Why Did Peter Deny Jesus?

By: Bill Bratt 

Jesus prophesied that all of His disciples would be offended by Him.

Let's turn over to Matthew 26 verse 31, "Then Jesus said unto them, "All of you will be offended because of me this night: for it is written, "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered." {32} But after I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee." {33} Peter answered and said unto him, "Though all men shall be offended because of you, I will never be offended." {34} Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto you, That this night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." {35} Peter said unto him, "Though I should die with you, I will I not deny you." Likewise also said all the disciples."

Now let's look at a couple of verses in the book of Luke, chapter 22 verse 31, "And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: {32} But I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail: and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren."

Notice that faith is involved and Peter was not converted.

Jesus prayed that Peter's faith would not fail. What can we do so that our faith will not fail? The apostle Paul said in Romans 10 verse 17, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

The "Word of God" and the Words of Jesus are recorded in the Bible. We must read and study the Bible to increase our faith.

Verse 31 of Luke 22 also says, "when you are converted." So Peter was not converted. The Holy Spirit was not given until Pentecost. We need Godís Holy Spirit to be a Christian and a son of God. Paul said in Romans 8 and verse 14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."

What is required to be converted? Acts 3 verse 19 says, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." So conversion is a process, a life long process. We must repent, be baptized and receive God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Now let's notice Peter's denial of Jesus.

Matthew 26 verse 69, "Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee." {70} But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying."" This is Peter's first denial.

Verse 71, "And when he had gone out to the porch, another maid saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth." {72} But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!"" This is Peter's second denial.

Verse 73, "And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you." {74} Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed."

This is Peter's third denial.

Luke 22 and verse 61, "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." [62} And Peter went out and wept bitterly."

What was the reason behind Peter's denial of Jesus ?

There are two more reasons why Peter denied Jesus: weakness and fear.

After the Passover meal that Jesus had with His disciples (Lule 22), He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to await His arrest. He told them to stay awake and pray (Luke 22:40) while He went off to pray alone. When He returned to them, He found them sleeping (Matthew 26:40). He warned Peter to stay awake and pray because, although his spirit might be willing, his flesh was weak (Mark 14:38). But Peter fell asleep again, and, by the time the soldiers had come to arrest Jesus, it was too late to pray for the strength to endure the ordeal to come.

There is only one way to overcome your weakness and that is through prayer.

Peter overcame his weakness and he exhorts us in 1 Peter 5:8, "Be on the alert, because your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Prayer is important. Daniel prayed three times a day (Daniel 6:10). My goal every day is to pray 30 minutes a day. We need to "Draw near to God so He will draw near to us (James 4:8) and we can do that by using our spiritual toolbox of prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting.

Another reason for Peterís denial of Jesus was fear. To his credit, although all the others had fled (Mark 14:50), Peter still followed Jesus after His arrest, but he kept his distance so as not to be identified with Him (Mark 14:54).

Peter was afraid that Jesus would die, and he was fearful for his own life as well. The Jewish religious leaders hated Jesus. Earlier, Jesus had warned His disciples as well as us today, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first" (John 16:18; Matthew 24:9). John recorded Jesus having said, "If they persecuted me, then they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).

The world in which Jesus and Peter lived was under Roman occupation. It was probably a common sight to see crucifixions of criminals, those accused of sedition, on crosses on the major roads as a witness to the people that they had better obey Roman law.

Peter quickly found that he wasnít nearly as bold and courageous as he had proclaimed, and in fear he denied Jesus who had loved him.

In conclusion:

Why did Peter deny Jesus? Peter was not converted. We are converted.

Peter lacked faith. We can increase our faith by reading and studying the Bible.

Peter was weak. Jesus told Peter to stay awake and pray. We need to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Peter was fearful of losing his own life and he denied Jesus who loved him. We need to overcome fear by putting our trust in God (Psalms 7:1, 18:2, 25:2, 40:3).

Jesus gives us a very severe warning in Matthew 10 verse 32, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. {33} "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."

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