Jesus and Peter
Tim Temple

Introduction

When Oliver Cromwell, the leader of England many years ago, sat for his official portrait, he told them that he wanted it painted, warts and all. That phrase has come to be used many times down through the years to describe truthfulness and reality. Many times when we read the biography of a famous person, the biographer leaves us with a sense of hopelessness because so often they don't paint all the warts, and we are left with the feeling that we could never measure up to that person's life and accomplishments. But the Scripture is not that way; it deals with people's lives just as they are. Because of that, the Scripture shows us that very often He uses weak, sinful men and women just like us to accomplish His purposes. In fact, if He limited Himself to perfect men and women, He would have to do it all by Himself because He wouldn't have anyone He could use. Not much would get done.

In the last few years, biographers seem to have picked up God's idea, and we have read some biographies that tell us things that we didn't know were happening when the person was alive. People that we had been led to believe were saints when they were alive were really a lot more like us than we had thought after all. Most of the time, the biographers and the press and the media only tell us the beautiful things about people.

The passage that we come to now in our study of the Gospel of John is a prime example of God's portraying the characters in the Bible, warts and all. It is a well known story that probably most, if not all, of us have heard before. It is the story of Peter and his denial of Christ. It is important for us to look at it again for a couple of reasons. First, God has designed the Scripture to bring us, as we study it, back to the basics over and over again. He weaves these basic principles into His Word so that as we study it consistently, we will come across these same principles in various contexts repeatedly. So we find ourselves looking once again at the story of the time that Peter denied the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have entitled this lesson Jesus and Peter because it is a very intimate portrait of the relationship between these two men. We are in the process of looking at the second section of the chapter. In verses 1-11, we looked at the arrest of Jesus. We now want to look at the arraignment of the Savior in the remainder of the chapter. In our last lesson, we talked about the pretrial hearing in the courtroom in verses 12-14. Now the scene shifts to the courtyard outside the courtroom.

Open your Bibles, please, to John, chapter 18, and let's look through this account of Peter's denial. Then we will look a bit more broadly in Mark's account of it, tying the two together.

John 18

15And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
16But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
17Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
18And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

Skip to verse 25:

John 18

25And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
26One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
27Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

These are the verses that John relates which belong to this story of Peter's denial of Christ. First, we notice in verse 15 that John had a firsthand account of the whole thing because we are told there that another disciple followed along with Peter into the trial of Jesus. By now, we know that John does not refer to Himself by name. When we find an unnamed disciple in the Gospel of John, in every case we can see that John is referring to himself. John is referring to himself here in verse 15 when he says, “…another disciple followed with him.” Then he goes on to say that that disciple was known to the high priest. Because he was known to the high priest, he was known to the high priest's servants. Because of that, he was allowed to come into the very courtroom for the trial of Jesus.

As we are noticing Peter's denial of Christ, it is an interesting thing to notice John's silence in the trial. We don't know that there is anything that John could have done, but at least Peter had already tried to do something. Apparently, John stood mute in the courtroom and didn't even attempt to do anything. As we are going to be looking at Peter from a negative standpoint, we need to remember that Peter was not the only one. In fact, the other nine disciples who were still with Jesus weren't even there at all. Judas had already bailed out at this time, so that only left nine, and they weren't even there at all. So here we have only two disciples who were willing to stay close to Jesus, and even they were at a distance. One of them was silent, and the other denied Him. So the disciples, at this point, don't have a very good track record. Probably that is very reassuring to most of us because we know how God went ahead and used all of those men, even those who weren't there that night, but who, from at least a human standpoint, failed the Lord.

John probably was known to the high priest, though there is no indication in the Scripture at all how he was known to the high priest. Bible scholars down through the years assumed that he was part of the high priest's family, maybe by marriage. That has to be conjecture, but that makes more sense than any of the other suggestions.

I would like for us to turn to Mark, chapter 14, to look at the denial of Christ. Matthew also gives us some detail, but Mark puts it all together in a more summary fashion and gives us details that I think can fit together most easily.

Prediction of Peter's Denial

The first thing that we want to notice in Mark, chapter 14, is down in verse 31, and that is the fact that Jesus predicted this denial before it ever started.

