That’s how the Apostle Peter is often remembered. Never mind that He was first among the Twelve to declare of Jesus, “Thou art the Christ! The Son of the living God!” Surely, he scores some points for that, but Peter is best recognized for being once, twice, three times a denier. We can’t be too hard on the floundering fisherman, though. We’ve all done the same one time or another. I know I have.
Is he calling out to you?
Shortly after coming to faith, I appeared on the television show The Dating Game. I wanted to make an impression, and wasn’t about to come off as a goody-two-shoes. Needless to say, my flesh got the best of me. When the show aired months later, one of my unsaved friends happened to watch it. He said to me:
Though he meant it as a compliment, I felt terribly ashamed. He was commending me for denying Jesus. With every question asked by the bachelorette, I denied him – more times than three. And when my worldly friend called me ‘cool’ I heard it:
Yeah, I get Peter. I understand what it means to wimp out. And to a small degree, I understand how he felt after the rooster crowed. John, tells the story like this:
“And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” (John 18:15-17)
The disciple that got Peter in the door was most likely the apostle John. He used his connections to get his fishing buddy close to Jesus. But, as you might expect, someone stood in the way. This time it was a servant girl. “You’re not one of those, are you?” she pressed accusingly. “Not another Jesus follower!” We’ve all encountered people like this, haven’t we?
It safest just to say “No.” However, if you haven’t discovered already, denying Jesus also opens doors – the wrong doors where we find ourselves doing the wrong things with the wrong people.
“No, I’m not a disciple of Jesus.” Peter tells the slave girl. “Then join our happy group,” she smiles, “Meet us at the bonfire! We won’t leave you in the cold.” Here’s how John tells it:
“Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” (John 18:18)
He meant it at the time. That was then; this is now. Here we find him at enemy’s fire. He stood with them. It was safer, less hassle. Can you relate?
It’s easy to profess Christ among Christian friends, but what about out there in the real world? Who do you stand with? Who are you warming up to? The world isn’t so warm when you stand with Jesus. Some give you a cold shoulder. They’ll only warm up to you if you deny the Lord. It can be tempting. We want to be warm and comfortable. But luke warm doesn’t set well with Jesus. It makes Him gag. That’s why we must ask ourselves: Am I living for Christ? Or am I living for comfort? One takes courage. The other doesn’t. As for Peter, he wussed out.
“Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!” (John 18:25)
This is what happens when you warm up to the world. It’s a slippery slope. Things rapidly go downhill. This is Peter’s second denial. Matthew states that “he denied with an oath” the second time around. The third denial came an hour later
“One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.” (John 18:26-27)
Both Matthew and Mark note that Peter was cussing and swearing the third time he denied Christ. After the third denial: Cock-a-doodle-doo! It was then Peter remembered what Jesus had told him. “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
His head was bruised and bloodied by this time. The guards had blindfolded Him and beat His face. After their cruel prank, they led Jesus to His cell. It was then His eyes met Peter’s. Can you imagine? Peter lost it. Scripture says he wept bitterly.
I’d like for you to imagine seeing the wounds of Jesus after He’s been beat to pulp and pinned to a cross. You see blood flow from His brow and flesh torn from His chest. You see the nails jabbing through His hands and feet. When you look up, your eyes meet. Where do you find yourself? What side are you on as you gaze into those misty eyes of Jesus? Whose fire are you warming up to?
Do you realize that one day we’ll see Him face to face? Yes, your eyes will meet His. How will that be for you? Will you be ready? We’re to be watching for that day, looking forward to it and living in light of it.
Let’s not wait to gaze upon His face. Allow your eyes meet His today. If you must weep, do so now, that you might rejoice at His coming. May you be found standing in Him and not with them. May you hear those words: “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of the Lord.”
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660