Peter, Denied Jesus

We’ve discussed how Peter could be impetuous and vowed to stay beside Jesus side, but Jesus told him at the Last Supper that he would deny him before the night was over.

Peter’s denial of Jesus is mentioned in all four of the gospels.

Matthew 26 begins with discussing the last supper.  In Matthew 26:33-35, Peter vows while on the Mount of Olives “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.”

Peter was close enough to see Jesus trial

But Jesus knows what the future holds and “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”

However, Peter sticks to his convictions.  “ Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”

Jesus tells Peter in Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

Jesus is arrested and Peter cuts off the guards ear.  While Jesus is standing before Pilate and Herod, Peter seems to be staying close by.  Matthew 26:58 says, “But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.”

Peter denies Jesus

In a Wikipedia narrative of the denial, the first response is described as ““A denial when a female servant of the high priest spots Simon Peter, saying that he had been with Jesus. According to Mark (but not in all manuscripts), “the rooster crowed”. Only Luke and John mention a fire by which Peter was warming himself among other people: according to Luke, Peter was “sitting”; according to John, he was “standing”.”

John provides a little different variation on this narrative.  In John 13: 36-38, “ Simon Peter

A servant girl asked if was with Jesus

said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.”

Peter wants to be with the Lord and follow him. He does not understand what is about to happen, but Jesus does.  Jesus knows that Peter cannot follow him at the moment.  However, Jesus tells Peter that he will follow him afterwards.  And Peter did.  He followed Jesus in ministry after the resurrection and even more telling, he met his end in being crucified {upside down}.  Jesus knew what the future held for Peter, even when Peter did not.

Peter denied this a second time

But, let’s get back to the narrative of Peter denying Jesus.

Matthew 26:69-75 picks up the remainder of the narrative:

“Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

Wikipedia sums it up by explaining, “A denial when Simon Peter had gone out to the gateway, away from the firelight, but the same servant girl (Mark) or another servant girl (Matthew) or a man (Luke and also John, for whom, though, this is the third denial) told the bystanders he was a follower of Jesus. According to John, “the rooster crowed”.”

Peter denied Jesus a third time

“Peter’s second denial was of a quadruple nature. He denied to four different parties, but in such quick succession that the event is regarded as one.”  {The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.}

71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.

74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Peter realized he’d done exactly what Jesus foretold

“Exasperated by the repeated accusations, Peter loses his temper and begins to emphasize his denial by profanity. Desire to make good his denial is now supreme in his thoughts and the Lord whom he denies is all but forgotten.”   {The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.}

75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”

Wikipedia sums the third denial up as “A denial came when Peter’s Galilean accent was taken as proof that he was indeed a disciple of Jesus. According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, “the rooster crowed”. John, though, does not mention the Galilean accent.  Matthew adds that it was his accent that gave him away as coming from Galilee. Luke deviates slightly from this by stating that, rather than a crowd accusing Simon Peter, it was a third individual.”

Jesus looked back at Peter

“Peter’s sin was aggravated; but he fell into the sin by surprise, not as Judas, with design. But conscience should be to us as the crowing of the cock, to put us in mind of the sins we had forgotten. Peter was thus left to fall, to abate his self-confidence, and render him more modest, humble, compassionate, and useful to others.”  {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

Luke 22:61-62 adds small details not mentioned in Matthew and Mark, “ And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

Peter wept bitterly

Notice that Peter was close enough that the Lord {Jesus} was able to turn and look at him.  Imagine how Peter must have felt as their gazes held for just a moment.  The pain Peter must have felt at remembering how he’d vowed to stand beside Jesus and the Lord telling him that he would deny him before the night was over.  Now that moment had come into being.

“When Peter remembered the loving tenderness of Jesus manifested when he foretold Peter’s crime it formed a background against which the sin appeared in all its hideous enormity.” {The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.}

So, what did Peter do?  He went out and wept bitterly.  That is one fact that is mentioned in three of the four gospels.

But, what can we learn from this moment of weakness in Peter?

Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed

“Little do we know how we should act in very difficult situations, if we were left to ourselves. Let him, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall; let us all distrust our own hearts, and rely wholly on the Lord. Peter wept bitterly. Sorrow for sin must not be slight, but great and deep. Peter, who wept so bitterly for denying Christ, never denied him again, but confessed him often in the face of danger. True repentance for any sin will be shown by the contrary grace and duty; that is a sign of our sorrowing not only bitterly, but sincerely.”  {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

Today, we often see many church leaders fall in a variety of ways.  Some of them turn from their roots and living for another life, while others are humbled in their sin, grow closer to Christ and learn to lean on Christ as never before.

The Old Cross Made the Difference

“On the night of the betrayal, when Christ intimated that his disciples would forsake him in the trial he was about to suffer, Peter spoke up and asserted that though all others forsook him he would never forsake him. What Christ had said might be true of the rest, but he was so loving, faithful and true, that he would die for him. Yet before the cock crow of the next morning he had thrice denied that he knew Jesus, even with his oaths. Such was the collapse of the confident disciple who “loved the Master better than these” other disciples.”   {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.}

Are you willing to stand with Peter and confess Jesus regardless of the consequences?


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