Mark 14

27And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
28But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

Let's stop right here for a minute. Here is the prediction of this denial. Jesus said, “All of you are going to deny Me.” These verses are important because they begin to answer the question of how a person gets to the place that he repudiates, even temporarily, everything that he ever believed. One thing to keep in mind is that that situation never surprises God. Maybe some of you have been in that situation. Many Christians have been, maybe not on a large scale like Peter, but maybe just in our own minds, questioning or maybe even deciding that this isn't all true—in one way or another having denied the Lord. Maybe it hasn't even been in the area of questioning the truth, but rather just a question of refusing to do something that we know we should do. It never surprises the Lord when that kind of a denial of Christ happens.

Back in chapter 14, verse 27, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament. So not only is it something that Jesus knew, but it is something that He had even revealed before that. If you will notice again in verse 27:

Mark 14

27…for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
28But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

Jesus is quoting there from Zechariah, chapter 13, verse 7. In the book of Zechariah, the prophet Zechariah was talking about God's judgment of Israel to bring them ultimately to the place of cleansing. Those Old Testament prophets were always pleading with the Israelites to repent of their sins, to come back to a faithful relationship with God. They were always warning that if the people did not voluntarily do that, God would judge them and bring them to the place of humility and humbling under His hand that would bring them back to Him. Of course, that thing is still true in principle in our day even though it is not a national kind of prophecy like it was with the nation of Israel. Individually, as Christians, if we refuse to go on with the Lord, if we allow ourselves to get into some situation with sins of ommission or sins of commission, where we deliberately do something that we know we are not supposed to do, God disciplines us. He brings us to the place that we are willing to come face-to-face with that sin and confess it to Him. So the principle still works in the New Testament just as it did on a national basis in the Old Testament.

Zechariah was saying, “I am going to do something to you as a nation that will scatter you all over the world.” Jesus takes that Old Testament prophecy and He applies it to Himself and His disciples. He says, “I am going to be struck under the plan of God, and the sheep are going to scatter.” So Jesus was warning the disciples in advance that they would fail Him, that He knew that already, even though they didn't know it; and as we are going to see in a minute, they didn't believe it. But Jesus adds to that the fact that He will regather them after His crucifixion.

Look at verse 32 of Mark, chapter 14:

Mark 14

32And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
33And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;

In verse 36, he says:

Mark 14

36And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

So it is obvious that Jesus knows that this is all going to take place, that He is not going to be delivered from it, but God's will is going to be accomplished. The disciples are all going to be used in His plan to become the apostles and the leaders of the church, so Jesus knows that even though they are going to be scattered, they are going to be brought back together and used as part of His plan.

The point is still the same, and that is that, as believers, we may fail the Lord. At some point, we very likely will. It would be a very unusual thing for a believer to go all the way through His Christian experience never failing the Lord because we are human. We still have the sin nature; we still have the ability and the tendency to sin. So God knows that we are going to fail. But He also knows that He is going to bring us back to Himself. The only question about His bringing us back to Himself is whether He is going to have to do it through discipline or whether by His grace we might come back to Him voluntarily.

Peter's Selfish Belief

Coming back to verse 29, Peter's selfish belief about that prediction is brought out. Jesus predicted that they were all going to scatter and fail. Peter says to Him in verse 29:

Mark 14

29But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.
30And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
31But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

It is easy to overlook that last statement, but Mark records it for us very clearly. “They all said likewise.” Peter was the spokesman. Peter is the lightning rod for the rest of the disciples. He is the one who is usually recorded, but the others felt the same way. They refused to believe that they would deny the Lord as He was predicting they would. The pronoun I is specifically written out in the Greek text in this verse, which is a way of indicating in the Greek language a particularly emphatic statement. Usually pronouns are just assumed in the nouns or the verbs or the structure of the sentence, but when the writer wanted to particularly emphasize something, he would specifically write out the pronoun. So Jesus is saying, “Peter, especially you will deny Me. Even you, Peter, will deny Me.” He reaffirmed that. He said, “You will deny Me three times. It is not just that you are going to deny Me, but you will deny Me three times.”

