Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise. (Mark 14:27-31)
Faith And Trials
Jesus knew His hour had come for His death, and He tried to prepare the disciples for what they did not know would happen. After eating the Passover meal, Jesus instituted the commemoration of His death, burial, and resurrection. He talked of His body and blood, but how much the eleven understood the significance is unknown. Jesus warns His apostles of something that would happen that night that would test their faith, and they would all fail. None of the men could imagine what was about to happen. Jesus was the miracle worker who walked on water, raised the dead, healed all diseases, and showed Himself to be the Son of God. None of the eleven could think Jesus would be dead in less than 24-hours. Their faith was innocent and naïve. The testing of their faith was about to be pushed to the limit.
Peter heard the words of Jesus and how everyone was going to desert Jesus at His greatest need. This confused Simon, and he reacted as his fellow apostles would respond. Nothing would happen to Jesus, and they would not allow harm to come to their Lord. Peter resounded confidently, and even if everyone forsook Jesus, he would not. Nothing would keep him from defending his Lord. Peter would prove this later when he takes up a sword against the mob. Jesus kindly rebukes the son of Jonah, telling him that night Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. Peter was incensed. There was no way he would deny Jesus. He affirmed without reservation that he, Simon, the son of Jonah, would never betray his Lord and would gladly die with Jesus. Bold words and courageous faith. Jesus knew that Peter would fail.
After the arrest in the garden, Jesus is taken to stand before the Jewish council. Peter follows closely behind but not too close. As the mob takes Jesus away, a servant girl recognizes Peter as a disciple of Jesus and asks him about it. Peter denies it. A second time, he is pointed out as a disciple of Jesus and denies it again. The third time, Peter is accused of being a follower of the man under arrest and vehemently denies knowing Jesus. The rooster crows, and the heart of Peter is convicted. Jesus turns and looks at Peter, and the lowly fisherman knows his guilt. Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. He said he would die with Jesus, and now he has denied knowing the man from Nazareth.
Peter’s trial of faith ended with despair. He believed himself valiant to defend the honor of Jesus and, by words, was willing to die with Jesus if it came to that. When the time came, and they arrested Jesus, Peter was nowhere to be found. His faith had failed him, and he ran away. Standing accused as a follower of Jesus and in the presence of Jesus, Peter denies his Lord three times. It is a tragedy that will haunt the apostle. For three days, he grieved as Jesus was dead and sealed in the tomb. But then Sunday came. Jesus arose, and Peter saw his Lord face to face. Later, Jesus would ask Peter three times if he loved Him, and Peter’s faith still wavered. The test of faith still measured weakness in the apostle.
The story of Peter unfolds in the book of Acts as Luke describes the work of the early church. Peter delivers a stirring speech convicting three thousand of their guilt. He goes on to do great work for the Lord in the kingdom of God. Peter opens the door of salvation to the Gentiles by God’s grace as he preaches to Cornelius and his household. Faith grows stronger every day, and the courage of Peter manifests itself in his work, his love for truth, and his dedication to the cause of Jesus Christ. Peter denied Jesus before the cross, but after the cross, Peter never denied his Lord again. The two epistles of Peter tell of a man of great faith and courage. Peter spends a lot of time talking about those who suffered for Christ. He encourages his fellow saints to rejoice in suffering for Christ. His faith struggled, but his courage grew. Jesus told Peter he would die a martyr’s death, and history points in that direction. Tradition tells that Peter was crucified and that when the time came for his death, he asked to be crucified upside down so as not to die in the manner of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today, faith can be weak, but with daily courage, faith can find victory in Jesus Christ. Peter denied Jesus but grew in faith and never again denied Him. Faith is something that must grow through trials and failures and challenges and victories. Peter’s faith became so strong he was willing to die for Jesus. No rooster crowed on that day. If there were, they were drowned out by the trumpets from heaven and the voices of the angels heralding the courage of Simon, son of Jonah.