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3 Truths Learned from Peter’s Denial

Read Matthew 26:57-75

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Matthew 26:74 (NLT)

The air was crisp. Peter shivered. Was the tremble from the biting wind or the ice revealed in Judas’s silver-lined veins? Was it a physical or spiritual chill on the night Jesus of Nazareth faced fate? Indeed, the whisp of frolicking demon’s wings could be felt. The Shepherd was to be struck down. His sheep fled. Even those that declared allegiance would falter that night.

Peter nestled to the warmth of the fire, wrestling with the idea of his Lord being betrayed by that…that… Zealot. Peter watched from a distance. Was he looking for an opening, an opportunity for an escape? It’s possible. But more than likely the range was to disassociate himself from the Wonderworker from Nazareth.

Peter was the outspoken disciple, but fear gripped his tongue. He cared for Jesus but was his affection enough? A few hours before, he had declared his unwavering loyalty. However, a mere servant girl’s question paralyzed this rugged fisherman that once dared to step on to a raging sea to follow Jesus.

What would cause Peter’s loyalty to wane? Some may say it was meant to be this way. And in a sense, they’re correct. Nevertheless, if we look closely, we can find at least three truths that we can relate to as followers of Christ. For Peter’s story, often is very much our own story.

  1. Peter was following Christ from a distance.

Matthew writes,  “Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.” Matthew 26:58 (NLT) Although Peter was bodily close to the heat of a fire, his soul’s temperature declined because he was away from the one that fans the flames of men’s hearts. If we neglect to draw close to Christ through prayer, Scripture, and corporate worship, we will go the way of Peter. We might not verbally admit our backsliding, but our actions will tell the tale. We must always draw near to Christ and depend on him to keep our hearts ablaze. 

2. From this distance, Peter slipped into greater denial.

Peter’s denial was gradual. In his first encounter, Peter merely shrugged off the servant girl’s comments by saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” (26:70). Peter was trying to get the heat off of him by changing the topic. Next, Peter denied knowing Jesus (26:72)! Finally, Peter began to bring a curse on himself declaring …” a curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man…” (26:74). Do you see the progression? People never wake up and say I plan to deny Christ today. It’s a slow fade brought on by a smoldering heart.

3. Peter repented.

In the end, Peter repented at the crowing of the rooster. God can use anything to arrest our attention and draw us back to Himself. In Peter’s case, He used poultry. King David’s heart was broken by the boney finger of a pointing Prophet. God has used family, friends, enemies, and even livestock at times to get his point across. You may have heard crowing in the distance as you’ve read this post. (It would not be the first time God spoke through an animal!)  Follow Peter’s footsteps and repent. Turn back to Jesus.

Peter’s story is our story. Often, we proclaim our allegiance to Christ, but we fail Him. It’s inevitable. We are all flawed human beings. We may not deny Him verbally, but we reject Him in action. However, Jesus’s grace is sufficient.  If we draw near to him in repentance, he will ignite our hearts again. Ask Peter. He went from cowering a the question of a servant girl to preaching on the Day of Pentecost. Ultimately, tradition tells us that Peter was crucified upsidedown because he refused to deny Christ. Will you draw closer?







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K.W. Bounds
K.W. Bounds

Kevin W. Bounds graduated summa cum laude from Lee University. A pastor and writer, he lives in South Georgia with his wife and two children.

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