54 They seized him, led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house. Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance. 55 They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, and Peter sat among them. 56 When a servant saw him sitting in the light, and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with him too.” 57 But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know him.” 58 After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too.” “Man, I am not!” Peter said. 59 About an hour later, another kept insisting, “This man was certainly with him, since he’s also a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
I would love to roll my eyes at Peter’s failure by the courtyard fire. After all, mere hours before this triple denial, the man had assured Jesus of his willingness to stick with Him even if it meant prison or death. Brave but hollow words that crumbled under the fierce strain of being noticed—not by a powerful official or Roman legionary—but by a servant girl.
Yes, I would like to give a little self-satisfied chuckle at Peter’s crippling fear of the powerless. However, the truth is, I have been just as impulsive in my own walk with the Lord and just as faithless.
On a good day, full of the joy of the Lord and an awe-inspiring sense of His presence, I might swear my fealty, thoroughly convinced in mind and heart of my ceaseless devotion to Him. I will do anything—even die for you, Lord!
But am I truly willing to live for Him?
Like Peter, my denials are not in moments of intimate fellowship with the Lord, but when I’m apart from Him, out in the cold and the dark, trying to determine my next steps. However, unlike Peter, my denials are subtle and more difficult to spot.
My repudiations are uglier and more hypocritical than Peter’s, because they occur when my proclamations of Jesus fail to match my actual responses to both hardship and pleasure.
Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek when struck, but I’m more apt to strike back in anger when hurt—literally or verbally. He calls us to lay down our lives for others, but my tendency is to defend my rights from them. He commands us seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; I often prioritize comfort, convenience, or even entertainment. He says forgive; I allow for bitterness and grudges.
And make no mistake, these actions and others like them deny the Lord’s trustworthiness and reality in far more destructive ways than words. By my idolatry of self and self-reliance, by seeking worldly things above His Spirit and Truth, and in all the ways where my words of devotion to Him are proven empty, His worthiness and goodness are discredited to a closely watching world.
Oh Lord, forgive my unbelief and overcome it! Shape me into a truly faithful and dedicated disciple who exalts You always in both word and deed. Amen.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- In what areas of your life do you deny the truth of our faith or the reality of Jesus by your actions or responses?
- How can you best show a world filled with anger, fear, and hopelessness that the hope we have in Jesus is true and worth any sacrifice?
- Pray for awareness of these sneaky denials in your life, and ask for help in better aligning your life with the one Jesus gave us an example of by His.
Pray through the day today for brothers and sisters in Christ in as many countries as you can think of. Pray that the global church would be strengthened and devoted in following Christ. See how many countries your family can think of around the dinner table and pray for the global church together.