The Book of Luke, Thrice Denied - Lesson 234
Luke 22:54-62, Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priestís house. And Peter followed afar off. 55And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. 60And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
The disciples have fled from the garden of Gethsemane leaving
Jesus alone with Judas, the betrayer and the arresting band of temple guards, including the chief priests and the elders.
We are told in this account that Peter did not leave the area completely when the disciples fled, but waited afar off and then followed the arresting party at some distance as they led Christ to the house of the high priest.
John tells us in his gospel that another disciple, namely himself, also accompanied Peter.
But the gist of this passage concerns Peter and his thrice denial of the very Lord whom he had proclaimed to be the Messiah.
We are to remember the word of the Lord in the upper room, for Jesus Christ had prophesied concerning Peterís denials.
It was indeed the word of the Lord and we know that whatever the Lord prophesies will come to pass.
This prophesy of Jesus Christ concerning Peterís three denials came to pass very quickly, indeed within just a few hours.
Many prophesies of the Lord come to pass quickly, however many take thousands of years to come to pass but time is no hindrance to Godís word for Godís word will come about regardless of the time that passes.
We may tell our child that the switch is awaiting them at home and they may think that the more time passes the less chance that that switch will hit its target.
But that is not true with God.
There are scoffers who think that because much time has passed that God has forgotten his promises, that God has forgotten his word but this same thrice denying Peter wrote of these scoffers later in his second epistle:
3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Scoffers take comfort in great time periods.
But Peter goes on to say: But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
When Jesus Christ said that Peter would deny him thrice before the cock crowed that day, he could count on that more then he could count on the sun rising in the sky that morning.
Time may be a factor in us keeping our word, but that is not true with God.
Whether that which he prophesies takes place today or in a thousand years has no effect on Godís word.
God keeps his word and Peter learned that very clearly in the courtyard of the High Priest.
Peter had just come from the confrontation in the garden.
He did something there which in most circumstances like this would have been received by the leader with acknowledgment and great appreciation.
However that was not the case, and in lieu of receiving praise, his action with the sword was rebuked soundly by his Master.
This rebuke followed our Lordís rebuke of Peter for his and the other disciples lack of prayer with regard to entering into temptation, the temptation to hinder Jesus from doing the will of His father.
No doubt the accusation of our Lord that Peter would deny him thrice that day was still ringing in Peterís ears.
As we have seen in our study in Luke Peter has strong convictions about what he wants to see come his way as a result of his loyalty and service to Jesus Christ.
But his hopes in his Master are falling apart and what he wants to see come about is not to be.
What then can we expect Peterís thoughts to be.
What is his emotional state as he enters the courtyard of the High Priest?
Well, one thing that I believe we can eliminate from this equation is that Peter was acting out of fear or cowardice.
Peter is never portrayed in the scriptures as a fearful man.
On the contrary. Peter was a risk taker always willing to stick his neck out when other disciples held back.
Peter was the only one to venture out on the stormy Galilee and walk to the Lord on the top of the water.
The remaining disciples watched from the safety of the boat.
It was Peter who not only promised to stay with His Lord, even unto death, but was the first and only one to draw his sword and use it.
We know there was another sword there.
In the Garden, Peter was willing to die for His Master.
Hadnít he drawn his sword even in the face of overwhelming odds?
There is no fear displayed in that picture!
We do not see in this event a fearful Peter.
Even in the fleeing of the disciples from the scene there is the factor to consider that the Lord dismissed the disciples: 9That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
According to Johnís account, if the soldiers had not been so overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus, the disciples would not have been dismissed, but the miracle of the healing of the servantís ear occurred in order to fulfill the prophecy: Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. (John 18:4-9).
If the soldiers intended to arrest all of the disciples, they would have wanted Peter the most, for he was the only one, to have drawn his sword and used it.
Another indicator that Peter was not in fear was the fact that he went to the courtyard where the soldiers were, and where Peter could not only be identified as a disciple of Jesus, but also could be arrested for his assault against Malcus, the servant of the High Priest.
