While in a class at church, we read through the part of the Gospel where Peter denied three times that he knew Jesus. I know for a fact that I’ve denied Him way more than that and yet He still loves me.
But why do we deny that we know Jesus?
I’m not entirely sure, but Peter’s experience on the night Jesus was arrested might give us some insight.
Here’s my take on it:
When Peter was with Jesus on the night he was betrayed and later arrested, he was faced with a dilemma. Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times, but Peter insisted that he would not.
Here’s how it’s recorded in Luke 22:
33 Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.”
34 But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Later, after Jesus was arrested and brought to the home of the high priest, Peter did exactly what Jesus said he would do. He denied that he even knew him.
Again, this is how it’s recorded in Luke 22:
54 So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. 56 A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!”
57 But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”
58 After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!”
“No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted.
59 About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.”
60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
61 At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 62 And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.
So what happened? Peter was as confident and strong in his faith in Jesus as anyone could be. Why did he deny that he knew Jesus?
Here’s a clue:
55 The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there.
Peter surrounded himself with the wrong people, even for just a little while. Back when his confidence in Christ was soaring, he was surrounded by the other disciples; guys that kept him accountable and focused on what’s right and true. Later, he surrounded himself with Roman guards; they were not the types to encourage Peter and help him keep his faith strong.
Keep in mind that Jesus was with Peter the whole time, but it was Peter’s decision to either stay close to Jesus or keep his distance from him.
Peter chose to keep his distance.
We are often faced with this same decision and it comes down to two choices – stay close to Jesus or keep your distance from Him.
Surround yourself with the right people and when the decision needs to be made whether or not to stay close to Jesus, the choice might be just a little easier.
The option is yours, but Jesus will be there either way.