John – God Speaks!
When trouble comes, who wants to remain as the one holding the bat after you hear the sickening sound of glass breaking?
Who is left behind when all others slink away in a discussion about what is right and wrong?
Who is the one who denies you were ever part of the group of “religious fanatics” who simply believe in Christ?
Who watches how the conversation is going but does not speak up for what Jesus says is right and good?
Depending on the situation, we have all been faced with choices to speak up, walk away, run before it gets heated, deny and/or be silent when it comes to our faith in Jesus.
The question remains “Don’t you belong to Him?”
We have all denied Christ when pushed into a corner, or faced with a problem we tried to handle all alone. “I can fix it” is our mantra before turning it all over to God. Could this be a form of denial? “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings” is another excuse. “If I speak up they won’t like me then I won’t be able to be heard at all.” Our actions will always speak louder than our words. They already know.
So…let’s not be too hard on Peter. He acted before he thought and cut off an ear of one of Jesus’ attackers. So there’s that. That proved his loyalty but not his wisdom in following God’s will.
Imagine how Peter feels as he warms himself by the fire just outside the building where his Master is being accused. He can’t stay away from the discussion but he is not going to leave Jesus either. He belongs to Him.
John 18, New Living Translation
Peter’s First Denial
Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 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.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19 Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. 20 Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. 21 Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.”
22 Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”
24 Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25 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.
LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK…
(With the help of Warren Wiersbe, Commentator)
The third question came from one of Malchus’s relatives! The Greek construction indicates that he expected an affirmative answer: “I saw you in the garden with Jesus, didn’t I? Yes, I did!” After all, this man had gotten a good look at Peter because he was probably standing with Malchus when Jesus was arrested. Some of the bystanders took up the discussion so that Peter may have been surrounded by challengers.
At that point, Peter’s resistance broke down completely. He began to “curse and swear” (Matt. 26:74). This does not mean that Peter let loose a volley of blasphemies, but rather that he put himself under a curse in order to emphasize his statement. He was on trial, so he put himself under an oath to convince his accusers that he was telling the truth.
It was at that point that the cock began to crow (John 18:27) just as Jesus had predicted (Matt. 26:34). There were four “watches”: evening (6–9 p.m.), midnight (9–12), cockcrowing (12 midnight to 3 a.m.), and morning (3–6 a.m.) (see Mark 13:35). The crowing of the cock reminded Peter of the Lord’s words, and he went out and wept bitterly.
The crowing of the cock was assurance to Peter that Jesus was totally in control of the situation, even though He was bound and being harassed by the authorities. By controlling one bird, Jesus affirmed His sovereignty. According to Genesis 1:26, God gave man authority over the fish, the fowl, and the animals. Peter had seen Jesus exercise authority over the fish (Matt. 17:24–27; Luke 5:1–11) and the animals (Matt. 21:1–11), but now he recognized His authority over the birds.
But the cockcrowing was also an invitation to repentance. Luke tells us that Jesus turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22:61), and this look of love broke Peter’s heart. Peter had been a witness of Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 5:1), and by his own denials he added to those sufferings.
Keep in mind that the crowing of the cock was the announcement of the dawning of a new day! “Weeping may endure for a right, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). 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” (John 13:30), but when Peter went out to weep bitterly, there was the dawning of a new day. It is the contrast between godly sorrow that leads to true repentance, and the sorrow of the world (regret and remorse) that leads to death (2 Cor. 7:9–10). We will discover that Jesus restored Peter (John 21) and enabled him to serve with great power and blessing.
In the garden that night, you would find both guilt and grace. Peter was guilty of resisting God’s will. Judas was guilty of the basest kind of treachery. The mob was guilty of rejecting the Son of God and treating Him as though He were the lowest kind of criminal.
But Jesus was gracious! Like King David, He crossed the Kidron, fully conscious that Judas was betraying Him. He went into the garden of Gethsemane surrendered to the Father’s will. He healed Malchus’s ear. He protected His disciples. He yielded Himself into the hands of sinners that He might suffer and die for us.
And THAT’S why we sing Reckless Love as it captures our hearts at the core…
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me…
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for reminding us that we are, like Peter, standing in need of forgiveness for going our own way, failing to do your perfect will. Thank you for loving us the way you do. Thank you for sending Your Son to die for our sin. Thank you for restoring our souls then inviting us to Your work! Your love is amazing. We are such a work in progress…but you know that and never leave us. Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen