Summary: Although there were clear warnings, Peter ignored those and denied Jesus. We may tend to be critical, but we have been guilty of failing to heed the warnings of the Spirit. Warnings left unheeded are of no value.
Driven to Denial
Mark 14: 66-72
The long night of pain and suffering for Jesus had begun, and the difficulty continued to mount. He suffered in agony, praying under a heavy burden in the Garden of Gethsemane. After His prayer had ended, Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, led a multitude, sent by the Sanhedrin, to arrest Jesus. He had been betrayed by one of His own, sold out for thirty pieces of silver.
Now Jesus stands before His accusers in the home of the high priest. We have considered the mock trial and the scandalous accusations brought against Him. It is during the great injustice of the trial that Jesus suffered another blow. This one must have hurt deeply because it was very personal. As Jesus stood before His accusers, Peter stood close enough to hear the words that were spoken, and yet he does not come to Jesus’ defense. In fact, Peter denied any association with the Lord. He would not deny Jesus just once, but three consecutive times that night.
As we look at the tragic details within this passage, I want to consider: Driven to Denial. As we do, I pray we will examine our own hearts and commit to standing for the Lord.
I. The Prelude to his Denial – As we begin to examine the devastating denial of Peter, we need to take a moment to consider what led to this point. The warning Peter received and ignored will be present for those who face similar situations today. Consider:
A. Peter’s Defiance (29-31) – But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.  And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.  But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all. Prior to entering the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had warned the disciples of His impending arrest, and their reaction to the danger. He declared they would all abandon Him that very night. Rather than heeding the word of the Lord and praying for strength and courage, Peter adamantly denied that he would do such a thing. In fact, he declared he would remain faithful if all others forsook Jesus, even to the point of death. We know that Peter missed a chance to pray and obtain spiritual strength in the Garden. It is evident that Peter is in a state of spiritual weakness.
There are important lessons we must learn from Peter’s struggles. Our moments of failure typically come when we are weak and distant spiritually. We must ensure we walk in close fellowship with the Lord, drawing wisdom from His Word, and walking in the guidance of the Spirit.
B. Peter’s Distance (54a) – And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: Here we discover another concerning detail regarding Peter’s spiritual condition. Although he continued to follow Jesus, he does so from a distance. He is not walking with the Lord, near to Him.
I realize we cannot imagine the horror, fear, and discouragement Peter felt at this moment. I do not want to merely throw stones at Peter and accuse him without merit. Likely we would have responded in a similar way or worse. However, this will always be one of the most telling signs that a fall is likely to happen. When we begin to follow our Lord at a distance, we are perilously close to compromise and failure. If you are following at a distance, you are already dealing with the prelude of failure and denial. Now is the time to recognize your distance and regain fellowship with the Lord.
II. The Particulars of his Denial – The passage provides particular details that contributed to Peter’s denial. These actions will always lead to devastation and despair. Notice:
A. His Location (54b, 66) – and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.  And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest. Having made his way to the home of the high priest, Peter has yet to get to Jesus. He is found sitting with the servants of the priest, warming himself by the fire. As he gained a bit of courage, he moved closer, but he still remained without, beneath the palace in the presence of the maids and servants. He is sitting among the Lord’s accusers, rather than standing with Jesus during His time of need.
We may tend to be critical, but I have witnessed this much too often. In fact, I have found myself in a similar situation at times. When we are content to abandon fellowship with the Lord, and find ourselves seated among the world, we are nearing a fall. The longer we remain among the world, the more comfortable we become with our new surroundings! We may argue we would never do such a thing, but greater men than we have fallen in times of complacency. David was a man after God’s own heart, and he allowed distance to create failure. We must guard our hearts while remaining close to the Lord and among those of like faith.