Denying Jesus

Matthew 26:69-75

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”  But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”  And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”  But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”  And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”  Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”  Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter’s denial would be what we refer to in theological terms as “Apostasy.”  By definition it simply means “a turning away”. Denying Christ is serious.  It is a tragic and terrible sin, yet Christ forgives each sin, no matter how terrible it might be.  Christ forgave Peter, and in forgiving Peter He has demonstrated to us, you and me, His love and compassion. 

The cause of Peter’s denial was “apostasy.” He “sat without in the palace.”  He sat down with the crowd which represented the world of rejecters.  Peter was failing Christ and failing Him miserably.  Sitting down with the crowd was the last place he should have been.   Of course, he should have never forsaken Christ.  But having done so he should have been off some place seeking God in prayer, seeking answers and understanding from God.  Or, he should have been with the other followers of Jesus seeking answers from God so that they might understand and have direction in their lives. 

Three things that cause us to deny Christ.  All three things are seen in Peter’s experience.

He turned away, deserted and fled from Him.

Matthew. 26:56 – But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.  “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”

He “followed Christ afar off”: not walking close to Him, not standing or being identified with Him.

Matthew. 26:58 – But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

2 Timothy 1:7-8 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

He was “sitting without” or sitting with the crowd, not being where one should be.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 – Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate”, says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Thessalonians 3:6 – But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

Peter’s Denial was also by Pretension

Peter pretended to have nothing to do with Jesus, and even pretended to not even knowing him.  

Mark 8:38 – For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

I Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear

Pretending is one of the constant sins of men.

  • We are asked if we think something.  We do and deny it.
  • We are asked if we feel something.  We do and deny it.
  • We are asked if we fear something.  We do and deny it.
  • We are asked if we did something.  We did and deny it.
  • We are asked if we know something.  We do and deny it.

Too many believers deny Christ by pretension.  Very simply, they pretend not to know Christ when out in the world…

  • at their place of employment
  • at their school
  • at their social functions
  • among their neighbors
  • among their friends
  • among strangers

Pretension is two things: 

Pretension is hypocrisy.  It is pretending to be something we are not.

Pretension is denial of Christ.  It is a shying away from or lying about one’s confession of Christ.  Even in our silence we condemn ourselves because by our silence we are denying Christ.

Peter’s Denial was with an Oath

His denial by oath was strong and emphatic and strong.  He said: “I swear by God, I do not know the man.  I know nothing about Him.”  The denial that uses an oath downgrades Christ.  Here he says I never knew “the man.”  Earlier Peter had stated loud and clear “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Matthew. 16:16

Peter had sworn loyalty to Christ even if it meant death. 

Matthew. 26:33-35 – Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”  Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”  And so said all the disciples.

Matthew 10:33 – But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

2 Timothy 1:8 – Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.

In the first denial he was charged by only one person and he denied knowing Christ.  In the second denial he was charged by the crowd.  He felt more threatened; therefore his denial was stronger and more emphatic.  He used an oath.  The lesson for us is very clear.  The more we are among the crowds of the world, the more we are threatened with ridicule, embarrassment, abuse, and persecution for our profession in Christ.  And the more we are threatened, the more likely we are to deny Christ.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 – Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord.  “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.”

I John 2:15-16 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

There is a strong warning for us in Peter’s denial:

  • Peter was a strong disciple
  • Peter knew and had trusted Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God.
  • Peter had a strong profession of loyalty to Christ.
  • Peter had just partaken of the Lord’s Supper, the very first.
  • Peter had left all to follow Christ.
  • Peter had been taught about God, taught by Christ himself.
  • Peter had even been forewarned that the flesh was weak and that he would fail.
  • Peter’s Denial was with Cursing and Swearing

Peter’s denial were progressively worse:

  • In the first denial, he simply responded that he did not know the Christ.  He just evaded the issue.  He sinned. 
  • In the second denial, he used a socially acceptable oath (although it too was wrong and sinful).  He committed apostasy, and infidelity.  He sinned.
  • In the third denial, he declines swiftly into depraved cursing, totally unacceptable to righteous hearts and pure minds and clean lips.  He committed perjury and blasphemy.  He sinned.

Ephesians 5:11 – And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Titus 1:16 – They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

2 Peter 3:17 – You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.

Proverbs 4:14 – Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.

The Answer to Denial – Repentance

He remembered the words of the Lord, for when he heard the rooster crowing, and eye to eye with the Lord he realized what he had done.

Luke 22:31-32 – And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren

Getting alone he left the porch or courtyard as fast as he safely could.  He rushed out through the gate into the night to get alone with God, and there he was broken and full of shame, pain and anguish, and he wept bitterly.

He repented and experienced godly sorrow.

2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.         

I John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 8:22 – Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

Proverbs 28:13 – He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy