Summary: Peter Denies Jesus Three Times (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

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Reading: John chapter 18 verses 10-18&25-27


• The Book of Heroic Failures, was written by Stephen Pile in 1979,

• It is a book written in celebration of human inadequacy in all its forms.

• My favourite story took part in 1978;

• During the fireman’s strike in England,

• The British army took over emergency fire-fighting.

• Drove the ‘Green Goddess’ rather than red fire engines.

• On January 14 the soldiers were called out by an elderly lady in South London;

• She wanted them to retrieve her cat who was stuck up a tree.

• The soldiers arrived with impressive haste,

• And they very cleverly and carefully rescued the cat.

• The lady was so grateful that she invited the squad of heroes in for tea.

• Later as they drove off making their fond farewells and enthusiastic waving of arms,

• They actually ran over the cat and killed it.

• Point: They could have been heroes but ended up as failures!

(3). The person.

• We often dwell on the negative side of this incident:

• And probably rightly so, because it was a shameful act.

• Ill: But every coin has two sides.

• This was both an act of cowardice, but it was also an act of courage!

(1) Remember Peter’s courage:

• Peter shows tremendous courage to put himself in this situation

• Remember as far as we know all the other disciples forsook Jesus & fled,

• Peter (and the secret disciple) refused to do so.

• Peter was willing to follow Jesus, even after he had been arrested,

• True, he failed;

• But he failed in a situation which none of the other disciples even dared to face!

• He failed, not because he was a coward, but because he was brave.

• It was his courage that took him into the courtyard;

• It was his courage which sadly ran out once he had got there!

(2). Remember Peter’s love.

• Peter may have acted unwisely and hastily but you cannot deny his devotion:

• Peter wanted to make sure Jesus did not face his accusers alone!

• Peter entered that courtyard determined to support his master;

• True, he failed;

• But he failed in unique circumstances,

• And remember his failure was out of character!


• It was the real Peter who protested his loyalty in the upper room;

• It was the real Peter who drew his lonely sword in the moonlight of the garden;

• It was the real Peter who followed Jesus into the courtyard;

• Because he could not allow his Lord to go alone!

• I would suggest:

• It was not the real Peter who cracked on this occasion:

• This a Peter acting out of character,


• Sometimes good people act out of character.

• When Abraham lied to Pharaoh about his wife, Sarah, he was acting out of character.

• Abraham was not a habitual liar. He was by and large a man of great integrity.

• But in that situation he blew it and blew it big.

• Remember that in the New Testament God does not call Abraham a liar.

• He calls him a man of faith.

• I would suggest:

• It was not the real Peter who cracked on this occasion:

• This a Peter acting out of character,


• Remember that Peter was naturally a very courageous person.

• If you were a betting man and woman.

• Out of the 12 disciples I guess Peter would be the very last;

• That we would have thought would be the disciple to deny the Lord.

• Remember that just a few hours earlier when Jesus had told his disciples;

• That they would all forsake him. “Smite the Shepherd and the sheep will scatter.”

• Peter was quick to respond to that,

• “Even if I have to die with you, I will not disown you.”.

• Peter had every intention of being true to his Lord to the very end.

• No one would have ever expected him to fail the way he did;


• None of us were surprised when in the Garden of Gethsemane;

• He impulsively pull out a sword and cut somebody’s ear.

• That is Peter in character.

• But none of us would have expected this big, burley fisherman;

• To back down when asked by a servant girl if he was one of Jesus’ disciples.

• Peter was probably considered the bravest man in the group.

• But this night he acts out of character.

• He is acting out of character because:

• He is physically tired & emotionally shattered by the sudden events of the night.

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