The Stumbling Disciples

On the night Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He predicted that all the disciples would be made to stumble because of Him (Matthew 26:31-35). He quoted from Zechariah 13:7 to support His prediction, “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” This happened just as it was written when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. We read at the end of verse 56, “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” It was not just Peter who claimed he would never deny the Lord Jesus, all the disciples made the same bold claim. Did they like sheep scatter simply because of fear when the Shepherd was struck? Was it more than fear? The noun form of the verb stumble is used in 1 Corinthians 23 where Paul says that the preaching of a crucified Messiah was to the Jews a stumbling block. The Jews could not conceive of their Messiah dying on a cross. Perhaps, like John the Baptist earlier (11:1-6), some doubt entered the disciples’ minds about Jesus being the Messiah. Most Jews would have thought of their Messiah as a conquering King not a dying Savior.