“Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people. Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest. As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. ” (John 18:12–27, NIV)How could he? Just days before this denial Peter was passionately proclaiming his unfailing devotion to Jesus the Messiah. It was Peter who would be the first disciple to confess with clarity that Jesus is the Savior, the son of the living God. But now, during the time when Jesus needs him the most, Peter denies he ever knew Him. How could he?
Maybe he dropped his guard. Jesus had asked His disciples to join Him in prayer while they were in the garden, but they did not feel the same sense of urgency. Instead of kneeling beside Jesus, they laid down their heads and they soon fell asleep. Perhaps if Peter understood the spiritual warfare that was being waged for the souls of man, he would have stood strong in the battle before him.
Maybe it was pride. He was offended when Jesus predicted his denial. Instead of asking for Jesus’ help, Peter impulsively claimed more courage than he possessed. Not too different than his offense when Jesus offered to wash his feet. Perhaps if Peter would have more readily admitted his weaknesses and fears, Jesus would have helped him understand what it means to find strength in Him when we are weak in ourselves.
Whatever the case might have been, Peter failed to proclaim what he claimed to believe…and we are no different.
Most of us will never face as intense a trial as Peter did. But moments of truth occur in our lives most every day. How will we respond to:
• Embarrassing circumstances when exposed as one who loves and follows Jesus?
• A situation that exposes your pride and calls you to admit your failure?
• A call to prayer even when you’re tired?
We all know the feeling of being paralyzed by surprise, fear or possible shame. And many times, like Peter, we confess Jesus as Lord, but by not relying on Him in our moment of need, we deny His power. May we always be on guard for the battle never sleeps, and spiritually speaking, neither should we. Let us humbly go before the Lord and find strength in Him that we do not possess on our own. Do battle on your knees and find strength in your walk.