The night before Christ was betrayed, Peter vowed to never deny Jesus. I believe that he never intended to deny Jesus at that point. Peter knew who Jesus was and, was surrounded by his friends, and with Jesus when he said this— I think he would have heroically died with Jesus right then and there.
But it was a more subtle denial that caught Peter off guard. He did not deny that Jesus was the Messiah or the Son of God… it was something different. It was the annoying accusation that he was a friend and associate of Jesus, coming being asked from some people that really did not matter to Peter that caused him to lower his guard; so he lied about his association with Jesus. He also might have also recalled that he had just cut the ear of the cousin of one the girl’s who was accusing him on being a friend of Jesus. Now was not a good time to be forthcoming about his intimate friendship with Jesus.
Peter was not prepared for the total weight of what Jesus said. He was not thinking about the “big picture” but rather of a still-shot: a single, simple heroic, picture of a final battle where He was faithful to the end. It brings to mind those that we are willing to die for something, but perhaps not always prepared to live their entire life for the same thing.
The more I study the Word, the more I see how prophecies made in the Old Testament, and the very ones that Christ and the writers of the New Testament referenced, seemed to be much larger than what first catches the eye. We tend to limit the scope of what was being foretold. We assume it means something rather narrow when in fact the meaning is quite grand.
Peter was warned that He would deny Jesus, and Peter probably assumed that the test to deny Jesus would be front of the other disciples. But Peter knew how to use a sword and defend Jesus—-he just attacked a guard and nearly killed him! But no, Jesus was not talking about the heroic episodes in our life, but instead the somber and reflective times when we have no audience and no one to support us (or snitch on us). Those are times we deny that we know, follow and are prepared to give our lives for Jesus.
No one denies their love or loyalty for someone when the beloved is present or when others that share that love are present. But how we respond to our identification with Jesus when there are only strangers around us can be frightening. Who are we, then, when no one who shares our love is present, to encourage, agree with or later chastise us in we fail to “hold the line?” I am afraid that’s the real man or woman you and I are. It was the authentic Peter that denied Jesus that dreadful night…..and Peter did not like what he saw. He departed and wept bitterly. It would take the supernatural breath of the Holy Spirit, many days later to change Peter. But the Holy Spirit baptized him with an unquenchable fire that truly changed Peter. Peter never again denied who Jesus was and what Jesus meant to Him after Jesus restored him (See John 21:17) and after Peter received the Holy Spirit.
Has He restored you? Have you been filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit?