Read: Luke 22:54-62
Jesus’ prophecy about Peter’s denial is fulfilled in a handful of verses. The quick succession of events is definitely a one-two-three punch that takes my breath away. I’m reminded of mistakes I’ve made in the past that follow Peter’s pattern of behavior. I think the denial events are briefly covered to document the actions while emphasizing the significance of Peter’s recovery. This will make sense after Jesus’ resurrection and reinstatement of Peter, the rock, which will cover in a matter of days.
For reference, each of the gospel writers provides their insight into Peter’s denials:
The weight of the word “deny” is heavy. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all use this word to predict Peter’s reaction when this event will occur. Luke 9:23 also refers to arneomai (Greek) as the mandate to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (see: Are You Sure You Want to be a Disciple?).
Setting the Stage
Luke sets the stage following the kiss from Judas in the garden.
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. Luke 22:54
The pace of events is quick, that’s important to appreciate. Peter doesn’t have much time to grab some coffee and come to his senses. This thing is going south quickly. There’s no time to step back and reflect, it’s happening now! Peter follows in the shadows, keeping his distance, trying to figure out his next move.
Denial One – The Servant Girl
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. Luke 22:57
Denial Two – Someone Else
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” Luke 22:58
Denial Three – Another Assertion
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Luke 22:59
The Rooster Crows
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. Luke 22:60
The arrest and interrogation of Jesus was apparently an event that people were talking about. The scene here is very early in the morning when the servants are getting things ready for their masters. In reading all of the accounts it seems like this all happens in a matter of a few hours. The disciples have been with Jesus for over three years and here we have something like three hours where everything changes — especially for Peter.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him… Luke 22:61
It’s not clear how this happened, but thrice denied, the rooster crows, and suddenly their eyes connect. Was it just a moment? A quick glance out the window as Jesus was being relocated for another session? We don’t know for certain, but there’s no doubt that Peter felt the eyes of the Savior when they connected.
The memories of Jesus’ prophetic words flood in and overwhelm Peter. He weeps bitterly, somewhere away from the servant girl for sure. What was once unbelievable, unimaginable, has now come to pass. He wasn’t the one who betrayed Jesus, not quite that bad, but how close is denial to betrayal? How often do we use second-order lies as a defense mechanism? “Did God really say…?”
The scene closes as the lights go black. No music. No applause. Quiet darkness.
If you’re still breathing, I’m sure you’ve had these moments, at least I know I have. The great news is that we don’t have to stay down. Jesus did in fact pay the price for our sin. He paid the price once and for all on the cross.
Lord, help us to surround ourselves with those who can remind us of the truth of the gospel, that we are free from the bondage of slavery to sin. May we be the church you dreamed of when you scattered us to go and make disciples of the whole world. And may we learn how to do this together, in harmony, each one doing his and her part.