Then in verse 31, Peter uses that same emphatic form of denial. Verse 31 should be translated, “Though I should die with You, yet in no wise will I deny You”—“Lord, I will die with You if I have to, but I will never deny You.” So Peter is in effect denying the Scripture because in prophecy Jesus said that His followers would scatter. Then Jesus has specifically repeated that and stated that with His authority, and Peter is saying to God the Son, “What You are saying is not going to happen. It is not going to take place.” Of course, that is nothing more than outright pride. That was the first step in Peter's downfall. I mention that because that is where it comes down to us. I Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 12, says:

I Corinthians 10

12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Let's think about this more specifically for ourselves. Galatians, chapter 5, verse 17, makes a prediction about believers that is similar to the prediction Jesus made about His disciples in that day. Galatians, chapter 5, verse 17, says:

Galatians 5

17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

There is a prediction about us. We are not going to be able to do the things that we want to do as Christians because we still have this struggle of the flesh and the Spirit. Now that we are believers in Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit living within us, but for reasons known only to Himself, God has left our sin nature—our flesh, as Paul refers to it in his writings and as he refers to it here. Our flesh is still with us. We still know how to sin. We still have that ability and tendency to sin, but now the struggle is really worse. Did you know that in a sense sin is a bigger problem for believers than it is for unbelievers? There are many Christians who will say that their life was easier before they got saved because then they could sin and it didn't bother them, but now when they sin, they have a struggle. We are tempted to sin. We have this struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. The prediction is that we will not always in every case be able to do that good thing that we want to do. That is a prediction about us similar to the prediction that God made to Peter and the others.

Mechanics of the Struggle With Sin

Turn to Romans, chapter 7, and I want us to look at these verses more specifically because they give the mechanics of the struggle. In Romans, chapter 7, verse 15, Paul is really talking about this same subject, but from a little different standpoint. He says in verse 15:

Romans 7

15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

Have you ever been there? You know of some sin that is your besetting sin. We are capable of any sin, but all of us have some sin that is more of a problem for us than other sins. Maybe we have a short list out of the long list. The sins that are on your short list may be different from the sins that are in my short list, but we all have those areas in which it is easiest for us to stumble. Paul says, “I have those sins, and I hate those things; but what I hate, that I do.” Verse 16:

Romans 7

16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me;…

Let me stop there a minute and say that one of the most important lessons that you and I will ever learn in the Christian life is that statement: “I know that in my flesh dwelleth no good thing…” I, without the Holy Spirit, am a sinner with no hope of victory over it.

Romans 7

18…but how to perform that which is good I find not.

I want to do the right thing, but I don't have the power to do it. Verse 19:

Romans 7

19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Let me pause here a minute and say that Paul is not saying, “It is not my fault; it is just the sin that dwells in me.” He is not saying, “I don't blame myself.” There was a philosophy in that day of, “We can just do anything we want to because it is really not us that is doing it; it is sin that is doing it. God knows that.” Paul goes on to say in verse 21:

Romans 7

21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

What he is saying is that we have to realize that we are still sinful human beings, and though we may want to do the right thing, in and of ourselves, we do not have the power to do it. Verse 22:

Romans 7

22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Paul goes on in the remainder of this chapter and over into the next couple of chapters to go into detail of the fact that as we depend not on ourselves, but on the power of the Holy Spirit Who lives within us, we can do those good things that God wants us to do and that we want to do, the principles of His Word, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to show us those things, to teach us those things, and also to empower us to do those things.

Yet, there are many believers who say, in spite of what God's Word says in these two passages that we have looked at, “I will just grit my teeth and keep a stiff upper lip, and I will not sin. I have a sin nature, okay, but I am not going to sin.” Or they will say, “As long as I do this list of good things and stay away from this list of bad things, I will not sin.” They insist on trying to do it in their own strength even though God has made so clear that we cannot stay free of sin in our own strength.

Some Christians even compare themselves to others like Peter did. “I know that so-and-so probably will fulfill the lusts of the flesh. That is just the way he is, but I won't. I'm better than he is.” All of this is simply a prideful denial of the truth of God's Word just exactly like Peter experienced. I am thankful that God gives us in detail the story of Peter because it is so true of us, too. Because of that, it is important to notice what happened next. We will go back to Mark, chapter 15, verse 32. Here we find the steps that led to the fulfillment of that prediction that Jesus made. These verses are about Jesus' agony in the garden, his betrayal. We have already talked about that in the first part of John, chapter 18.

Mark's Portrayal of the Betrayal

I want us to look at Mark's portrayal of them from the standpoint of the steps of denial that are woven into that scene in the garden. In verses 37, 40, and 41, we find Peter sleeping when he should have been praying. If you will notice in verse 37:

Mark 14

37And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?

