PassageThe previous passage had a brief mention of Peter following Jesus as far as the courtyard of the building where they were holding the trial, where he was warming himself at the fire, alongside the guards. In this passage, a servant girl notices him, and states that he was with Jesus. Peter denies it, saying he doesn’t even understand the girl, and leaves. As he’s leaving, the rooster crows.
The girl sees Peter again, and says to those around her that Peter was “one of them,” but he denies it again. At this point the crowd takes up the cause too, and decides that Peter must be one of them, because he’s Galilean. (I guess they didn’t get too many Galileans in their neck of the woods.) But Peter invokes a curse on himself, and swears that he “[does] not know this man of whom you speak” (verse 71 (ESV))—as if he is so unaware of everything that’s happening that he doesn’t even know who Jesus is.
Immediately after this the rooster crows a second time, and Peter then remembers what Jesus had earlier prophesied (about Peter denying him three times), and breaks down weeping.
ThoughtsIt should be obvious to the reader that Peter is very afraid in this passage. He isn’t just denying Jesus, he’s calling down curses on himself and swearing that he doesn’t even know who Jesus is, so how could he possibly be a disciple? (It’s slightly coincidental for me to be writing about this only a couple of weeks after my Pastor preached a sermon about James 5:12 (ESV), where James tells us that we shouldn’t swear, but simply let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no. But here Peter is, not just swearing but calling down curses on himself, that he doesn’t know Jesus—a blatant lie before men and God.)
We judge Peter for his actions here, and rightly so, because he’s blatantly denying Jesus. However, as we’re judging Peter’s actions here, we should also be taking a hard look at our own lives. How often do we do the same thing—how often do we have a chance to deliver the gospel, or have a fruitful conversation about God, and let the opportunity go by for fear of coming off as weird, or losing friends? I speak mostly to North Americans and people in “the West,” who really have nothing to lose by sharing the gospel (except potentially looking foolish), who have much less to lose than Peter did in this passage. (There are those outside of North America who are risking their lives by admitting they’re Christians; I think they can empathize with Peter much better than North Americans can.) If Peter’s actions were wrong—and Jesus says they were—then how much worse are our actions, when we fail to act or to speak?
Think I’m pushing the point too far, to compare not speaking with Peter denying Jesus? Take a look at Matthew 10:26–33 (ESV); this is Jesus speaking:
“So have no fear of [those who malign you], for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”There is both encouragement and warning in this passage:
- When these situations arise, you don’t need to worry. God the Father is in control, and you are valuable to Him
- But if you deny Jesus, he will deny you, too