Matthew 26:30-35; Mark
Luke 22:31-38; John
After observing the
Passover Supper, Jesus and the disciples left the
upper room singing the Great Hallel (Psalms
113-118). The Hallel means "Praise the God!"
Matthew tells us, "After singing a hymn, they went
out to the Mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30). The
music was a simple chant. The Jewish Talmud says the
Jewish people sang Psalms 113 to 118 at different
points in the feast. They sang it in two parts,
113-114, and 115-118. At this point in the narrative
they are probably singing the second part or Psalm
The apostle John tells us
it was after Jesus gave words of encouragement to
His disciples in John 14 concerning His immediate
death. After concluding these words Jesus told his
disciples, "Arise, let us go from here" (John
14:31b). They walk together to the Mount of Olives,
down to Kedron Valley, through vineyards, and by the
fires burning the dead vine cuttings along the way.
Matthew, Mark and Luke do
not give an account of the teaching of Jesus to His
disciples in John 14-17. They proceed with Jesus
leaving the upper room after the Passover Supper and
then cross the Kidron to the Garden of Gethsemane on
the slopes of the Mt. of Olives. Jesus often went
with His disciples to the Mount of Olives we are
told in Luke 22:39. Gethsemane is the name of an
olive orchard on the slopes of Mount of Olives. The
name Gethsemane is the transliteration of a Hebrew
phrase meaning "oil-press."
The special teaching for
the disciples in John 14-17 took place between the
singing of the Hallel and reaching Gethsemane. A. T.
Robertson is of the opinion that Jesus tarried in
the Upper room and they may have gone out to the
street after John 14:31. This great discourse could
have taken place as they walked along slowly down to
the brook Kidron and up to the base of the mountain.
The full moon of the Passover shone over them,
lighting up the deep ravine outside Jerusalem. "It
is likely that more was said than any of the Gospels
give, or all of them together," suggests John
Broadus. However, we do have exactly what the Holy
Spirit led the Gospel writers to record for us.
At the meal Jesus
surprised Judas Iscariot by declaring to everyone
present that he would betray Him (Matt. 26:21-25),
and now He tells the disciples that they too will
deny Him before the night is over. Jesus sees this
as a fulfillment the prophecy in Zechariah 13:7. The
Hebrew prophet declared long ago that God would
strike the Shepherd and the flock would flee. Jesus
said to His disciples, "You will all fall away
because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I will
strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock
shall be scattered'" (Matthew 26:31 NASB). (All
Scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard
Bible, 1995 Update unless otherwise noted). The
context of Zechariah's prophecy refers repeatedly to
Yahweh as the Actor. The divine purpose was
fulfilled when Jesus was struck and the disciples
scattered. Matthew follows the Hebrew rendering of
Zechariah. "To take the passage as referring to the
Messiah, corresponds to the idea of the Messiah as
king, since kings were often described as
shepherds," writes John Broadus (Matthew, p. 533).
Isaiah 53:6 says, "The LORD has caused the iniquity
of us all to fall on Him." The LORD God laid on the
Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, all our iniquities,
and He spared not His own Son (Romans 8:32). "It was
He who 'struck him down,' 'bruised him,' 'put him to
grief,' 'made his soul and offering for sin'" writes
William Hendriksen (Matthew, p. 913).
PROPHECY OF JESUS'
IMMEDIATE DEATH (26:31-32)
The disciples are caught
off guard when Jesus continued to speak of His death
which will take place this very night (vv. 31-32).
Over the past six months Jesus had repeatedly told
His disciples that He would be put to death in
Jerusalem and rise again (Matt. 16:21; 17:22f;
20:8f). "At the close of His public teaching, He
declared that He should at the Passover be delivered
up and crucified." Jesus told His disciples, "You
know that after two days, the Passover is coming,
and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for
crucifixion" (Matt. 26:2). "Now He is perfectly
definite as to the time" (Broadus, Matthew, p. 533).
After going out to the Mount of Olives Jesus said to
them, "You will all fall away because of Me this
night, for it is written, 'I will strike down the
shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be
scattered.' But after I have been raised, I will go
ahead of you to Galilee" (Matthew 26:31-32).
Jesus gave them a
specific time (v. 31).
Jesus was not taken by
surprise. For the first time Jesus gives them a
specific time in v. 31. It would take place "this
night." "You will fall away because of Me this
All of the disciples will
"fall away" in a few hours. They will run away out
of fear. They will be overwhelmed by what will
suddenly happen to Jesus. Leon Morris observes,
"Jesus is not saying that they will really fall away
or abandon faith in Him." They will "have a grievous
lapse, even though it will be a lapse out of
character" (Gospel According to Matthew, pg.
