Peter Denies Jesus

(Matthew 26:69-75)

Of all the twelve disciples chosen by the Lord to follow him, Peter was the one he selected to take the gospel to the people after his death. But we see in Peter also all of the failures and weaknesses that man suffers. For despite having followed Jesus for the previous three years or so, Peter denies Jesus in this last hour to save his own skin.

This was exactly as Jesus had predicted. Jesus had said to Peter that not only would he not stand and be prepared to go to the death with him, Peter would deny Jesus three times that night before the cock crowed. Peter along with all the disciples of the Lord was full of bravado. They had all committed to stand with the Lord, but when the crowd came with swords and clubs to seize Jesus, all his disciples fled.

But Peter followed the crowd at a distance and sat outside the courtyard to see what would happen. It was here that his allegiance to the Lord was queried by the maids and bystanders saying he was one of the Lord’s disciples. On each occasion Peter denied it saying, “I do not know the man.” On the third occasion he even began to invoke a curse on himself and swear that he did not know Jesus. It was then that the cock crowed and Peter remembered the words of the Lord and he left there and went out weeping bitterly for he knew he had failed.

How must Peter have felt? How low would he have been at this point? His sorrow would have been immense at the capture of the Lord, but then to deny even knowing him, and knowing that the Lord knew he would do this would have put him into untold depths of grief. It is unimaginable to comprehend Peter’s feelings at this time.

Jesus knew he would fail and had told him so. He knows there will be times we will fail too in our walk with Christ. There will be times when we are called to stand up for what we believe and we will fail to do so. And as Jesus knew it of Peter, he knows it of us too. So we must remember the advice he gave to Peter and take it to heart when we fail and fall.

Jesus said to Peter that when he failed, to repent and turn back to the Lord. He was to first lift himself up in repentance and then to comfort and strengthen his brethren. (Luke 22:32) Even though Jesus knew the weakness that would cause Peter to fail, he also knew the strength and character of this great disciple and that he would bounce back, ready and able to help the rest through their own anguish and failure. He also said to the disciples when he told them they would forsake him to, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) So the power by which they were to overcome the trouble in their hearts from their failure was faith. They were to hold fast their faith in God and Jesus Christ and their faith would win the victory over this weakness in their flesh.

It is the same with us today. The power to overcome our weaknesses and failures relies on repentance and faith. When we fall we must first repent and turn back to the Lord. Then we must believe in Jesus and the power of his blood, which has already freed us from sin and the law. This faith in Jesus and the power of his resurrection is what will enable the Holy Spirit in us to change us so that we can be transformed into the image of Christ. We have an advantage that Peter and the disciples did not have, for today the New Covenant is in force and those who have received the Holy Spirit have access to the power of transformation that is in the New Covenant.

So let us not dwell on our weaknesses and failures. Rather let us take the advice of the Lord given to Peter and the disciples. When we fall, repent and believe that the Lord has set us free. When we are tempted, put the matter before the Lord so that he will provide the strength to come through the temptation and to overcome it in victory. And finally let us always give Jesus praise for giving himself for us so that we can have access to this life in him.

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