Throughout God’s Word the Lord is described as your Shepherd and you are described as His sheep. Sheep are known to wander off the path and away from the flock. The Shepherd often must protect His sheep from the wolves, traps, thieves, and other dangers. Sheep will often scatter and run away and get lost when there is a storm, and become confused. They become overwhelmed by the circumstances and panic. When the storm is over the Shepherd will go and find the lost sheep and bring Him back.
Something similar is about to happen to the disciples. Something similar happens to you and me as followers of Jesus. As the Lord’s sheep we often fall away and wander off the path God wants us to stay on. We become frightened, confused, or angry at what is happening around us or to us and it causes us to fall away. However, like a good shepherd He restores us, reconciles us, comforts us, strengthens us, and refocuses us. We see all this in Mark 14:27-31.
On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” 30 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same. (Mark 14:27-31, NLT)
From this we see three things that every follower of Jesus needs to know. Three things about the Lord being your Shepherd and you being His sheep. We will look at two of them today.
Your Shepherd lovingly knows you
Number one, your Shepherd lovingly knows you. He knows your weaknesses. He knows the sins you struggle with. He knows how much pressure you can take before you give in. He knows every good thing, bad thing, and evil thing about you. Even though He knows all this about you, He still loves you.
Take a look at verse 27 which says, On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’” A couple of weeks ago we look at this one verse in detail and focused on what it means to desert Jesus and what that means regarding your relationship and fellowship with Him.
Jesus told His disciples that all of them would desert Him. The word desert comes from a Greek word (skandalizo) that means to fall into a trap, to come to one’s end, to cause to stumble or to cause to fall. It has the idea of falling due to circumstances and pressure. This type of desertion is not due to rebellion, but due to weakness. It’s like walking through the woods at night and you step into a trap. You didn’t want to step into the trap, but due to your weakness or inability to see at night you stepped into the trap. This type of desertion is not intentional. It’s like going on a hike but you didn’t see the root sticking up out of the ground on the trail and you tripped and fell. Again, you didn’t want to fall, but due to your weakness you tripped and fell.
Jesus is saying that He knows they all are going to be under great pressure over the next few hours and they are NOT going to be able to withstand it. The fear of being arrested. The confusion of watching Jesus crucified and dying on the cross will be to much for them and they will fall away and desert Jesus for a while.
This falling away and desertion by the disciples does not surprise Jesus. Because of His omniscience and because of God’s Word He knew they would fall away. Here is my point. Even though Jesus knew this about them, He still loved them, accepted them, and would not give up on them. Jesus knows them better than they know themselves and He still loves them and is committed to them. As their loving shepherd, He knows them.
The same is true for you as a follower of Jesus. He knows there are times you are going to desert Him because of your own weaknesses. There are going to be situations you find yourself in where you are not emotionally mature enough, you are not wise enough, and you are not spiritually aware enough to make the right decision or react correctly. Because of these weaknesses you will fall away. You will desert Jesus. The good news is, your loving shepherd knows you are going to stumble and fall, but He will still be there to pick you up, guide you, and lead you as your Shepherd. If you are that one sheep that wanders off, Jesus is that good Shepherd that goes after you.
Psalm 23 is known as The Shepherd’s Psalm because it begins with the phrase, “The Lord is my shepherd…” (vs. 1, NLT). But in the last verse we are told, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life” (vs. 6, NLT). As a follower of Jesus there are going to be times you will feel disappointed with God. He allowed something you think He should have stopped, or He stopped something you think He should have allowed. He didn’t answer your prayer the way you had hoped, or He doesn’t seem to really care. Because of the pressures of life, you fall away. You quit talking to Him, you stop reading the Bible, you stop going to church. When you desert Jesus, the Bible is clear His goodness and unfailing love will continue to pursue you all your life. Listen carefully, God does not love you because you are good. He loves you because He is good. He knows you are a sheep, and you are going to struggle and be afraid when you walk through the valley of death. Your Shepherd lovingly knows you.
Your Shepherd graciously speaks to you
Number two, your Shepherd graciously speaks to you. Jesus just told the disciples they would desert Him and fall away and then Jesus backs up His claim with scripture that prophesied what they would do. Beginning in verse 29 we are told Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” One thing I like about Peter is you know exactly what he is thinking and how he feels about it, because he is going to let you know.
However, from that statement by Peter we see the results of spiritual pride. Let me show you.
First, spiritual pride thinks it knows more than God. When you are prideful you believe you know more than God. Peter just told Jesus He was wrong. Jesus just told them that God’s Word says they would all abandon Him. Basically, Peter’s response was, “I don’t care what the Bible says I’m not going to be that guy. Jesus, you are wrong!” Imagine telling God that He was mistaken and didn’t know what He was talking about. Unknowingly and unintentionally, by telling Jesus that he would never desert Him, Peter is determined to prove Jesus as a false prophet.
