26When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” 30Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.
They sing a hymn – probably a Psalm that would have been typically sung as a part of the Passover – and then they leave the Upper Room, and in the darkness, they go across the valley to the Mount of Olives. Jesus tells them that they will all desert him. Notice a sentence here that we look over, but will be important at the ending of Mark, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Peter, however, does not understand the meaning of this sentence, and so, responds to Jesus’ prediction that all will fall away and become deserters, saying, the rest might desert Jesus, but he would not, even to the death. Jesus, however, knows what is coming, and he tells Peter – “before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Peter will indeed deny him, out of fear. But Peter is adamant – it won’t happen! He will never deny his Lord! And the rest also said they would never deny him.
So confident we are in our own powers, our own resolve. Truth is, the disciples did not have the strength to go with Jesus at that time, nor were they supposed to. They had ministry yet to do; the Spirit would give them the strength they needed, and they would, in their own time, be persecuted. But Peter and the others needed to see their own failure, their own humanity; it was only through this sort of recognition, this sort of humility that they would recognize their dependence on the Spirit as they carried out Jesus’ mission. This is true for all of us – we must come to the end of ourselves, to the point where we know we have to rely on God, in order to live into God’s will.
olive trees on the Mount of Olives