Summary: This study is about Peter’s denial of Christ. But it’s about more than that. This passage is a descriptive picture of cowardly denial—the cowardly denial of both the world and a close disciple of the Lord’s.
When you look at tonight’s title you probably are saying that tonight’s study is about Peter’s denial of Christ, and you’re right. But it’s about more than that. Tonight’s passage is a descriptive picture of cowardly denial—the cowardly denial of both the world and a close disciple of the Lord’s. It graphically shows what the Lord faces day by day in too many lives. Let’s get into the study.
READ 12-14. So Jesus is arrested, bound, and taken. He was led to Annas. Annas had been the High Priest, but he was not now serving. His son-in-law Caiaphas was the present High Priest, but Annas still had a great influence. The trial before Annas was an informal trial, and the plot was being carried out under the shadow and secrecy of darkness. Jesus’ time to die was now beginning.
READ 15-18. Here we have Peter’s unnecessary denial of even being associated with Jesus. Peter and some other disciple followed Jesus up to the gate of the High Priest. It’s not known for sure but the other disciple was probably John because this account reads like an eyewitness account. Whoever it was, it was this disciple who knew the High Priest personally.
John’s father, a very successful businessman, apparently provided fish for the palace. John was therefore well known to the palace employees. Notice that he was allowed entrance into the palace and arranged for Peter to enter the palace.
I said that Peter’s denial was unnecessary. Let’s note three points about this:
1. Peter was innocently questioned by the door-keeper. She knew that John was one of Jesus’ disciples. Since Peter was associated with John, she assumed that he was also a disciple of Jesus. She was either just carrying on conversation or else asking Peter for some identification. There seems to be no threat or danger to Peter whatsoever.
2. Peter denied any association with Jesus and gave a blunt denial, “I am not.” The point is that Peter was a close friend of John because John had made a very special request for Peter to be admitted into the palace. The gate-keeper was bound to think such a close associate of John’s was also associated with Jesus. Peter very simply failed his Lord by denying any association with him and pretending not to know Him.
3. Peter made an attempt to be known as one of the crowd. He joined the crowd, standing around with them and joining in their conversation.
Too many deny being associated with Christ. People see us in church or associating with other believers—innocently see us—thinking nothing about it. But when and if asked, we deny any association with Christ. It might call ill feelings or separate us from our coworkers or friends or even family.
Too many pretend not to know Christ when out in the world at their job, school, social functions, among their neighbors, friends or even strangers. Why is that?
Too many try to fade into the crowd, trying to hide their faith by joining in with the crowd. Standing with and trying to blend in with the crowd will always cause a believer to deny his Lord.
READ 19-24. Now we see the world’s unjust denial. We have five scenes here in this passage.
Scene 1: Jesus was asked to incriminate Himself. He was asked about His disciples and asked to prove His doctrine and His claims. How much like the world. The world will ask about Jesus’ teaching, but their purpose is not to learn His teaching, not to allow him to prove His claims, not to justify His claims, not to secure direction and wisdom from Him.
The world asks about His teaching to disprove it and to incriminate Him and His followers. The world really wants nothing to do with Jesus.
Scene 2: Jesus’ reply was forceful. His teaching and claim had been declared publicly. He had done nothing in secret. His doctrine was not one message for the public and another message which he followed in secret. He had openly and clearly proclaimed the truth, and the world knew exactly what He had taught and claimed.
Scene 3: Jesus was reacted against and mistreated. He was slapped in the face. This is a picture of how the world mistreats Jesus. Throughout His whole ministry, Jesus had insisted time and again that He was the Revelation of God, the Son of God. Yet the world shut its ears and reacted. It wanted nothing to disturb it, not even its religion.
Today, the world’s religion allows a person to continue in their own way and do pretty much as they wish and still feel acceptable to God. Just think how few religions, how few churches, how few priests and ministers proclaim the true teaching of the Lord Jesus. So few are willing to sacrifice their lives for the world and all they are and have in order to reach a lost, starving, and diseased world.