Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
When Jesus was arrested, “all the disciples left Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). It was not just Judas who betrayed Jesus–all the disciples abandoned Him. And that includes the one man you would least expect to turn his back and run: the apostle Peter. Just a few hours earlier, Peter had made this bold declaration: “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (Luke 22:33). And Jesus replied, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (v. 34).
Jesus once told Peter he was the rock, the leader of the disciples (Matthew 16:18). But when Jesus was arrested, the rock quickly turned to jelly. Luke 22:54 says, “They led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.” A lot of followers of Christ profess they are going to do great things for God, but when the heat is turned up, they drop back. That was Peter.
At the house of the high priest, Jesus began a series of six trials. Meanwhile, Peter was out in the courtyard where he could hear everything that was taking place. Verses 56-57 say, “A servant-girl, seeing [Peter] as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, ‘This man was with Him too.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him.’”
Now look at verse 58: “A little later, another saw him and said, ‘You are one of them too!’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’” Notice this time Peter was denying the rest of the disciples as well.
Finally, somebody else fixed their gaze on Peter and insisted, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too” (v. 59). How did Peter respond to that accusation? Matthew’s account says, “He began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’” (26:74). That does not mean Peter let out a string of expletives. No, he made an oath to God calling down a curse upon himself if he was lying. Peter was basically saying, “I am not one of His followers. May God strike me dead if I am not telling the truth.” That is what you call the ultimate denial!
Luke 22:60 says while Peter was still speaking, the rooster crowed, just as the Lord had predicted. And Jesus, who was apparently close by, turned around and simply stared at Peter. Those eyes of Jesus, which Revelation 1:14 describes as “like a flame of fire,” burned into Peter’s heart, and Peter remembered the Lord’s prediction that Peter would deny Him three times. Verse 62 says, “And [Peter] went out and wept bitterly.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Longest Night” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.