“Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.”
At Gethsemane, the angry crowd “seized Jesus and arrested Him.” (Matthew 26:50) Jesus, fully expecting the mob to come, did not put up a fight. In fact, Jesus said this had happened so that “the Scriptures would be fulfilled.” (Matthew 26:54) At His arrest, “all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” No one was closer to Jesus than His disciples. If anyone should have stood with Him, it should have been one of them. They had seen and been a part of more miracles than anyone else, but they caved in. They forsook Him. They fled. They left Jesus alone.
Soon Peter would deny Christ three times. It is easy to criticize Peter for his outright denial, but there were others who were not even close enough to the scene to disavow knowledge of Him. Matthew’s Gospel tells us, “Peter followed Him at a distance.” Tricia McCary offers an insightful reflection on this scene:
“We often think of Peter as the one who betrayed Christ, but in reality, he was one of the few who stayed near Him after the arrest. What might have been his thoughts, feelings, and fears as he followed at a distance? Place yourself in the courtyard that night. See yourself being asked about your relationship to Christ. How would it feel to deny Him as Peter did? Do you at times deny Him by your life? By your words or lack of words?
“Jesus was neither surprised nor discouraged at Peter’s failures – He knew it would happen. In fact, after His resurrection, it seems He may have sought out Peter. Their conversation is not recorded – just the fact that it took place. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) Imagine those moments together. If it were you, what would you want to say? What would you want to do?
“Consider your own weaknesses, failures, and sin. Christ is not surprised or discouraged. Come to Him today and receive His love and forgiveness, and pour out your heart in love. Write a prayer of response.”
Prayer: “Oh, Lord, how often I follow You at a distance. The cost of staying by Your side at times seems too great. I have denied You – maybe not with words, but in a thousand deeds of disobedience. I need to see Your eyes of love across the courtyard of my life, but too often I find myself running away, tears of regret coursing through my days. Seek me out, Lord – draw me to Your side with the lovingkindness I sorely crave.”[i]