Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

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 of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”

34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

And so said all the disciples. — Matthew 26:31-35.

Jesus tells the disciples that they will stumble and be scattered that night because of Him, but that He will rise again and go before them to Galilee. Facing the solemnity of Christ’s coming cross, and the wonder of His resurrection, Peter says that he will never stumble, even though all the others do. Perhaps Peter did not comprehend the enormity of the trial and tribulation before Jesus and them. Jesus tells him that before the rooster crows, he will deny Him three times. Peter protests that he will die rather than deny Christ. The other disciples say the same thing. The disciples did not even know what they were saying!

“You will be made to stumble” (“all fall away” — NIV, ESV, BSB, BCB, NASB, NETB; and “all run away” — HCSB) (v.31) — This states clearly that Jesus’ disciples will abandon Him in His hour of need (cf. Matt. 26:56.). Only John stayed with Him and Peter followed at a distance. The rest fled!

“for it is written” — This is a quote from Zechariah 13:7. It is interesting that the first eight chapters of Zechariah are quoted often in the book of the Revelation, while the last six are often quoted in the Gospel accounts. It is YHWH who strikes the Shepherd (cf. Isaiah 53:6,10; Romans 8:32). This was always God’s plan of redemption (cf. Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29).

“sheep” — Sheep became the animal metaphor used for the followers of Christ.

“after I have been raised” (v.32) – After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

“I will go before you to Galilee” — This post-resurrection meeting is mentioned several times (cf. Matt. 26:32; 28:7,10,16-20; 1 Cor. 15:6; and John 21). This should have been a great encouragement to the disciples, but they apparently did not understand.

“Even if all are made to stumble” (v.33) — Peter’s presumption is clearly seen. This is much like Matthew 16:22-23, where Peter denies the Lord’s prediction.

“Assuredly, I say to you” (v.34) — Jesus used this term uniquely to begin significant statements. Some versions have “truly” and meant “surely”. It originally meant “to be firm,” but came to mean “I agree” or “I affirm.”

“the rooster crows” — This occurred between 12:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. It must have been a Roman rooster because the Jews did not allow them in the holy city.

“I will not deny You!” (v.35) — Peter says that even if he were to die with Jesus, he won’t deny Jesus! So said the other disciples. They were ignorant of what lay before them.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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