On Stumbling

On Stumbling

Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night . . .” (Mt. 26:21, 31, 34).

One betraying, one denying, ten stumbling.

All twelve disciples fulfilled the prophesy of Jesus. We learn from this the hard lesson that stumbling is part of the Christian life. If it was seen in our most noted leaders how can we say otherwise? Even if one temporarily disclaims public identification with Christ, a reprehensible sin, he may still be restored through repentance, as in the example of Peter. But the prophesy concerning the betrayer does not have such a pleasant ending and his future is remorse ad infinitum.

What is the difference between one who betrays, one who denies, and a stumbler? The sin of Judas was premeditated and the sin of Peter and the other stumblers was that of being overcome in a weakness. Is it therefore the resolve not to sin that causes us to obey Christ? Peter said, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble . . . . Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (and so said all the disciples, v. 26). But Peter’s elevated resolve did nothing; the leading pronouncement-maker became the stumbler among stumblers! No, the answer is not resolve. Such resolves have an “appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” Col. 2:23.

What does give us hope? The Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should no fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren (Lk. 22:31-32).” We have a lesson to learn from Peter. It is not our resolve that wins the day, though we should have resolve. No. We should be more humble. It is the resolve of Christ to intercede for us so that our faith will not fail that causes us to persevere. And it is the knowledge of His settled goodwill toward us which gives rise to that confidence in him which persists even after the rooster has stopped crowing.