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Theology > Jesus > Christ's Death > Peter's Denial  


Peter’s denial of Christ is one of those few incidents that is recorded in each of the four Gospels: Matt. 26:31-35, 69-75; Mk. 14:27-31, 66-72; Lu. 22:31-34, 54-62; Jo. 13:36-38;  18:15-18, 25-27. Just this simple fact suggest the importance of the incident. Three times Peter is confronted regarding his relationship to Christ, and three times vehemently, with curses and oaths, Peter  rejects their suggestions of his identification with Christ. He willfully and deliberately denies Christ:

A servant girl . . . “You also were with Jesus of Galilee” (Matt. 26:69); Peter: “I do not know what you are saying” (Matt. 26:70);

Another girl . . . “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth” (Matt. 26:71); Peter: “I do not know the man” (Matt. 26:72);

Those who stood by . . . “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you” (Matt. 26:73); “I do not know the man” (Matt. 26:74).

At least three thoughts regarding Peter’s denial of Christ are worthy of consideration; even from events of evil the believer can be instructed.

One, the Lord knows the future and at times reveals the future.

Jesus made a general statement regarding all the disciples: “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night” (Matt. 26:31); and then He made a specific prediction to Peter: “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me” (Lu. 22:34).

The sin of Peter was known by the Lord before the sin was committed; the Lord knows all things.

Even seemingly minor details are known like knowing where and when a man would be walking, and that he would be carrying a pitcher (Lu. 22:10-12). The details of our lives are known to Him—He knows our future.

Two, events of which the believer is a part involve unseen and supernatural aspects.

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail’” (Lu. 22:31-32).

Satan had requested permission to afflict Peter, and Christ had prayed for Peter—two events of which Peter had absolutely no knowledge.

Is it possible that at times the unseen spiritual beings around us and the Lord above us are engaged over us in this same manner?

Three, even good individuals deny Christ at some point in some way.

Peter denied the Lord three times. Around a fire and to a servant girl Peter denies Christ. The incident is seemingly trivial. What can be so important. It is just a momentary lapse under pressure. But the Lord took note, and the incident is recorded in Scripture.

It is remarkable that Peter had at one time confessed Christ in the strongest possible terms: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).

Fear of identification with Christ causes one to deny Christ.

Four, the potential for denial is not even recognized by most individuals.

Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” (Matt. 26:33).

Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matt. 26:35).   Peter did not fully understand himself, his inner thoughts and motivations, and the capability that was anchored there. Affirmations of non-denial reveal a certain pride and a lack of understanding of the potential, or lack of potential, that is within. Few men understand the depravity and weakness of the mind.

At times silence is the better part of wisdom; do not speak with arrogance about what you will or will not do in the future, but allow the future to unfold.

Five, the Lord does not reject us even while He knows that we will reject Him.

Our failures do not negate His faithfulness.

The Lord prays for His own and has responsibilities for us to assume (Lu. 22:32).

Even after we deny Him he assures us of His love (Jo. 21:15-19).

A true believer is greatly exercised over his denial of Christ. When Peter denied Christ, Christ “looked at Peter” (Lu. 22:61). And immediately “Peter remembered the word of Jesus” that had predicted his denial of Christ (Matt. 26:75); surely he also remember his boast that he would not deny even though all the other disciples did deny—he even claimed that he would die for Christ. Pride leads to shame and destruction. But in the present circumstance Peter denied even knowing the Lord. The Lord looked at Peter. What a look! The Scripture adds that Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:75).

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