The Gospel of John: Peter’s Denials of Christ.

The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.” (John 18:17; 25-27)

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” This particular text is an example of synonymous parallelism in which two statements are essentially saying the same thing.

Pride refers to self-exaltation. It is the cause or means for a person’s destruction. Destruction is defined as a literal breaking of a limb. It is a crippling wound.

A haughty spirit means having an attitude of conceit or grandeur. This attitude results in a fall which is a personal stumbling or calamity.

One commentary states, This verse discusses pride, humility, and disaster. Pride leads to one’s downfall (cf. 18:12; 29:23). Pride is so despicable that a person should avoid it even if it means being economically oppressed.” (See Proverbs 16:19).

All of us, I’m sure, have experienced at one time or another a humbling experience which was preceded by our pride or haughtiness. We exalted ourselves and then encountered the resulting humiliation. This is what happened to Peter.

Peter was self-assured in his own strength and ability to follow Jesus. He boldly stated that while the other disciples would forsake Jesus, he would not (Matthew 26:34-35; Mark 14:30-31; Luke 22:33-34). Yet, that is exactly what Peter did. He not only forsook Christ, he denied he even knew Him. Not once, but three times. To acknowledge God is holy to the third degree (Isaiah 6:1-7) is to praise Him to the superlative degree. So also, by denying Jesus three times, Peter took his personal sin of denial to the superlative degree.

Luke 22:31-32 provides us an interesting side note to Jesus’ prediction back in the upper room regarding Peter’s three denials and Peter’s subsequent behavior. The text says, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The repetition of the name (cf. 10:41Acts 9:4) implied an earnest and somber tone of warning. Christ himself had given Simon the name Peter (Luke 6:14), but here he reverted to his old name, perhaps to intensify his rebuke about Peter’s fleshly overconfidence. Though addressed specifically to Peter, this warning embraced the other disciples as well. The imagery (to sift you like wheat) is appropriate. It suggests that such trials, though unsettling and undesirable, have a necessary refining effect. The pronoun “you” is singular. Although it is clear that Jesus prayed for all of them (John 17:6–19), he personally assured Peter of his prayers and of Peter’s ultimate victory, even encouraging Peter to be an encourager to the others.  Peter himself failed miserably, but his faith was never overthrown (cf. John 21:18–19).

Luke 22:60-61 says, But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”

We may fail the Lord miserably. Perhaps we have. Perhaps we are. Perhaps we will. We may believe that God could never forgive us and that we have forsaken all hope of ever serving Him again.

However, the Lord can and does restore such people who fail. Repent of your failure(s) and sin today and receive the Lord’s cleansing and restorative grace.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, Jesus “had no need to die for people who are sinless, for there are no such people. He gave Himself for people who have it in them to betray Him, people like you and me. However, He will never betray those on whom He sets His love, but will love them faithfully for all time.”

I John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

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