Here is where we have to be careful, because it’s hard to see this in ourselves. God talks to you through His Word, through a sermon, a worship song, or someone’s testimony and you think that is true about someone else, but not you. What happens is, instead of examining yourself in light of what God says you evaluate others in light of what God says. There are times you will need to evaluate other’s actions based on God’s Word, but spiritual pride will rarely examine itself.
Second, spiritual pride causes you to look to self rather than Scripture. When Jesus told the disciples they would desert Him He quoted from Zechariah 13:7. Again, listen very carefully. Jesus is telling the disciples the reason He knows that every one of the disciples, including Peter, will desert Him is because the Bible says so. Instead of taking what Jesus said to heart and asking how can this be true of me? Why would I abandon Jesus? Is there any way out from this? What does this mean regarding our relationship? Instead of thoughtfully wrestling with what Jesus said, Peter immediately rejects the idea and denies emphatically. His response was based on His experiences and emotions, not God’s truth, not what God said. He ignored God’s Word on this and based what he believed would happen on himself – his experiences in the past and how he felt toward Jesus at this moment. Peter loved Jesus, but his pride was blinding him to truly hearing what God’s Word was saying to him and about him.
As followers of Jesus, the same is true for us. Your spiritual pride can keep you from hearing what God is actually saying and seeing what God is actually doing.
- We will hear something like Ephesians 2:1, “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world” (vs. 1-2, NLT). For some followers of Jesus, they hear that and think, “That may be true for others, but that’s not true for me. I wasn’t really that bad. I wasn’t perfect but I wasn’t obeying the devil.” This is similar to what Peter was saying to Jesus.
- We do something similar when the Bible calls something a sin and we think, “No, I don’t really think that is a sin and if it is, its not that big a deal.” We immediately reject the idea.
- We do something similar when God’s Word says something about marriage, relationships, parenting, or finances and we think, “No, I don’t think that’s how it really works.” We immediately reject the idea.
- We do something similar when God’s Word says something about heaven, hell, life, death, angels, devil, or creation and we think, “No, I don’t think that is true.”
Spiritual pride causes us to not take God’s Word serious enough. We write it off, before we actually think through it deeply. Pride causes us to look at ourselves and think it’s not true for us.
Third, spiritual pride thinks it loves God more than others. Peter says, Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will. Peter’s statement implied that he loved Jesus more than the other disciples. This statement by Peter could be taken as an insult by the other disciples. I can hear Peter thinking, “Even if everyone else deserts you – cause I’ve lived with them for three years and I have seen and heard their weaknesses and doubts and lack of faith and understanding. I can see where all of them might desert you – but not me.” This statement could imply that Peter wouldn’t be surprised if the other disciples fell away, and it could also imply that Peter expects them desert Jesus at some point. At any rate, Peter does not defend their cause or commitment to Jesus. What he staunchly defends is his cause and commitment by saying, I never will. Peter sees himself as the exception to the rule; where others fall, he will stand! Pride does that, it causes you to think you are the exception and immune to this particular sin or weakness or stumbling.
Fourth, spiritual pride thinks it has no weaknesses. As they walked toward Gethsemane, Peter’s stubborn pride refused to acknowledge the possibility of any weaknesses. Peter saw himself as strong, stable, and unbeatable. He saw himself as someone who loved Jesus with all his heart. Besides, what kind of man did Jesus think Peter was anyway? Maybe Matthew or Thomas or John or all the others would flee, but not him! He was Peter – as solid as a rock. Others might stumble, but not him. Peter said so! But the Lord knew the Scripture better than Peter and the Lord knew Peter better than Peter.
I do believe that Peter’s declaration about himself was emotionally honest, but it was extremely ignorant. Peter did love Jesus. He was committed to Jesus, but he was also very weak.
We are going to need to end it here and pick up here next time. So here is what we’ve got.
Your Shepherd lovingly knows you. He knows your strengths and weaknesses. This is a good thing. He knows how much pressure you can handle and when you stumble because of your weakness He can help you get back up. As a parent, I don’t get mad at my kids when they stumble and fall. Neither does your heavenly Father. You are His child, and He will help you get back up and keep walking. He knows you. He loves you.
Your Shepherd graciously speaks to you. When Jesus told them they would desert Him, I’m sure that hurt. They didn’t want to hear that, but they needed to. There are things in the Bible that are true, some of it will sting, some of it will hurt. You will not want to believe it. You will want to deny it. However, God graciously speaks to you His truth. He is going to tell you the truth about you as a wife, as a husband, as a father, as a woman, and as a man. God not only tells us about heaven, but He also tells us about hell. He graciously does that.