Three Times

Bible with scrabble tiles spelling LOVE

I would like to believe that no matter what man does to me, I will not deny that I know Jesus.  I imagine that is how Peter must have felt at one time too.  However, Jesus knew better.  Before His crucifixion, Jesus explained to Simon Peter, “…behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:  and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).  Peter’s response to hearing such was, “…Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33).  Matthew records that Peter said, “…Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matt. 26:33).  I do not question the sincerity of Peter’s statements.  It is entirely possible that Peter meant every word that he said.  Yet again, Jesus knew better.  “And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me” (Luke 22:34).  I can only wonder how incredulous Peter must have felt after hearing such.

        Later, just as Jesus had foretold, three times Peter denied knowing the Lord.  After the arrest of Jesus, the Bible indicates, “Now Peter sat without in the palace:  and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.  But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.  And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.  And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.  And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.  Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man.  And immediately the cock crew” (Matt. 26:69-74).  Keep in mind that this is the same man that earlier had been vehement about never denying that he knew the Lord.

          Indeed, Peter still need to be converted.  He was not quite ready to be as faithful as he had said.  When the realization of what he had done hit him, Peter’s reaction is fully understandable.  “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.  And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:75).  Paul wrote, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of:  but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Cor. 7:10).  Thankfully, Peter did not just feel sorry, but actually repented.  Later, Peter would have multiple opportunities to defend Jesus.  On the day of Pentecost, following Christ’s ascension, Peter preached a masterful sermon about the Lord.  He profoundly, yet simply, used Scripture to verify that Jesus was indeed, “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).  On another occasion, Peter readily affirmed, “…Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee:  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).  At those times, there seemed to be no hesitancy in Peter’s willingness to know, and acknowledge, the Lord. 

          Interestingly, Peter took the opportunity to teach some of his fellow Israelites, that they were also guilty of denying the Lord.  Luke wrote, “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this?  or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?  The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.  But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:12-15).  Peter definitely came a long way from where he previously was.          

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He had a conversation with Peter.  He asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” Peter responded, “…Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”  Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).  John indicates that Jesus then “…saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  Again, Peter’s response was, “…Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”  To which Jesus said, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:16).  Then, a third time, Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me”?  John wrote, “…Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?  And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.  Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).  I do not think that it is just coincidental that Peter had to affirm his love for Christ the same number of times that he denied knowing the Lord.  Peter was going to go and do great things, including becoming an elder in the church (1 Pet. 5:1-4).  It was imperative that Peter never deny his relationship with the Lord ever again.
~ Corey Barnette