Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. – Matthew 26:69-75 (NLT)
Peter shows his trademark courage by being close to the proceedings of Jesus’ trial. But he shows his self-preservation tendencies by denying that he knows Jesus. We all have self-preservation tendencies that cause us to do things we normally would not do. Peter is no different but the denial of Jesus is not the end of his story. Peter goes from someone who denies Jesus the night before he is executed to someone who puts himself in danger by preaching in the temple after Jesus is raised from the dead (Acts 3&4). Christian tradition states Peter was so bold for Jesus after Jesus’ ascension that he was executed for teaching about Jesus.
Have you had a moment where you were tempted to or actually denied being a follower of Jesus? How did you respond to that betrayal? Did you weep like Peter? How does it feel to know that denial doesn’t have to define you forever?