Jesus gives them
hope (v. 32).
"But after I have been
raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." He
assures them of His resurrection. Jesus the Good
Shepherd will go before them into Galilee where His
ministry began when He called them as disciples.
This was His primary field of ministry. He will be
there waiting for them (Matt. 28:7, 10). The Father
will raise Jesus from the dead. "The Good Shepherd
will die, and His sheep will be scattered, but in
due course he will lead them again" (Morris). Jesus
will go on ahead and will be waiting for them in
Galilee (Matt. 28:10, 16ff).
Like Jesus' disciples we
overlook words of reassurance and camp on the night
PERSONAL WARNING TO
As usual, Peter is the
disciple who speaks up. He is very emphatic
declaration in his self-defense. There is no doubt
that he meant every word. With passion he wants to
remain loyal to Christ regardless of the
However, there is a bit
of over confidence, conceit, even arrogance in his
attitude. Peter assumes all is well, but in his
self-confidence he takes the first step to his fall.
Broadus suggests, "Here is the distinct assumption
that he loves the Master 'more than these' (John
21:15), indeed more than any one whatsoever loved
him. When bitter experience had chastened him, he
made no more comparisons, but said only, 'You know
that I love you'" (Matthew, p 534).
Be careful not to miss
the strong emphatic emphasis between Jesus' and
Peter's responses to each other verses 33-35.
A. T. Robertson observes,
"Peter ignored the prophecy of the resurrection of
Jesus and the promised meeting in Galilee (v. 32).
The quotation from Zech. 13:7 made no impression on
him. He was intent on showing that he was superior
to 'all' the rest. Judas had turned traitor and all
were weak, Peter in particular, little as he knew
it. So Jesus has to make it plainer by pointing out
'this night' as the time (v. 34). 'Before the cock
crows.' No article in the Greek, 'before a cock
crows.' Mark 14:30 says that Peter will deny Jesus
thrice before the cock crows twice. When one cock
crows in the morning, others generally follow. The
three denials lasted over an hour" (Word Pictures of
the New Testament, vol. 1, pp. 210-11). M. R.
Vincent says, "A little more graphic if the article
is omitted, as in the Greek. Before a single cock
shall be heard, early in the night, you shall deny
Peter is very emphatic,
"Even though all . . . I never." Others may fail,
but he will never fail His Lord. He is emphatically
negative and so self-assuring in his commitment to
Christ. But his overconfidence is his fall. "But
Peter said to Him, 'Even though all may fall away
because of You, I will never fall away'" (Matthew
26:33). Peter is emphatic using a double negative in
the Greek, "I will certainly never deny you." In
Peter's mind it was unthinkable that he would ever
deny Jesus. The other disciples made the same
affirmation. In their heart of hearts they never
dreamed of disloyalty. Others may flee, but not me.
Peter's defense grows stronger and stronger, louder
and louder. "Even if I must die with You, I will not
deny You" (v. 35). Hendriksen emphasizes the
emphatic "certainly not deny You." Mark tells us
"Peter kept saying insistently" (14:31). All of the
disciples with the exception of Judas had this
passionate love for Jesus that night.
Jesus' reply to Peter is
just as emphatic as Peter's. Jesus singles out
Peter. "Jesus said to him, 'Truly I say to you that
this very night, before a rooster crows, you will
deny Me three times.' Peter said to Him, 'Even if I
have to die with You, I will not deny You.' All the
disciples said the same thing too" (Matthew
Once again Peter is
emphatically negative. "I will not deny You" (v.
35). I certainly will not. It is a double negative
in the original, ou me with a future indicative. No,
I will not deny You.
This crowing does not
refer to the third Roman watch, but the actual
crowing of a rooster. Because of the fanciful
religious regulations the Jews were forbidden to
keep fowls in Jerusalem, but the Romans would have
no problem. However the Talmud repeatedly mentions
cock crowing. Broads says, "The Rabbinical rule did
not exist in the time of Christ, or else was not
strictly observed" (p. 534). Somewhere lurking in
the shadows was a rooster waiting for God the
creator's command. God's sovereignty over the
rooster should remind us of the day when Jesus sent
Peter out to catch a fish telling him that the very
first fish that he would catch would have a coin in
its mouth that Peter would use to pay the tax (Matt.
