“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
How many times have you felt like Peter? In the Book of Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples that soon after His betrayal, they are all going to abandon Him (Matt 26:31). It is nothing against them, it is actually a fulfillment of a prophecy (Zech 13:7). As in conversations past however, Peter jumps right in to the conversation and says, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matt 26:33) Peter is basically saying, “Lord, you must be talking about everyone else. I would never leave you.” But Jesus knows Peter better than Peter knows himself (although you would think Peter would know better by now). He tells Peter, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (Matt 26:34). I don’t think He was mean when He said it, I think He said it lovingly. He was mad at Peter because God had a plan worked out, Peter just didn’t know it yet.
See, what we have to remember here is that God sees the big picture plan for our lives. The advantage Peter had here is that Jesus was telling him what was going to happen, before it happened. Jesus was giving Peter and the disciples a heads up about what was coming, trying to prepare them a little in advance. How many times have you responded to God like Peter, thinking that you know yourself better than God knows you? It is easy to get caught up in the moment, “Oh Lord, I would never do that!” God won’t argue with you about what you say, He will lovingly continue on with His plan.
Jesus was right about Peter. Peter first disowns Christ outside the courtyard of the High Priest (John 18:17, Luke 22:57). The second denial comes while standing around the fire (John 18:25, Luke 22:58), and the third denial almost immediately after that (John 18:27, Luke 22:60). Peter was completely unaware of what he was doing. It wasn’t until the rooster crowed that he remembered what Christ had said. At that moment, Peters gut sank to the floor. He suddenly realized that Christ had been right all along, and filled with shame, he leaves the courtyard to “weep bitterly” (Luke 22:62). Our pride can get in the way of us realizing our own weaknesses. It was pride that made Peter say he would never deny Christ and it was pride that kept him from seeing that he was doing exactly what Christ said he would do.
Here is the reason I think Christ told Peter about this and even let him do it. Remember that plan for Peter? God wanted to use Peter as a demonstration of what grace and forgiveness really mean. After Jesus has risen from the grave, He appears to some of the disciples while fishing. Peter does not recognize who it is at first, it is John who points out that it is Christ yelling to them from the shore. When Peter figures realizes who it is, he does not hesitate to jump in the water, fully clothed, and swim to shore before the boats could make it. All of his guilt, all of his shame, washed away because he had finally seen Jesus again. This was not the first time he had appeared to the disciples, but I think Peter saw Christ differently this time. Jesus never faulted Peter for what he did. He knew Peter’s pride would get in his way. He never says, “I told you so”. He doesn’t give him that knowing look, instead He asks Peter if he loves Him. Three times He asks and three times Peter says yes. I don’t think the three times where for Christ’s assurance, I think they were for Peter. Peter needed to hear himself say he loved Christ because he probably had been doubting his love since the rooster crowed. Jesus could have very easily walked away from Peter, but through grace, he reinstates Peter, telling him to take care of the new church (John 15-19).
Have you ever felt like Peter, so ashamed of something that you have let your shame come between you and Christ? Christ is there waiting for you. His loving grace and forgiveness are there to take away shame and guilt. He is waiting for you to see him waiting for you.