If Peterís denials were out of fear for his life he would have simply left and fled.
But Peter stayed in the courtyard, even after he had been spotted and identified as one of the men with Jesus.
Another thing to notice is that Peter only realized that he denied the Lord when the Lord looked at him after the cock crowed.
There seems to be a lack of understanding on his part as to his actions, until he heard the crow of the rooster and saw the face of his master which caused him to remember the word of the Lord.
If Peter were acting out of fear, you would have thought that he would have realized what he was doing, and that he would have felt guilty each time he denied the Savior, rather than only after the third time.
What then was Peterís emotional state?
Perhaps the answer is that he was simply very angry.
His hopes had been dashed.
He had followed this man for three years leaving all that he had.
He had seen his powers in action.
He had heard the promise of the kingdom.
He had envisioned himself in that kingdom.
He was convinced that this was the Messiah of Israel, who came to liberate his nation and he was ready to share in that liberation.
He was at the ready to fight and even to die for this man.
This man from whom in this late hour, he had only felt the continual sting of rebuke.
Peter had been frustrated all along that Jesus had it in His mind to die.
Peter tried to talk Him out of it but there again suffered the rebuke of our Lord and heard himself referred to as Satan.
In Peterís mind Jesus was doing all the wrong things.
Jesus could have called down fire from heaven, or 12 legions of angels, but He did not.
Jesusí arrest, Peter knew, was Jesusí will.
Knowing this, and having your own hopes of quick power and glory and prestige dashed, could have made Peter angry at the Lord and this is what provoked his denials.
Anger can provoke many responses even a response like "I donít know you", to someone who has completely let your down.
And I believe this was the heart of this disciple and what was behind his denials.
This of course is speculation.
Luke does not go into the heart of Peter but only reports what took place.
But what took place indicates that Peter only knew that he denied his master three times when the two events hit him right between his eyes.
It was the confluence of the cocking of the rooster and the sharp gaze of his masterís eye.
Jesus was somehow able to look Peter straight in the eye, at the very time that the cock crowed.
Peter was brought back to his senses realizing that he had done exactly as Jesus had said earlier that night (cf. Luke 22:31-34).
It was then that he went out and wept bitterly.
Jesus was able to communicate to Peter that those things He had foretold earlier in the evening had taken place, even though this was the "hour when darkness reigned."
Prophecy will be fulfilled for there is no holding back Godís word.
Jesusí words were prophecy, and they were fulfilled precisely at the time and in the way Jesus said they would.
Here is another example where we see Jesus Christ in control, even when life seems to be unraveling at the seams, at least for Peter.
All of this could have been avoided by Peter.
For our Lord had told his disciples to watch and pray.
Peter should have been praying in the garden for himself that he would not succumb to temptation.
But once he neglected asking for that grace there was nothing for Peter to do but fail.
Jesus Christ in his omnipotence knew what Peterís failing would be and therefore he could prophesy of the outcome of those failings.
The time for taking the right course of action was earlier.
Peter and the other disciples had not followed their Masterís word and therefore they had set themselves up to fail.
Jesus had told them this would be the case, so it was also in accordance with Godís purposes and prophecies.
There is point of no return.
There is a time when we can act, time enough to prevent failure.
But when that time to take evasive action has passed and we have neglected it, we are destined to fail, and nothing but divine intervention at that point in time can save us from ourselves.
That principle "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" always applies.
When you drive your car responsibly and make little adjustments in steering it is easy to stay on a safe course.
But when you donít, there is a point of no return to the safety of the roadbed.
Peter and the disciples were reckless in not obeying the word of the Lord in the garden and because of that recklessness Peter ended up weeping bitterly when he realized he had denied his Lord.
Some Christians pray and plead for deliverance after it is too late.
There is a time but there also is a too late time.
But we can be very grateful for a Savior who prays for us that even when we fail, our faith will not fail.
Jesus Christ is such a Savoir for in spite of Peterís three denials Jesus never denied him nor will he deny those who put their trust in Him for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.