In the Bible, the Gospel of Mark tells the story of a man who denied Jesus three times. This man, Peter, was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and had pledged to stand by him no matter what. But when Jesus was arrested and Peter was confronted by a group of soldiers, he denied knowing who Jesus was.
Peter did the same thing when questioned by a group of people later and again when he was before the High Priest. Why did Peter deny Jesus three times? Some people say that he was afraid and that his fear led him to deny Jesus. Others say that Peter was trying to protect Jesus and didn’t want to get him in trouble.
Still, others say that Peter was just trying to save himself and didn’t believe in Jesus. No one knows for sure why Peter denied Jesus three times. But it’s interesting to think about what might have happened if he hadn’t.
Who denied Jesus three times?
The answer to this question is found in the Bible, specifically in the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 14:66-72, we read that after Jesus was arrested, He was brought before the high priest, Caiaphas. Caiaphas asked Jesus if He was Christ, the Son of God. Jesus replied, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
At this, the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? You have heard His blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned Him as worthy of death.
Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophecy!” And the guards took Him and beat Him.
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was also with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
After a little while those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
This story is a powerful reminder of the human condition. We are all capable of denying Jesus, even when we think we are being strong. We see this in Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples. Yet even he denied Him.
This story also shows us the power of repentance
Why did they deny him?
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter followed him at a distance and denied knowing him three times. Why?
The simple answer is that Peter was afraid. He was afraid of being arrested and executed like Jesus. But there may have been more to it than that.
Some have suggested that Peter’s denial was part of God’s plan. That Peter needed to deny Jesus so that he could later repent and be forgiven.
Others have said that Peter’s denial was a way for him to identify with Jesus. By denying Jesus, Peter was identifying with Jesus’ experience of being betrayed and rejected.
Whatever the reason, Peter’s denial of Jesus was a turning point in his life. After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, Peter became a bold follower of Christ. He preached the gospel fearlessly and was even martyred for his faith.
So, while Peter’s denial of Jesus was a low point in his life, it was also a turning point. It was a reminder that he needed to rely on God’s strength, not his own. And it was a reminder that Jesus is worthy of our allegiance, even when it costs us dearly.
How did Jesus feel about their denial?
How did Jesus feel about their denial?
It is natural for anyone to feel disappointed and even betrayed when someone they thought was a friend denies them.
Jesus was no different.
In the hours leading up to His arrest, Jesus had tried to prepare His disciples for what was to come.
He knew that they would be tempted to deny Him and He even warned Peter that he would do so three times.
Despite this, Jesus still felt the pain of their denial when it happened.
He had loved these men and had spent so much time with them, teaching them and showing them the way.
And yet, when the time came, they deserted Him.
No doubt Jesus felt betrayed and disappointed, but He also knew that this was part of His plan.
He had to go through with it all to save us from our sins.
So even though the denial must have hurt, Jesus was willing to go through with it because He loved us that much.
What can we learn from their example?
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, all his disciples deserted him and fled. Only one, the apostle Peter, followed him at a distance as he was led away to his trial. Along the way, a servant girl recognized Peter and said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee” (Mark 14:67).
At that, Peter “began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak” (v. 71). A little later, as Peter warmed himself by the fire in the high priest’s courtyard, another servant girl said to him, “Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth” (Luke 22:58). Again, Peter denied it.
Then a little while after that, as Peter was standing by the fire, some people said to him, “Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee” (Mark 14:72). At that, “he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man” (v. 70).
Three times Peter denied that he knew Jesus. Three times he swore, using oaths. Three times he was cursed. Three times he lied.
Peter was afraid. He was afraid of being arrested and put to death like Jesus. He was afraid of being mocked and ridiculed like Jesus. He was afraid of being treated like a criminal.
So he denied Jesus. He lied about knowing him.
But Peter’s denial of Jesus was not the end of the story. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and became one of the boldest and most courageous men in the early church. He preached the gospel fearlessly and was even willing to die for his faith.
What can we learn from Peter’s example?
First, we learn that even the most faithful disciples can fall away when they are faced with persecution. When the going gets tough, our faith is often put to the test.
Second, we learn that it is never too late to repent and turn back to Jesus.
Joseph Bates is a teacher at the University of Holy Cross. He has served on the staff of Northern Baptist and United Methodist churches in Tampa, Ohio, and Florida.