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.” 71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” 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!” And immediately a rooster crowed.
I like preaching on Peter. One friend says I am picking on poor Peter. Not really, I just identify with Peter. He right out there on the front line. Sometimes he is right on (confessing Jesus as the Messiah, walking on the water [btw, if Peter was on the water, where was the other 11 disciples? Yeah, still on the boat]). Sometimes he was a bit off (forbidding the Lord to die and being called Satan and sinking into the water). At least things happened while Peter was around. The question for us this morning is: How did Peter get to the point where he denied Jesus?
31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
We see here what the KJV calls a haughty spirit.
18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Haughty-OT:1363-gobahh (go’-bah); from OT:1361; elation, grandeur, arrogance: -excellency, haughty, height, high, loftiness, pride.[i]
Or as we use to say “he is full of himself.” When we get to the point were our attitude is “no, not me” instead of “there but for the grace of God go I” watch out, we are in trouble and heading for a fall. I have not have a drink in years, and I can think “I’ve got this thing licked and I will not drink anymore” but that kind of thinking can lead to trouble. Sometimes when I am walking into one of those connivance stores with their alcohol ads in the windows and my mouth automatically starts watering. I get back in my car and drive off and pray and go to a different store where the temptation is not so strong. Sometimes we have to take the example of Joseph and RUN like he did from Pothphar’s wife.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
Watch: NT:1127-gregoreuo (gray-gor-yoo’-o); from NT:1453; to keep awake, i.e. watch (literally or figuratively): KJV – be vigilant, wake, (be) watch (-ful).[ii]
Peter was sleeping when he should have been praying. There is a saying that seven days without prayer makes on weak but prayer is commanded of God and neglecting it is to our own detriment. Verses like “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and “men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Prayer (along with Bible Study & meditation on the Bible) keeps our minds and hearts turned towards God.
57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.
He followed at a distance. Lack of prayer and communion with God always makes Him more distant. But if we are honest with ourselves we know it is us who moved away and not Him. Peter chose to follow at a distance weather it was fear of being found out or something else.
We too need to examine our own lives. Are we as close to God today as yesterday, last week, last month, last year. If it is yes to any of these we are backslidden and need to draw back towards God. As James tells us:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Here we see the trouble and the answers:
- Submit (put yourself under the authority of God) then satan will flee.
- Draw near to God. Basically God is immutable, He never changes so if we draw closer to Him, He will be closer to us, He will not change or keep moving farther from us!
- Humble yourself. Bow down before God as the Lord of your life and He will lift you up!
54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
The falling away continues, and Peter is now sitting with the enemies of the Lord. We know what the Bible says in Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
And the ways of the ungodly shall perish (v.6)
Peter is putting himself in a dangerous position.
56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 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 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
It is remarkable that in these three questions our Lord uses the verb αγαπαω (agapago), which signifies to love affectionately, ardently, supremely, perfectly – see the note on Mat_21:37; and that Peter always replies, using the verb φιλεω (philo), which signifies to love, to like, to regard, to feel friendship for another. As if our Lord had said, “Peter, dost thou love me ardently and supremely?” To which he answers, “Lord, I feel an affection for thee – I do esteem thee – but dare, at present, say no more.” [iii]
There is another remarkable change of terms in this place. In Joh_21:15, Joh_21:17, our Lord uses the verb βοσκδω, to feed, and in Joh_21:16 he uses the word ποιμαινω, which signifies to tend a flock, not only to feed, but to take care of, guide, govern, defend, etc., by which he seems to intimate that it is not sufficient merely to offer the bread of life to the congregation of the Lord, but he must take care that the sheep be properly collected, attended to, regulated, guided, etc.;[iv]
So Jesus commissions Peter and tells him he will fulfill the promise he made about dying for Him. We need to be careful what we say in the heat of the moment, God may very well hold us to it.
- Avoid pride and a haughty spirit. Don’t think more of yourself then you ought, flee temptation if necessary.
- Watch, pray, and develop a relationship with God. It will strengthen us for times of trouble.
- Watch your distance, stay close to the Lord.
- Submit yourself to God and humble yourself before Him. He is God and you are not. Let Him lead.
- Watch your company! Make sure you are hanging out with strong Christians, and finally
- If we fall we have a God that loves us and is willing to forgive us if we turn to Him in repentance:
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
[i] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[ii] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[iii] Clark Commentary John 21:15-18, E-Sword
[iv] Clark Commentary John 21:15-18, E-Sword