Peter’s Worse Denial

Matthew 26:35 “Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.’”

Observation: Though Peter boldly proclaimed that he would not deny the Lord even to the point of death, by the end of Matthew 26:75 he had indeed denied Jesus three times. But I wonder whether Peter’s more profound denial had not begun earlier, when he would not or could not remain awake to keep watch with Jesus. Jesus had asked Peter, James, and John to rouse to prayer, but each time, Peter and the other two disciples dozed off instead. The King of heaven and earth was stressed by the knowledge that He was about to endure separation from the eternal Father by taking upon Himself the sin of all the world—so stressed that He sweat droplets of blood. Yet Peter felt free to go to sleep rather than to support Jesus in prayer.

Application: Railing against Peter’s shameful behavior is no help. Reminding ourselves of the prayerlessness in our own lives and vowing to do better does no good. Heaping guilt upon oneself never changed anyone’s behavior for the better. Rather, I’m encouraged to look at the root of Peter’s problem. He claimed to have given up everything to be a loyal follower of Christ, but apparently not quite. He seemed to have retained some right to personal comfort, which led not only to prayerlessness but to denial, as well. When he needed rest or wanted rest, he felt free to treat himself to rest.

Compare his behavior to that of Jesus, who was surely as tired as Peter. Christ was the Rock who was about to be broken, not for Himself, but for others. He was sold out; Peter wasn’t. That would come later, but not now. Only those who, like Christ Himself, have surrendered everything, withholding nothing, will populate the kingdom of heaven—the table at Christ’s wedding banquet. For me and many others, personal comfort is the last thing we are willing to surrender. We want our TV and video games. We want to be comfortable in a nice home. We strive to build retirement security through a system that could be reduced to ashes at the first nuclear 9/11. We eat and drink as though nothing will ever change. But once our passion for Christ exceeds our passion for our own personal comfort, then we will rush to the prayer room; we will awaken early with a sense of urgency to meet with Him.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank You for identifying causes of prayerlessness in my own life. Stir such zeal for relationship with You as my bridegroom that even pursuit of personal comfort would be second place in my life. Cause me to want most of all to be a voluntary lover of my eternal bridegroom. Thank You, Father.

Leave a Reply