Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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"And Jesus said to them, 'All of you shall be offended because of me this night,
for it is written, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." '
But Peter said to him, 'Even if all shall be offended, yet not I.'
And Jesus said unto him, 'Truly, I tell you that this day, even in this night,
before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times.'
But Peter spoke more vehemently, 'Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.'
Likewise said they all."
Mark 14:27, 29-31
"And they all forsook him and fled."
It is clear that Jesus' twelve disciples (and the women who traveled with them), loved the Lord. They suffered many things for his name's sake, and they followed him far longer and more faithfully than any other of his hundreds of disciples. Jesus loved them dearly because of their sincerity and faith, as did the Father (Jn. 14:21; 16:27), but Jesus also knew that because they did not have the strength of the holy Ghost within them, they would not be able to follow him all the way. That was, in fact, the very reason that Jesus had to die. Jesus came to suffer and die in order to make the strength of God's Spirit available to those who loved him, so that they could follow him all the way. If you love Jesus, the holy Ghost is going to overshadow you and fill you with such love for God that you can follow Jesus all the way. "The love of God", wrote Paul, "is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Ghost which He has given to us" (Rom. 5:5).
We can have so much love for Jesus in our own spirits that we will suffer for him, just as the disciples did. We can have so much love for Jesus in our own human spirits that we will speak up for him and even wield a sword in his defense, as his disciples did. But no man has ever, or will ever, love God enough to follow Jesus all the way to Calvary without the power of the holy Ghost. The nature of man is only courageous enough to follow Jesus' footsteps to a certain point. After that, every one of us, without the strength of the holy Ghost, will do exactly as Jesus' disciples did; we, too, will forsake Jesus and flee when the greatest pressure comes.
Wise men know better than to rely on their own strength and wisdom in following Jesus. They understand the seriousness of Jesus' admonition that God is looking for men and women who will humble themselves to serve Him "in spirit and in truth." And God is searching for such hearts because He knows, and has always known, that only those who serve Him in spirit and in truth will have the strength to follow Jesus all the way.