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Peter’s Denial


Mark 14:53-72  

In this study we see another man who betrayed the Lord, but who, when he repented had a totally different outcome than Judas – Simon Peter, a man who was a failure as a Christian, as a follower of Jesus, – just as we all are today, no matter how successful in life we may be – Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Yet Peter is the opposite of Judas – for when Peter repented, he returned to Christ and was forgiven and was useful as an apostle, a preacher, a church leader, – a believer.  But how did Peter become synonymous with failure, when he seems to have had such strength of character? Think about this for a moment…

  • Peter had great strength of leadership. He was a natural leader, always the first to speak up, and he was among the three disciples chosen by Christ for his closest companionship. He was present at the Mount of Transfiguration, Mark 9:2  and in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark 14:32  
  • Peter had strength of spirit.  Remember that time when he saw Jesus walking on the water, and Peter, boldly and impetuously, stepped out over the side of the boat, trying to be like the Lord… – and when the day of the resurrection of Christ came, –  who was it that ran ahead to the tomb, and discovered that the Lord had risen from the dead? It was Peter. John 20:1-4  
  • Peter seems to have been physically strong. He was a fisherman,  a man who worked a trawler, who wrestled with high seas, who pulled oars, – rowed to his fishing grounds,  and heavy nets – a man with great strength in his back and arms.
  • Peter was intellectually strong, Just because his work was physically hard, don’t think that Peter was a dullard. Remember that the great intellectual genius of the early church, the Apostle Paul was a tentmaker, a man who laboured all day with heavy canvas and huge needles to earn his living. Peter was a clever man too.   Matthew 16:13 -15  

Yet despite the many strengths of Peter he is a perfect illustration of the warning given by Paul, to the rest of us, in our human weakness and frailty, in 1 Corinthians 10:12 Peter, the strong man of the band of disciples, the chief of the apostles, the future leader of the church at Jerusalem, stood at the cross of Jesus as a failure. Let’s ask WHY!

1. The Shame of Peter’s Denial. Mark 14:53-72

READ the biblical narrative. Peter continued to deny that he knew Jesus, and eventually his denials took on a feverish note, and became more aggressive, V71 This was the very man who had insisted that he would never forsake his Lord and Master. Matthew 26:31 But he did. Why? Perhaps:

  • The pressures of this world? Peer pressure? Peter was sitting, taking his comfort from the place where the enemies of Christ, ungodly people would be gathered! Surely it must have occurred to him that the household of the High Priest would not be a place where a Christian should go to find company! 1 Corinthians 15:33-34   
  • The weakness of the flesh? Maybe Peter thought that since he was such a strong and determined man, he could stand in his own strength.  
  • The work of the devil? Maybe Peter misunderstood the words of Jesus in Luke 22:3  Perhaps he didn’t realise that Satan was such a powerful enemy, his devious methods, his fearsome countenance and his malign intent. 1 Peter 5:8

Any of these reasons might cause any of us to stumble. Many people, many believers have failed the Lord, on many occasions, – Peter denied Jesus three times and on each occasion his betrayal and denial became more vehement and more insolent.

2. The Sorrow of Peter’s Denial.

Peter, in the company of the enemies of the Lord, has denied his Saviour. But his conscience is beginning to trouble him, very deeply. V68, V72  He wept. That weeping was…

  • A sign of repentance. Peter has sinned and he is in deep sorrow, -he is weeping. But the first step on the way back to God from the dark paths of sin, as far as the human response is concerned is regret and repentance. To be sorrowful, sorrow that is brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction of sin. READ 2 Corinthians 7:10  
  • A step toward recovery. This God-given sorrow WORKS repentance. Sorrow and regret over our sin prepares us and produces in us the disposition to come before the Lord in prayer and like the publican in the temple, to bow our heads in shame and say, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.” And that’s the key, our repentance MUST be brought to the Lord Jesus Himself.

Now note carefully the difference between Peter and Judas. Judas expressed his regret and his repentance to the established church of the day, to the clergy, who couldn’t and wouldn’t help him. Luke’s historical account of Peter’s sorrow adds another detail. He wrote, in Luke 22:61 Peter looked upon Christ, and he did so with a broken spirit and a contrite heart! Psalm 51:16-17  

3. The Solace for Peter’s Denial.

For Peter there was great comfort to come. There is such a burden lifted off of those who come to Jesus. That’s the good news for all of us. Romans 6:23  No matter how deep our sin. No matter how dark our past, no matter what others think of us, there is hope in Christ, and there is pardon and new life in Christ.

  • Peter sins were all forgiven including this terrible act of treachery.  Jesus himself had taught Peter and the other disciples that day on the mountain,  Matthew 5:3.” 
  • Fellowship too! All our sinfulness stems from our broken relationship with God, now restored in Christ. In Him we have direct access to the Father, and an eternal home in his everlasting kingdom.

Peter was forgiven. He wasn’t perfect, for later on Paul tells us that he had to reprimand Peter directly for hypocrisy! Galatians 2:11 But as a forgiven sinner, he was used by God in the work of his kingdom.  After the resurrection of Jesus, the Lord spoke to Peter, in John 21:17  

All of us are failures! All of us are sinners. All of us, like those people testifying years ago, have let the Lord down. But sinful failure and denial don’t have to mean eternal loss. Like Peter we can turn to Christ for forgiveness and pardon, confident that for those who truly repent, with god-given sorrow, he will never turn us away.

© Bob McEvoy 2023

One Comment
  1. dubbleh permalink

    Hi Bob Listened to a serm

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