Jesus said to them, "Tonight every one of you will lose his faith because of me" ( Matthew 26:31).
Our minds can hardly take in the pathos of those words. They come as a sort of horizontal foreshadowing of that dire cry from the cross. The Son of Man had come to save the lost, to lift up the fallen. Here, though, is not a lifting up, but (in more literal translation) a falling away because of him. "Anyone who is an obstacle [stumbling-block] to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck" (Mark 9:42). But here Jesus himself is causing others to fall from faith. He is the stone of stumbling (skandalon), and he feels the weight of the ponderous millstone.
Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor said to Jesus, "Thou art proud of Thine elect, but Thou hast only the elect, while we give rest to all." Jesus had rejected a political strategy for mobilizing and lifting up the many. With gaze still upon the many, he had turned to the few. But now he has no longer even the few. The few, on whom the future of his mission depends, are about to fall away—because of him.