Then 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 before you to Galilee.” But Peter answered and said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall 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.
- Aspiration of author to his audience
- Divide rightly
We keep the Bible caged because, first of all, we rarely read it. We also place a lot of faith in traditions. There is nothing necessarily wrong with traditions but they need to have a well documented reason that is continually communicated to the next generation. Millennials are smarter than you think but are leaving the churches in droves because we have failed to provide them with an explanation of the traditions. It really is that simple. That, and we are overly dogmatic about certain secondary claims that cause division. They are bombarded by social media but not by us with truth, all we can say to them concerning our traditions is, “it’s the way we have always done it.” Blame shifting, it’s happened since the beginning, Adam blamed the woman and the woman blamed the snake and here we are, thousands of years later, blaming everyone but ourselves for the decline or, “falling away” in the church. Which painfully brings us to today’s text.
“Then 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.”’” First, let me be perfectly clear, the disciples don’t lose their eternal security, temporarily, then work their way back into God’s good graces. Either grace is grace or it’s not grace at all. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” “No one can snatch them out of my hand.” “No one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” “I will never leave you.” “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” “And who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” And a thousand other passages, not ripped out of context.
Secondly we see prophecy of prophecy. That is, Jesus repeats the words found in Zechariah 13 and directly applies them to the disciples’ very-near future. Notice; “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.'”
Zechariah 13; “’In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. And it will come about in that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. And it will come about that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who gave birth to him will say to him, “You shall not live, for you have spoken falsely in the name of the LORD;” and his father and mother who gave birth to him will pierce him through when he prophesies. Also it will come about in that day that the prophets will each be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies, and they will not put on a hairy robe in order to deceive; but he will say, ‘I am not a prophet; I am a tiller of the ground, for a man sold me as a slave in my youth.” And one will say to him, “What are these wounds between your arms?” Then he will say, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,’ Declares the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it will come about in all the land,’ Declares the LORD, ‘That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people,” And they will say, “The LORD is my God.”‘”
Many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers, teach that Zechariah 13, will be fulfilled during the days of the Antichrist, during the future Tribulation, in the dead disciples’ far future, or right around our proverbial corner. Problem; Jesus said, “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.’ “You,” being the disciples and “this night,” meaning, this night.” Is it possible that only this particular piece of prophecy was to be publicly portrayed in the night of the penultimate Passover? Are the rest of the prophetic words of Zechariah left unfulfilled until the entrance of the Antichrist? I suppose that is possible but Jesus is not one to leave loose ends. The penultimate Passover is nothing if not about preparedness.
I stopped writing at this point and listened to a radio program on prophecy and signs of the times. Truly I write to you, that I wrote the previous paragraphs yesterday before I listened to this particular program and today I have picked up where I left of with renewed enthusiasm based upon what was said on the radio. One of the things that was said; “two parts in it will be cut off and perish; “But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested,” this is from Zechariah which Jesus and I have previously quoted. They claimed, this “is about Israel in the Tribulation, after the church meets the Lord in the air.” It was said that Israel is on the cusp of building the third temple of which the Antichrist will allow them to build but after three and a half years, he will set up the abomination of desolation in the third temple, breaking his covenant with them. Problem; Jesus told the disciples that Zechariah would be fulfilled very soon. We shouldn’t be looking for signs of the times but rather remember that history repeats itself.
We must remember that Jesus promised his first-century, Jewish, twelve disciples, alone, in private, that their generation would not pass away until they saw all these things, including the abomination of desolation, which happened in the first century. He told them that their generation would see it and that was the case. After this, the temple toppled. Can this all happen again? Of course, history repeats itself. Nevertheless, the words of Zechariah were applied by Jesus directly to the disciples. Notice the context and flow, trying to discern where the prophecy, if at all, breaks away from the near future to the far future. Also, attempt to see the sublime string and allusions and metaphors. “But Russell P, I am not a prophecy professor.” Neither am I, nor should anyone else be. The Bible was not written to prophecy professors, but to the common man. Look at what the scribes, scholars, Sadducees, Pharisees and “Law experts” did to the sacred Scripture. How many times in Matthew have we seen them taken to the tool shed by Jesus concerning their lack of understanding? “But Russell P, I don’t want to be like them, it’s better to let pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers teach me rather than read for myself.” Ask your pastor if you should be reading for yourself. If he says, “no,” it’s time to find a new church. I have never met a pastor who doesn’t encourage his congregation to read the Bible daily.
