peter actually has the opportunity to confess his allegiance to Christ, what does he do? See John 18:17-18,25-27 (printed below)

The maid who kept watch at the door said to Peter, Are you also one of this man’s disciples? He replied, I am not. (18) It was cold; and the servants and officers were standing around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself…(25) As Simon Peter stood by the fire warming himself, they asked him, Are you also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. (26) One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, Did I not see you in the grove with him? (27) Peter denied it again. (John 18:17-18,25-27)

Three times Peter is given the opportunity to confess his allegiance to Christ and each time he fails. According to Mark’s gospel, on the third occasion Peter even refuses to utter Jesus’ name, invoking a curse upon himself he declares, “I do not know the man of whom you speak.” (Mark 14:71)

5. What accounts for Peter’s failure to carry out his promise to be faithful to his Lord?

The attitude we see exemplified in Peter is that of self-confidence. Peter was sincere, but he made two very common and vital mistakes. He overestimated his own ability to stand faithful for Christ in the hour of trial and he underestimated the awful powers aligned against him in the hour of trial. If, like Peter, we rely upon ourselves when confronted with temptation, it will inevitably result in failure. Because of the assorted pressures brought to bear against us in the hour of trial or temptation, we must trust in Christ and rely upon Him if we are to successfully combat temptation.