Then skip down to verse 40:

Mark 14

40And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.
41And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest:…

This was Jesus' night of deepest agony; this was His night of deepest prayer. He had asked them to go with Him and support Him in prayer, to pray with Him, even though He went on farther by Himself. He would pray, and He would come back and check on them and find that they had gone to sleep. Jesus had warned Peter about this in verse 38, if you will glance back there:

Mark 14

38Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

Peter was depending on his own strength even in this immediate task that Jesus had given him, and he simply was not strong enough to pray with Jesus. Sleep overcame him. It is as if Jesus was saying, “Peter, I know that you want to stand with Me. I know that you are sincere when you say that you are not going to deny Me. Your problem is that you are still human.”

The lesson that Jesus wanted Peter to learn and wants us to learn here is that humanity that we still have. Maybe this is the experience where Peter learned what he first wrote in I Peter, chapter 5, verse 8:

I Peter 5

8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

I think there are many Christians who think that the Christian life is just kind of an automatic thing. We are saved, and then we just live happily ever after spiritually. We never have to give a thought to temptation. But those of us who have been saved more than a week know that that is not the way it is. That is what Jesus was teaching Peter the hard way, that we are still human, no matter if we do have good intentions, no matter if we do sincerely believe that we are not going to fail the Lord. Even those who feel that way are still human and still able to fail.

It is interesting in Galatians, chapter 6, verse 1:

Galatians 6

1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;…

But the last part of that verse says:

Galatians 6

1…considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

As we have talked about before, it takes a pretty mature Christian, a Christian who is walking with the Lord, to be able to restore a brother who has fallen into sin. It is awkward; it is embarrassing for you and for him. It takes some maturity to be willing to even attempt something like that. This verse says to those mature Christians, to those Christians who might be willing to attempt something like that, even you mature Christians who have the courage to follow my word in something as difficult and embarrassing and awkward as this, even you need to consider yourselves, lest you also be tempted. There is not a Christian alive who is not capable of falling into sin, perhaps even into some sin that he is trying to help someone else get out of. That is how powerful the struggle between God and Satan is. But God has given us the power to overcome all of that as we will see as we move along.

Going on in Mark, chapter 14, in verse 47, we find the second step leading to the fulfillment of Jesus' prediction about Peter. Here we find Peter striking out in his own strength. This is in the garden where Judas has come with all of the soldiers. We talked about that in the beginning of John, chapter 18, in our last lesson.

Mark 14

47And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

John tells us that it was Peter who cut off the ear. Peter, by this time, was forced into being alert. The problem was that now he takes some action, but he takes the wrong action. He takes matters into his own hands. Back in Matthew's account of that arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew records Jesus telling Peter, “I could call for twelve legions of angels if I needed protection. I don't need your sword, Peter. If I need protection, I have much greater protection than you can provide with that puny sword.” So to be victorious over sin, we have to recognize the lesson of Zechariah, chapter 4, verse 6. This is an important verse that every Christian should memorize:

Zechariah 4

6…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

“Not by any kind of human might or human power, but by My Spirit” is how things are accomplished in the Christian life. It is so easy to depend on might and power in our own strength, but the man or the woman, the Christian who thinks he can overcome sin and temptation in his own strength is the one who is in the most danger of falling because things are not accomplished spiritually by might and power, but by the Spirit. When the Spirit accomplishes things, He accomplishes mighty things and powerful things, but that is completely separate from human might and power.

So the first step leading to the fulfillment of Jesus' prediction of Peter's denial was sleeping because he was too weak to do anything else in his own power. The second step was striking out in his own strength because he just was not willing to depend on God's power in the situation. The third step is in verse 66 of Mark, chapter 14. Here we find Peter sitting with the servants when he had promised to stand with Jesus. The parallel verse is in John, chapter 18, verses 15-18. Notice Mark, chapter 14, verse 66:

Mark 14

66And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:
67And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.

Of course, this step is just a natural result of the first two. Remember, he is at the trial, so he is doing more than most of the other disciples, but he is only an onlooker. He is not really participating in the way that the Lord would have had him participate. He is there, and that is commendable, but he is not handling it in the right way. Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 1, is an interesting verse:

Hebrews 12

1…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,…

The important principle that that verse brings out is that there are some things that are not sinful in and of themselves, but that will keep us on the sidelines. Peter was not really doing anything wrong outwardly, physically, but he was sitting with the wrong people. There is nothing in the Bible that says you can't sit and warm yourself by the fire if it is cold, but the problem is that Peter was sitting with the wrong people warming himself at the fire. Peter's weights, to use Hebrew terminology, were sleepiness, striking out in his own strength, and sitting with the servants. There is nothing wrong with any of those except that they were keeping him from depending on the Lord to take care of this situation. They were keeping him moving in his own strength.

