Mark 14:66-72: Denying Jesus
May 20, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
“I do not know this man of whom you speak.” Pressure does strange things to people, and Peter, so loyal, so bold, is exposed in his weakness as being willing to deny the Lord who a few moments ago he was fighting to protect. Such is fallen humanity, such are we all, such was Peter. Note the boldness of Peter to follow Jesus so closely at all.
Peter is warming himself by the fire. A servant girl appears to recognize him as one of the disciples of Jesus, but he denies it. But his denial is, as Shakespeare would say, suspect for it appears that “he protesteth too much”: “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” He goes out into the gateway to escape from the potential exposure, but the servant girl starts saying to the other people around, “This man is one of them.” Peter must feel that he is in significant danger, and again he denies the Master that he swore he would never deny.
Finally, the bystanders who have been instructed by the servant girl start to credit her opinion. There is something about him that makes it clear that he is from Galilee too—perhaps his accent gives him away. He is from the unsophisticated northern part of the territory, and here he is in Jerusalem, near the religious elite. Every time he opens his mouth he gives away the fact that he is a Galilean, and so likely as not to be a follower of the Jesus who is called Christ. But he denies it again. He began to invoke a “curse on himself and swear.”
Peter is losing the plot. Whether out of fear, weakness, lack of conviction, or the sheer pressure of the emotion of the circumstances—whatever the emotional resonance of the sin of denying Jesus—for whatever reason Peter denies Christ three times. Just as Jesus predicted. With the crow of the rooster, Peter is reminded of what Jesus had told him (that he would deny Jesus). Realizing that he has done what he promised he would not do, this big tough fisherman “broke down and wept.”
Peter is not the only one to have denied Jesus. It is of great encouragement to us all that this Peter becomes such an important shepherd in the church of Jesus Christ. God is the God of second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances: he loves us as we are, dies for sinners like us. That does not remove the pain of denial or sin—witness the anguished tears of Peter—but it does mean that when we turn from our sin, there are the ever waiting arms of our loving God to welcome us prodigals back again, embrace us, and restore us to his favor and joy.
Do not deny Jesus, whether in word or deed. But if (when) you do, remember: he who says he has no sin deceives himself, but if we confess our sins to God, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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