(Note: This is a guest post based on a comment that Blake made that I thought was too good to get buried at the end of a dying thread. With his permission I’m reposting it here. Enjoy! -GFJ)
I wanted to return to a question that many of you have asked about the prophecy that Peter would deny Christ thrice. I had kinda been wating for someone to bring this up, but since it now appears that (that) thread is dead, I think it may now be useful.
I believe that Victor Ludlow’s suggestion that Jesus was not as much predicting what Peter would do as telling Peter what to do might be accurate. In other words, the Greek is open to the reading that Christ says effectively: “Peter, deny me three times this night…” knowing that Peter was essential to the Church and that his life was in danger if he were linked to Jesus. So Peter didn’t deny Jesus, rather, he followed his Master’s instruction to say that he didn’t know him to preserve his life. Jesus knew that Peter would be important to the survival of the nascent church and that it was essential to preserve his life. Peter “wept bitterly” not so much because he had betrayed the Master, but because he had been required by circumstances to deny him and the Master had been taken to face death.
Similarly, a knowledge of Jewish customs at Passover gives us insight into how Jesus knew that Judas would betray him (and in fact already had at the time Jesus predicted that one of them would betray him). I won’t go into great detail except to observe that Judas was the keeper of the purse and he had the duty to gather a donation for the poor that would be given to them at the door of the Temple at the conclusion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Judas had already agreed with the Jewish officials to identify Jesus when he stated what is sometimes taken as a prophecy that Judas would betray him.
Further, Jesus knew that Judas would dip his sop into the same sop bowl as Jesus because it was the Passover custom to recline at a triclinium table with the person on the left sharing a sop bowl with the person on his right. We know that Judas sat next to Jesus because he dipped a sop in the same bowl — and Jesus knew that Judas was sharing the bowl and would dip further because they had shared the same sop bowl throughout the Passover meal (the last supper) and would continue to do so. Thus, it was a matter of just practical common sense that Judas would dip his sop in the same bowl.
I also want to just mention on this Easter that we all came to this earth with faith that Christ would see his mission to its conclusion. WE didn’t know for sure that he would; but we had faith in him. We trusted him to see it through. All could have been lost if Jesus had not done the Father’s will in finishing the work he was given by going through with the atonement. Everything hung in balance in that moment in Gethsemane — the entire world. We had faith in Jesus — not because it was certain or somehow impossible for Jesus to fail (as some of you appear to think), but faith is possible only because it was possible for him to fail. We trusted his love and commitment to us and our salvation. Praise be to our Lord and God for his love in seeing his mission through to its end — in suffering. I believe that he inquired of his Father genuinely whether that cup couldn’t pass from, genuinely asking if there wasn’t some other way that the atonement could be accomplished. He didn’t enter the atonement with absolute forekowledge, already knowing that it was inevitable that he would do it — rather, it was a genuine and open question for him as to whether that cup might pass. All glory to him for loving us that much and seeing it through to its better end and its gorious conclusion!