All of that sets the stage for the procedure that took place in the denial. So far, the only thing that Peter has done is to say, “Lord, the scripture that You have just said from Your mouth is not true.” Of course, that was a sinful attitude, but he really hasn't done anything overtly sinful in his actions yet; he has just put himself in the situation where he is not trusting the Lord, and he is a sitting duck for this sin that God has predicted he is going to commit.

The Fulfillment of the Prediction of Denial

We looked at the prediction of the denial, and now we want to look at the procedure, the actual fulfillment of that prediction. There are three specific factors here. First, there is the factor of location in the first part of verse 66, which we read a moment ago. John, chapter 18, verse 18, is the parallel verse.

Mark 14

66And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:

You see, he was in the wrong location to begin with. The denial came partly because of where he was. Surroundings are always important. There are some places that we as Christians should not go even though I could never give you a chapter and verse saying that you should not go there. There are some places that Christians should not go because there are temptations in those places that God knows in our own strength we will not be able to handle. God knows we place ourselves in the way of temptation when we go into certain locations. Again, because we have different sins that are appealing to different ones of us, the places that you have to be careful about going to may be different from the places that I have to be careful about going to. There are some places that I know I had better not go. There are some stores in this city and in every other city that I know I am just better off not even going in there because of the things that I would be exposed to if I went there. The same thing is true for you. It may not be a store with you; it may be a part of town. But location is a significant thing. We can place ourselves in the way of temptation and in the way of sin simply be getting into the wrong surroundings. As I say, those things are not sinful within themselves, but they are places where sin can breed.

An example from the Old Testament would be Jonah getting on the boat, heading in the wrong direction. His sin was not in getting on the boat. There was nothing wrong with the boat. His sin was he was going a different direction than God had told him to go. In getting on that boat, he placed himself in the place where he would participate in disobedience.

Peter was in the wrong place. He had been on his way into the courtroom. John had arranged for Peter to come into the courtroom, but on the way in there, this girl started a conversation with Peter, and apparently he turned around and stayed out in the courtyard. Location is extremely important. Because he was in the wrong location, he was opened up to the very serious level of charges that we find in verse 67 of Mark, chapter 14, and then in verse 69.

Remember, in this trial, Jesus is being tried for his life. The Jews are actively trying to put the death sentence on Him. Peter and John knew that, so they were in a very serious situation. If they were coconspirators with Him, if Jesus was going to get the death penalty, they were very likely to get some very heavy sentence, too, if not the death penalty.

In fact, Mark tells us in verse 64 that Jesus had just been pronounced by the high priest as worthy of death. So things were moving very quickly toward the death penalty for Jesus. Peter knew that, and the result of that was fear on Peter's part. Because of that fear in verse 68, he told a lie. The girl had said, “I know that you are one of them,” and he denied it, saying:

Mark 14

68But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.

Fear is always the basis for lying. Why do people tell lies? So many times, the truth would be easier to tell. Certainly the ramifications of telling a lie are much more difficult than telling the truth. It is because they are afraid—usually wrongfully afraid—that if they tell the truth, it won't look good. They will be embarrassed. They are afraid of some effect it will bring on themselves. Peter was afraid he would be executed or spend years in prison if he told the truth. So out of that fear, he told a lie.

I just heard a preacher on the radio saying that his father had told him when he was growing up, “Lies have legs. They will always catch up with you.” That is a good thing to remember. We see that happening to Peter. The lie becomes even more vehement in the next verses. In fact, it leads to a complete loss of testimony. Notice verse 70:

Mark 14

70And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
71But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

Here is the very thing that Jesus had predicted and the very thing that Peter had so vehemently promised would not happen. It happened just exactly as Jesus said it would, and Peter had been so proudly denying that it would. It will happen to us. If you think that you can keep yourself from sinning, if you hear of someone else committing a sin and you say, “I would never do that,” you have taken the first step, that step of pride, that step of denying that you are capable of sin, that will set you very likely on the path to doing that sin or something else just as bad.

