7736 - Peter's Denial


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Today we continue to follow the dealings with Jesus after he had been arrested on the Mount of Olives.

As Jesus was being questioned by Caiaphas in his palace, which had high outer walls enclosing a courtyard, Peter secured admittance to the courtyard and joined the guards and others around a fire, which they had kindled.

Listen to Luke 22:54-62 which tells us what happened.

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.

A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him." But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, "You are one of them." "Man, I am not!" Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean." Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Notice only Peter is mentioned. We know from the record in John’s gospel, that John likewise was present. None of the other disciples are mentioned. Peter sat by the fire among this crowd, which was hostile to Jesus.

Apparently Peter had forgotten the warning given by Jesus earlier in the evening that, “before the rooster crows...you will deny three time that you know me.”

Soon a servant girl got closer and looked Peter over before she said, “This man was with him.” with an accusative tone in her voice.

Nothing is mentioned or implied about what would have happened had Peter confessed, “Yes, I was there.” But apparently there was some fear in Peter, among these people who were unfriendly toward Jesus — the man who had been teaching him for the past three years. The man whom Peter had confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The man whom Peter and the apostles had believed was going to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time.

We can understand the turmoil brewing within Peter, and the battles going on within him as to ‘what was taking place?’

In any case, Peter denied the accusation by the girl by emphatically saying, “Woman, I don’t even know him.” His first denial, foretold by Jesus, had just crossed his lips. But Peter apparently did not even think about the warning of Jesus.

Some time elapsed before someone else gave attention to this rough, former fisherman warming himself by the fire. Again there was an accusation: “You also are one of them.”

Again Peter blurts out, even without thinking: “Man, I am not!” Peter may have been fearing just such an accusation, because he too might be arrested. Again there is no indication that Peter remembered the warning, nor that he has any twinge of a guilty conscience.

As time moved along, about an hour later, another person asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Matthew records that Peter’s speech had given him away. With this confrontation Peter lost all restraint. The other gospels tell us Peter began to curse and swear, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” It was barely out of his mouth when the rooster crowed nearby.

Then the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. At that moment Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken regarding Peter’s three denials before the rooster would crow today.

Then Peter lost it. He went outside and wept bitterly. The confident, boisterous Peter was crushed by his own failure.

Praise God, the story does not end there. Peter was genuinely sorrowful and repentant, and Jesus soon reinstated him as a member and a leader of the disciples for future tasks.