Peter’s Great Failure and God’s Amazing Grace
“And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, ‘You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I neither know nor understand what you mean.’ And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’ And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.”
- Mark 14:66-72
We all love and understand Peter! When Jesus told the disciples that they would all betray him, Peter was quick to tell Jesus that he would not fall away. In fact, Peter claimed that even if he had to die with Jesus, he would not deny him or fall away from him (Mark 14:27-31). Peter is zealous and confident in his love and devotion to Jesus, but Peter does not comprehend what is to come and how his faith will be tested.
Despite all the times Jesus has told the disciples of his betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection, they don’t understand; they don’t want to understand. They want Jesus to prove himself as the promised Messiah and to build his kingdom on earth, not in heaven. They want to keep Jesus among them, for him to keep teaching them and guiding them as he has done for the past three years. I am sure it was unfathomable to think of their Messiah, their teacher, and their friend dying on the cross. How could the only perfect man and the Son of God be put to death through the most shameful and humiliating method imaginable?
Jesus knew the tests that were to come for Peter and for all the disciples. He had warned them, and he laid a foundation upon which they would come to understand and then to build. For now, they were in the trenches with Jesus. Would they stay or would they run?
Peter chose the latter. A servant girl and bystanders questioned Peter until he had indeed denied Jesus three times, exactly as Jesus had foretold. Upon hearing the rooster crow for the second time, Peter remembered the words of Jesus, and he saw himself for who he was – a broken man in need of a Savior. With all his zeal and confidence, Peter would deny the Lord in his hour of greatest need.
The example of Peter is there to challenge us and to encourage us. Most of us can relate to his zeal and passion for the Lord. We, too, want to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. We feel confident that we can sustain faith through life’s challenges; that we will walk with the Lord obediently for all of our days. And then we face our own times of questioning, places where our faith gets challenged. All of us have had times when our faith was tested, or we certainly will have times when our faith will be tested. At times we will fail like Peter, but through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, there can be even more times when we stand firm in our commitment to the Lord.
The Lord would call us to break down and weep in our times of failure but then to get right back up and start again. The grace of God covers us in our failures and then encourages us to learn, to grow, and to make new decisions that honor Christ. Reflection:
What do you learn from this experience of Peter, and how can you apply that lesson to your own life and faith?