COWARDICE OR COURAGE?
Powerful One, do something mighty in me and through me today. I long for a special touch from you.
Read MATTHEW 26:69–75
Peter Disowns Jesus
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Seek God’s help to know yourself better through this reading today. Pray for a path to overcome the weaknesses and shortcomings revealed.
Peter’s denial of Jesus comes so soon after his profession of unflinching loyalty that it’s easy to believe that his commitment was shallow. His immediate denial to the maid, and his curses when his Galilean accent identifies him to everyone, lead to his disowning Jesus completely. Only after his third denial does the cock’s crowing remind him of Jesus’ prediction. Some suggest this may not have been an actual cockerel crowing, but the name given to the trumpet call heralding the changing of the Roman guard. Whatever the source, the sound makes Peter painfully aware that Jesus knows him better than he knows himself.
William Barclay1 has a charitable view of Peter, seeing him less a coward than a man of ‘heroic courage’. He didn’t flee with the other disciples but, in his desperate desire to stay close to Jesus, put himself at considerable risk. He followed him into danger, into the very courtyard of the high priest’s house, and though he denied knowing Jesus to protect himself, his love for Jesus compelled him to stay there. His love was evident in tears of bitter remorse when he realized how badly he had let Jesus down.
Any of us, facing perils as followers of Christ, might find Peter’s emotional and spiritual struggle in our hearts. We take comfort from the fact that, despite his cowardice, Peter’s faith in Christ never wavered. Scholars believe that the reason this painful story is in the Gospels is that Peter told it to the early church. He wanted everyone to know that even though he failed Jesus in the hour of greatest need, he was forgiven, restored and entrusted with leadership in the church. What Jesus did for Peter, he can do for us. Peter’s story is not of human failure, but of Christ’s redemptive and healing love. It applies to us all.
Romans 8:38,39 assures us that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Lord, before you I admit I was born a devout coward. Dear Jesus, fill me with your courage and devotion so that I will always honor you.
1 William Barclay (1907-1978), Scottish writer of several NT Commentaries
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