And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62, NKJV)
In these days before Easter, we are studying some of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. Today let’s talk about Simon Peter, the disciple who denied the Lord.
We could use many words to describe Peter, one of three disciples in Jesus’ inner circle. Brash. Headstrong. Impulsive. Speaking before taking time to think. If we were looking for applicants to bring onboard our evangelistic team, we may not have chosen Peter. Still, he did display qualities of leadership and seemed to be the unofficial leader of the twelve. Peter had some rough edges, but he also displayed faithfulness and loyalty. Jesus saw beyond what he was to what he could become. Aren’t you glad the Lord does the same for you and me?
Although the Lord warned Peter he would deny Him three times, Peter refused to believe he would do such a thing. The other disciples chimed in with their own vows to die before they would deny. None realized just how weak and frightened they would become when their faith was challenged.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ But he spoke more vehemently, ‘If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all said likewise.” (Luke 14:30-31, NKJV)
From Peter’s actions the night Jesus was arrested, it would be easy to characterize him as a coward. Despite his earlier declaration, he did deny the Lord three times while outside the high priest’s home. But to give him credit, only he and “another disciple” (probably John) followed the Lord after His arrest (John 18:15-16). The others fled. It took a degree of courage for him to show up at the high priest’s home after slicing off his servant’s ear (Matthew 26:51). He needed to conceal his identity as he no doubt feared also being arrested.
Luke’s account of the last supper tells us that Satan had targeted Peter. The enemy wanted to bring him to ruin.
“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; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’” (Luke 22:31-32, NKJV)
Jesus could have protected Peter from this bid by Satan. Instead, He allowed Peter to go through the sifting to equip him for the future. With the lessons learned, he could then strengthen others. We must not overlook the Lord’s powerful assurance: “But I have prayed for you.” That is encouraging for anyone in the midst of a severe trial. The Lord knows when Satan targets us, but He may use that experience to help us grow our faith. In turn, we can strengthen others once we come out on the other side of our trial.
Peter—impulsive, headstrong, quick-to-speak Peter—went on to become a strong leader of the early church and preached the salvation message on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Yes, Peter had faults, but God saw great potential in that rough fisherman. When we look at his life, we realize whatever our background, whatever our past failures, the Lord sees what we can become instead of what we are. He desires to mold us into a vessel of service for Himself.