THE denial of Jesus by Peter is one of the more famous passages in the Bible. In fact, it was one of the few events from the life of Jesus that all four of the Gospel writers mentioned. Here is Matthew's account (Matthew 26:69-75) of Peter's denial after Jesus' arrest: "Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. 'You also were with Jesus of Galilee,' she said. But he denied it before them all. 'I don’t know what you’re talking about,' he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, 'This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.' He denied it again, with an oath: 'I don’t know the man!' After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, 'Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.' then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, 'I don’t know the man!' Immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: 'Before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly."
YOU do know Peter understood what was being asked of him? He just feigned ignorance in order to save his skin. But I can't really blame him though. Fear can do some crazy things to our minds. Over the years, people have been pretty tough on Peter for his denial, and even worse on Judas for his betrayal. Both were terrible, for sure, and yet it's hard to criticize them when I've done the same thing, only in different ways.
TO deny, from the original Greek language, means to say no, disown, refuse, push away or exclude. Too many times I've said no or refused the Lord, and on many occasions. Even after I gave my life to Him. Huh, kind of like Peter. In all honesty, any time I commit a sin, whether it was intentional or even unintentional, I deny Christ. It's like I'm saying to Him, "I reject your way in order to go my own." At least when Peter denied Christ, there was a squad of Romans soldiers, armed to the teeth, and a band of pretty scary religious leaders present. When I've denied Christ, there hasn't been that much pressure on me.
JESUS said these words in Matthew 10:32-33, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my father in heaven." This is very similar to a denial of Christ and for that I am truly sorry for my refusal of Jesus in all the components of my life.
AS the story of Peter's denial proceeds, we see in Matthew 26:73-74 that on the final of the three denials, Peter began to call down curses on himself. "...Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away. Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, 'I don’t know the man!" Wow, those two verses are intense. To deny Jesus the two previous times was bad enough, but to end it with this kind of horrible response is so sad.
THE word "curse" is often misunderstood in our day and age. We tend to see it kind of like a spell, or being sent to hell, But it means so much more. It also means dishonored, shamed or disgraced. Pretty much what happened to Peter and has happened to me as well. Matthew, Mark and Luke write that after the denial of Jesus, Peter wept bitterly. Yes, he did call curses down on himself and now he must have felt very cursed.
I can't tell you how many times I have sworn my allegiance to Christ (like Peter) and then denied Him over some imagined fear. Even though I've learned that denying Jesus never works well for me, I still struggle to obey His Word and follow Him. Too often, I've said "No" to Him and then suffered the consequences (curse) of refusing His ways.
JESUS said in Matthew 7:24-27, "...Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
DENYING Jesus not only brings confusion to my life, but the curse of sin. Jesus, again, I receive you and your ways.