Alfred Plummer sees the
heartrending irony of the disciple's undisciplined
commitment and our Lord's agony. "The apostles are
so sure of their own strength that they will not
allow the possibility of failure, even when they are
forewarned of it by Christ. The Son of Man is so
conscious of the weakness of His humanity that he
prays to the Father that He may be spared the
approaching trial. He feels the need of being
strengthened by prayer." Jesus abides in the
strength of the Father, but the disciples proceed in
their own frailty.
PETER AND DISCIPLES
DENIAL OF JESUS (26:56, 69-75).
"But all this has taken
place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.
Then all the disciples left Him and fled" (Matthew
26:56). Mark ads what may be a personal note saying,
"And they all left Him and fled. And a certain young
man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen
sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But
he left the linen sheet behind, and escaped naked"
All of the
"'But all this has taken
place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.'
Then all the disciples left Him and fled. Those who
had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high
priest, where the scribes and the elders were
gathered together. But Peter was following Him at a
distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest,
and entered in, and sat down with the officers to
see the outcome" (Matthew 26:56-58).
denials (Matt. 26:69-75)
"Now Peter was sitting
outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to
him and said, 'You too were with Jesus the
Galilean.' But he denied it before them all, saying,
'I do not know what you are talking about.' When he
had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl
saw him and said to those who were there, 'This man
was with Jesus of Nazareth.' And again he denied it
with an oath, 'I do not know the man.' A little
later the bystanders came up and said to Peter,
'Surely you too are one of them; for even the way
you talk gives you away.' Then he began to curse and
swear, 'I do not know the man!' And immediately a
rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which
Jesus had said, 'Before a rooster crows, you will
deny Me three times.' And he went out and wept
bitterly" (Matthew 26:69-75).
Upon denying Jesus three
times Matthew tells us that Peter "began to curse
and swear, 'I do not know the man!' And immediately
a cock crew. And Peter remembered the word which
Jesus had said, 'Before a cock crows, you will deny
Me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly"
Michael Wilkins observes
"The difference between Judas and Peter (and the
rest of the disciples) is demonstrated by their
behavior after their failures. Judas is satanically
driven to accomplish his treachery (cf. Luke 22:3-4;
John 13:2), because he never was a true believer
(John 6:60-65). Peter and the other disciples
falter, but their repentance later brings them back
to Jesus for restoration" (Matthew, The NIV
Application Commentary, p. 840).
Abiding Principles and
1. "The things we least
anticipate are our falls," observes Alfred
2. The beginning of
Peter's sin of denying Jesus began when he disagreed
with the Lord. Peter thought he was better than the
other disciples. Peter was intent on showing that he
was superior to all the rest of the disciples. Peter
would have had a different outcome if he would have
repented of his arrogance and obeyed Jesus' warning.
3. Peter is usually the
one we immediately think of denying Jesus, but all
of the disciples fled. "We have no reason to believe
that any of the ten did formally deny their Lord,
though they all left Him and fled, Peter and John
presently returning (Mat. 26:56)" (Broadus, p. 534).
4. God uses the prophetic
warning of Jesus, the look of Jesus in the night and
the crowing of a rooster to bring Peter back to
5. Carefully note the
difference in Peter's denial and that of Judas. One
repented, the other hanged himself in bitter
remorse. Both denied Him, but only one repented.
6. Luke 22:31-32 gives us
insight into the restoration of Peter. "Simon,
Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift
you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your
faith may not fail; and you, when once you have
turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke
22:31-32). The Lord stored up in Peter mind words
which would be used in the days to come. After Jesus
was raised from the dead the angel in the empty tomb
told the women to "go tell His disciples and Peter,
'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will
see Him, just as He said to you'" (Mark 16:7). Be
sure and tell Peter! Be sure and tell the disciple
who denied Him. Luke also tells us the resurrected
Jesus has a personal interview with Peter. "The Lord
has really risen, and has appeared to Simon" (Luke
24:34). The apostle Paul speaking of the
resurrection of Jesus said that Christ "appeared to
Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve," and over five
hundred saw Him on one occasion (1 Cor. 15:5-6). In
a post-resurrection appearance Christ challenged
Peter to love the brethren and to feed the sheep
(John 21:1-23). Galilee was the home of the
disciples and where Jesus had called them as
7. Even though Jesus
warned the disciples they would deny Him, He gave
them the reassuring promise that He would be raised
from the dead and meet them in Galilee. None of them
appropriated that promise.
Title: Matthew 26:30-35
Jesus' Prophecy of Peter's Denials
Series: Life of Christ