Something else that is interesting to notice here in verse 70:

Mark 14

70And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.

The Galilaeans were the New Testament equivalent of Texans. Probably most of us sound like Texans. There are a few of you immigrants from the outside world who have not lost your accent, and you don't talk normally like we Texans do. But when we go to some other part of the country, very often people figure out quickly where we are from. The Galilaeans had some kind of twang or something about their speech, and they said, “I know you are one of them; you talk just like he does. You've got that same accent.”

The thing I want to point out here is that very often when we are involved in sin and we are trying to cover it up, the thing that we would least expect will give us away. The thing that Peter never even considered was how he talked. It may not be your speech; it may not be your accent; but if you are trying to cover up sin, if you are trying to lie your way out of a situation, you may be shocked at the thing that will do you in and will unravel that scheme that you are concocting.

Postlude to the Denial

Thankfully, the story doesn't end there because John doesn't record it, but Mark does. In verse 72, we have the postlude to the denial:

Mark 14

72And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

When Peter remembered the Lord's words, he quit trying to fool anyone, even himself. When he wept, it is an indication that he had come to his senses, not just because of the tears, but the fact that those tears are an indication that he had realized the truth about himself, and he wept because of it.

Look again at verse 72.

Mark 14

72…Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him…

Then a little farther down in the verse, he thought about it. Isn't that what we want to do? We want to remember what Jesus had said to us. We want to think about it. Peter thought about what Jesus said, but he thought about it too late. That is a tremendously important factor to keep in mind. It is extremely important that we think about the Word of God, that we remember what Jesus had said and that we think about what Jesus had said before it is too late.

I'm afraid that too many of us as Christians simply don't think. We just move through life, facing temptations, never stopping to think what the writers of Scripture have said about that temptation. We want to do it, so we move on into it, and we don't stop to think until it is too late. So many times we come to realize the wisdom of God's Word when sin has already bitten us and we are facing a crisis because of the results of our sin.

Peter thought about it, and even though Mark doesn't specifically tell us here, we know that he confessed his sin and was restored to the place of fellowship. He agreed with God about what he had done. He thought about it, and he wept.

Probably the most important lesson of this whole passage is that there is restoration and forgiveness. The first principle that we have talked about is the real possibility of every one of us falling into sin; but the parallel theme and really on an eternal scale, the more important theme is that there is always forgiveness for that sin and restoration, no matter how badly we failed. There are those who say, “Well, God is going to keep us secure in our salvation, but if we deny Him and take ourselves out of His hands… No one can pluck us out of His hands, but we can jump out of His hands. We can deny Him and lose our salvation.” I'd like to introduce you to Peter. Peter denied the Lord. Peter, in so many words, jumped out of God's hands. It couldn't get much worse than Peter is here.

Chapter 16 of Mark tells the story of the Resurrection day. Of the many significant truths that we find in that chapter, one is paramount at this point. In verse 7 of chapter 16:

Mark 16

7But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him,…

Tell His disciples. Tell the disciples who haven't denied Jesus, the disciples who are anxious to know what became of him. By the way, tell Peter, the one who cursed and swore at Him. Tell him that Jesus wants to meet with him. That's what forgiveness is all about. That is what is so wonderful.

I am personally so grateful that though we are unfaithful, He abides faithful. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “He cannot deny Himself.” He is the God of faithfulness. He is faithful; that is His essence. That is part of the character of God—that He is faithful. Even if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful.

Peter is a written example of that faithfulness. So are you and I if we are willing to admit it and recognize it and get from that place of failure and disappointment and discouragement where we find ourselves after we have failed the Lord and come back to Him and move on like Peter did to be used by Him in ways that only He could say. There is no telling what God may do with your life or mine as we walk in fellowship with Him. It may not be as significant as Peter. But think about that. He was a fisherman who later became one of the foundation stones of the New Testament church. Here was a fisherman who was recognized as being ignorant and uneducated by the leaders of Israel after the Resurrection of Jesus. He went on to write delicate, detailed information about how a wife should submit to her husband. Who would think a fisherman would know about that kind of information about a meek and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of the Lord.

Conclusion

That is how God can use someone who is willing to walk with Him, who has learned the lesson that he can't walk with Him in his own strength, but if he allows Him to use His strength through him, He can do whatever He wants with him.


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