Matthew 26:31 (ESV)
Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”
Speaking the truth to another person is one of the hardest things for me to do. It’s difficult because I don’t want to come off as arrogant or judgmental, nor do I want to discourage or offend the person. However, often times the very best thing you can do for someone is be honest with him and speak the truth to him in love.
Jesus always spoke the truth to people whether they hated him or loved him. In the above passage, Jesus truthfully tells his beloved disciples that they will ALL fall away from him. He then quotes a sentence in Zechariah 13:7 which reads, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
Upon hearing this, Peter arrogantly says, “Though they ALL fall away because of you, I will NEVER fall away!” Shesh! Peter either has a very high opinion of himself or an extremely low opinion of his comrades! He definitely failed to follow his counselor’s advice and stay away from using absolute terms like “never” or “always”. Only God can use absolute terms like that.
Jesus responds, “Truly, I tell you this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Jesus’ response is truthful, solemn and spoken directly to Peter in front of all the disciples. His words must have stung Peter’s ego. Peter immediately replies, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” Matthew records that all the disciples said the same.
Jesus immediately responded and said, “You Neanderthal numbskulls! What I say always happens. I tell the storm to ‘Be still’ and it stops. I say ‘Be gone’ and demons flee. I say ‘Be walkin’ and the lame take up their pallets and run. Listen, I say you will all fall away and so quit saying otherwise. Conversation is over.”
No, Jesus didn’t say that although I wish he did. In the passage he doesn’t say anything in return. He speaks the truth and then lets the truth be used by God. He doesn’t feel bad that he offended them and he doesn’t try to explain to Peter why this must happen. Nor does he argue with them and make them accept the truth of his words or see how his words could be true. He knows the truth and so he speaks the truth in love and leaves the results in the Father’s hands.
When it comes to parenting your young adult child, giving your input to co-workers, giving advice to friends and family members, or mentoring men and women, we all can learn a valuable lesson from Jesus about speaking the truth in love. Our primary responsibility is to simply speak the truth and be honest in our feedback. Whether or not the other person listens or agrees is not our responsibility. Their response may contribute to our irritability (he-he) but it’s not our responsibility. I pray that the Lord will establish in our hearts the capacity to speak the truth in love and not check out relationally if the person rejects what we have to say. In the end, if what we have said is truthful and is true, then the Father will use it to set them free.