You can do it, the CAGED method can help. The problem with prophecy professors is the same problem we have with major media, they have to sell the sensational or no one will tune in. Books about blood-moons, stars and other signs in the heavens make millions but here we are, just like we were yesterday, with one exception we will come back to. Rather than look for the signs of the times, look at how history is repeating itself. Like ancient Israel, we have appointed over ourselves those that sell the sensational. By buying their books rather than being grounded in the mistakes made by our forefathers, they become our scribes, selling us false hope, dogmatically date setting. It happened over and over and over again in the history of mankind. Jeremiah the prophet is one example. “Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I am going to bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’S house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon.”‘” Problem; God didn’t say that or set that date. He told Jeremiah; “When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”
Also in Jeremiah, very much abridged for time’s sake: “Why is the land ruined, laid waste like a desert, so that no one passes through? And the LORD said, ‘Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it, but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them.'” “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” “’Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised.'” “Thus says the LORD, ‘Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.'” “Then the LORD said to me, ‘A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.’ Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they surely will not save them in the time of their disaster. For your gods are as many as your cities, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster.'” “Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who are prophesying in My name, although it was not I who sent them— yet they keep saying, “There shall be no sword or famine in this land”— by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end! The people also to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and there will be no one to bury them—neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters—for I shall pour out their own wickedness on them.'”
I am not suggesting anything other than history repeats itself and asking the question; are things really as bad now as they were in Jeremiah’s day? Let me attempt to bring this all back to today’s text and the application to us.
I have written, the problem with prophecy professors is the same problem we have with major media, they have to sell the sensational or no one will tune in. Books about blood-moons, stars and other signs in the heavens make millions but here we are, just like we were yesterday, with one exception we will come back to… Salvation! The Lord, despite false followers, is building his kingdom. Peter writes about this; “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’…The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” This is the same Peter who “this” very night, will fall away from the shepherd, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 13, along with his brothers.
“But Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall 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.”
Who was correct, Zechariah or Peter? I will give you some time to decide; consider the two texts together: “‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’ Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,’ Declares the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand aagainst the little ones. And it will come about in all the land,’ Declares the LORD, ‘That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people,” And they will say, “The LORD is my God.”‘ “But Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.'” Who told the truth about the night of the penultimate Passover, Zechariah or Peter? Context is king, this is not a trick question.
Here’s a hint, since it is in context of which we technically haven’t considered, we will jump ahead a bit. “Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a certain 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.’ And 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.’ And a little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you too are one of them; for the way you talk gives you away.’ Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’ And immediately a cock crowed. 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.” What is it about Galilee? Apparently they talked funny. We will come back to this.
Who was correct, Zechariah or Peter? Zechariah. Why, how did you arrive at that answer? Zechariah doesn’t predict the way in which Peter would “fall away,” or be scattered. Why then do you assume that Zechariah was right and Peter was wrong? Yes, because I pushed you in that direction, nevertheless, it was not my words that made you come to this conclusion. How did you come to this conclusion? Exactly, because Jesus said so.
“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.”‘” Zechariah 13 was fulfilled because Jesus said so. It is much more difficult to believe that it hasn’t been fulfilled than it has. Prophecy professors may say that it has yet to be fulfilled, and you can believe them if you wish, but I will take the words of Jesus over those who want me to buy their book.
Application: history repeats itself, the Bible is clear on this. The first temple toppled, as did the second. In 70 AD Jerusalem was made desolate and devestated, destroyed by the Romans as the Babylonians before. But in entered Jesus, who changed everything and predicted the second temple toppling, as he had the first. Peter placed his hope in him, though he had some major mind malfunctions, he learned to trust the teachings of Jesus.
Some pastors and preachers theologians and teachers exlclaim for profit, not prophet, the pre-tribulational rapture is our “Blessed Hope.” But it has been rightfully said, by one of their own, “where you put your hope is what you worship.” The pre-tribulational rapture can become an idol, and has, to some pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers. Like self-preservation became an idol to Peter on the night of the penultimate Passover, looking to the sky for signs of the Lord’s return takes our focus away from that for which we were called. But I am getting ahead of myself again.
The disciples, as predicted by Zechariah, fell away that night, we will continue to see this unfold as we continue to consider the context. Nevertheless, their falling away was not eternal, unlike the letter of the Law and the temporary temple. Jesus is the Word of God and the true temple. He puts an end to the “come and see” religion and initiates the “go and tell” Spiritual lifestyle. Again, I am getting way ahead of myself. We will see this unfold, Lord willing. I have gone long, because I wanted us to consider the times of the first temple toppling. Nevertheless, consider one more thing in today’s text, as it foreshadows the destruction and desolation of the letter of the Law and the temporary temple. “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”