Scripture: 2 Kings 24, Jeremiah 22, Psalm 112, John 18
John 18:17 The girl at the gate said to Peter, “Aren’t you also one of the disciples of that man?”
“No, I am not,” answered Peter.
John’s description of Peter’s denial revolves around this question: “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?” Peter is asked this twice and both times he replies, “No.” The third time, he is simply asked, “Didn’t I see you in the garden (where Jesus was arrested).” And to this even less incriminating question (for there were both supporters and opposition to Jesus in the garden that night), Peter safely answers “no.”
Essentially, Peter disavows any connection to Jesus. He insists that he is not Jesus’ disciple nor was he anywhere near Him that evening. All this after his strong pledge of loyalty to Jesus even to the death.
Why the denial? Fear. Peter watched Jesus be arrested and beaten. His own survival instinct kicked in, and fear prompted his denials. Did Peter love Jesus? Yes. Did he mean it when he promised to die for him? Yes. Was Peter proud of Jesus? Yes. But fear drove him to denial.
Have I ever done this? Not so brazenly or openly. But I have let fear of others’ responses silence me. I have kept quiet when I should have spoken, or I spoke but without identifying with Jesus, because I was afraid. It’s foolish. “What can man do to me?”
Jesus warns us against this kind of fearful denial in Matthew 10:32-33 and Luke 9:26 (among others).
What is the solution? First, be filled with the Spirit. Spirit-filled Peter was fearless (most of the time). Second, identify and reject fear as a motivation. I often say to others, “Never make a decision based on fear.” This is true in the moment when we could clearly identify ourselves as followers of Jesus. Never let fear stop you.
Here are Jesus’ words on fear:
Matthew 10:26-31 “So do not be afraid of people. Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. What I am telling you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight, and what you have heard in private you must announce from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!
Prayer: Lord, help me to live fearlessly and boldly, and to clearly identify with Jesus in every situation. I never want to deny you in word or deed, but gladly identify with You.