Peter Denied Jesus Again!
Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
John 18:25-27 (NLT)
First, a servant girl asked, ” You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?” The Greek text indicates that she expected a negative answer, and that is what she got! Peter denied Christ by denying that he belonged to the band of disciples.
Peter remained by the fire, so it is no wonder that he was approached again. (That same night, Jesus had been perspiring as He had prayed in the Garden!) Another servant girl asked the same question, again expecting a negative reply. The pronoun they in John 18:25 suggests that others in the circle around the fire took up the question and one by one hurled it at Peter.
The third question came from one of Malchus’ relatives! The Greek construction indicates that he expected an affirmative answer: “I saw you in the Garden with Jesus, didn’t I? Yes, I did!” After all, this man had gotten a good look at Peter because he was probably standing with Malchus when Jesus was arrested. Some of the bystanders took up the discussion (Matt. 26:73; Mark 14:70) so that challengers may have surrounded Peter.
At that point, Peter’s resistance broke down completely. He began to “curse and swear” (Matt. 26:74). This does not mean that Peter let loose a volley of blasphemies, but rather that he put himself under a curse in order to emphasize his statement. He was on trial, so he put himself under an oath to convince his accusers that he was telling the truth.
There were four “watches”:
- Evening (6-9 p.m.),
- Midnight (9-12),
- Cockcrowing (12 midnight to 3 a.m.), and
- Morning (3-6 a.m.) (See Mark 13:35).
The crowing of the cock reminded Peter of the Lord’s words, and he went out and wept bitterly.
The crowing of the cock was assurance to Peter that Jesus was totally in control of the situation, even though He was bound and being harassed by the authorities. By controlling one bird, Jesus affirmed His sovereignty. According to Genesis 1:26, God gave man authority over the fish, the fowl, and the animals. Peter had seen Jesus exercise authority over the fish (Matt. 17:24-27; Luke 5:1-11) and the animals (Matt. 21:1-11); but now he recognized His authority over the birds.
But the cockcrowing was also an invitation to repentance. “So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Luke tells us that Jesus turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22:61), and this look of love broke Peter’s heart. Peter had been a witness of Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 5:1), and by his own denials he added to those sufferings.
Keep in mind that the crowing of the cock was the announcement of the dawning of a new day! “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
It is worthwhile to contrast Peter and Judas. Peter wept over his sins and repented, while Judas admitted his sins but never really repented. Judas experienced remorse, not repentance. When Judas went out from the Upper Room, “it was night” (John 13:30); but when Peter went out to weep bitterly, there was the dawning of a new day. It is the contrast between godly sorrow that leads to true repentance, and the sorrow of the world (regret and remorse) that leads to death (2 Cor. 7:9-10). We will discover that Jesus restored Peter (John 21) and enabled him to serve with great power and blessing.
In the Garden that night, you would find both guilt and grace. Peter was guilty of resisting God’s will. Judas was guilty of the basest kind of treachery. The mob was guilty of rejecting the Son of God and treating Him as though He were the lowest kind of criminal.
But Jesus was gracious! Like King David, He crossed the Kidron, fully conscious that Judas was betraying Him. He went into the Garden of Gethsemane surrendered to the Father’s will. He healed Malchus’ ear. He protected His disciples. He yielded Himself into the hands of sinners that He might suffer and die for us.
“Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all!”
What is in your hand today—the sword, or the cup?
Lessons from Peter:
- The believer is as weak as water;
- The danger of self-confidence;
- The consequences of prayerlessness (could he not watch for one hour?);
- The perils of companionship with the wicked;
- The influence of the fear of man (Prov 29:25).
Before we judge Peter too severely, let’s examine ourselves:
How many times have we denied the Lord and lost opportunities to share the Gospel with others?
Do we talk when we should listen?
Argue when we should obey?
Sleep when we should pray?
Fight when we should submit?