Peter's denial happened because he wasn't ready for his trial by the fire.
16 Peter had to stay outside the gate.
Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. 17 The woman asked Peter, "You're not one of that man's disciples, are you?" "No," he said, "I am not." 18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.
John 18:25-27 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." 26 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?" 27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
Peter was in the wrong place at the wrong time, if he truly wanted to make good on the promise that he would never deny Jesus, then he should have been hiding with the other disciples. Maybe Peter felt that hiding out in itself was a form of denial and would be a betrayal of his best friend.
Peter did not realize that Jesus was not the only man on trial that night, while Peter was being questioned and answering in fear because he had no control over what was happening, his best friend was just the opposite.
Jesus was in control of his situation, he was being questioned but he was answering the questions with one hundred percent calm, he knew that the cup of God's wrath was about to be poured out and he was willingly going to take it.
Matthew 26:40-41 Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn't you watch with Me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!"
It was a cool night and the fire seemed like a good place to be but Peter did not prepare for his trial by the fire, earlier he was sleeping as Jesus was preparing for his trial, the interrogation that Peter would encounter would prove that his love and courage would not be enough to remain loyal to Jesus.
Luke 22:33 Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go to prison with You, and even to die with You."
Others in the circle around the fire took up the same question and one by one they began to ask. The third question came from one of Malchus’ relatives! This man had gotten a good look at Peter because he was probably standing with Malchus when he was injured by Peter.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad--for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.
On the third time Peter swore with an oath that he wasn't one of Jesus disciples and then the rooster crowed to remind Peter that he had done what Jesus had predicted. I cannot imagine the thoughts that went through Peter's head as his heart sank when Jesus looked him in the eye.
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” but when Peter went out to weep bitterly, there was the dawning of a new day. Peter was guilty of resisting God’s will. Judas was guilty of the basest kind of treachery.Peter failed while he was on trial but thankfully Peter’s failure isn't the end of his story. Peter would be restored and would be filled with the Holy Spirit to give him wisdom and strength to lead the early church.
- Warren Weirsbe
I need to remember:
- Self-confidence and lack of prayer is a good way to fail when I am on trial.
- Making promises to God that are outside of his plans is useless.
- Making promises within his will without relying on his strength is also useless.
Thank you Lord for your grace that offers me second chances. I have failed miserably when I have been tried by the fire. Help me to rely on your strength to do what you have chosen for me to do.