Sermon: Peter’s Denials and Peter’s Repentance Matthew 26:69-75

Truth Taught- Peter was brought low and cut to the heart by the realization of his sin and the clear reminder of Jesus’ words.

Introduction

Today, we are going to look somewhat in depth at Peter’s collapse under pressure.  He denies knowing Jesus three times just like Jesus said he would only a few hours before. 
Aren’t you glad that God forgives sin? 
We could point our fingers at Peter as he denies the Lord three times, however, the truth is we have done the same.  Rather than slamming Peter, let’s rejoice that God forgives sin because we all need to be forgiven.

We will look at Peter and perhaps learn some strategies so that when we are in threatening situations, we might stand firm but I also want to look to the Lord’s grace that He shows Peter and, as His people, He will show to us as well.

Exodus 34:5–6 (ESV) 

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 

 
Micah 7:18 (ESV) 

18  Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity 

and passing over transgression 

for the remnant of his inheritance? 

He does not retain his anger forever, 

because he delights in steadfast love. 

Here in our text, we will see the sinfulness of the flesh.  Peter is afraid and denying Jesus is his flesh seeking self-preservation.  This will be something that Peter will never do again as long as he lives.  Jesus grants Peter repentance.    

Matthew 26:69–75 (ESV) 

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. 

1.  Peter’s First Denial: The Weakening of Faith

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”

Confident Peter begins his downward fall into complete and utter denial of Jesus.  When faced with a potential threat even from this simple servant girl, the same Peter who claimed that denial was outside of the realm of possibility is very quick to say, when asked about Jesus, I do not know what you mean.

Peter doesn’t know the evil of his own heart.  

Matthew 26:30–35 (ESV) 

30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 

When Jesus was arrested, we read…

Matthew 26:58 (ESV) 

58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 

This verse sets up our text today.  Peter is sitting in the courtyard while Jesus was inside being condemned for blasphemy. 

Many praise Peter here by saying, well at least he was still there and did not completely leave Jesus.  That’s not true.  He left Jesus but was simply wanting to see what happened.  Peter had one foot in the physical world and one foot in the spiritual world…he had left Jesus. 

If you think you can live in the world and be of the world and then also be a Christian you have committed a grave mistake. 

1 John 2:15–17 (ESV) 

15 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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 

Luke 17:33 (ESV) 

33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 

The point here is that Peter’s boast is proven false.  Jesus did, in fact know the true condition of Peter’s heart; He knew it better than Peter did.  Peter was not willing to be loyal to Jesus, even unto death.  The shocking reality was that even when questioned by a simple servant girl Peter caved.  

2.  Peter’s Second Denial: Denied Jesus with an Oath

71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”

Peter now moves further from Jesus.  He was in the courtyard and now he is at the gate.  At each denial his physical location in relation to Jesus gets further and further away. 

His denials get more and more intense.  Now, it was another servant girl with a few others.  These were just no-name people.  Just a small group.  That was enough for Peter to further deny Jesus.  This time he does so with an oath. 

I swear was probably the oath.  I promise I do not know the man.  

She did not even speak directly to Peter.  The text indicates that she was actually speaking to the group about Peter.  This man was with Jesus of Nazareth

An oath was made with God’s presence being acknowledged.  Peter was calling on God to affirm his lie.  Peter is sinking fast.  So, Peter lies and then says something like, as God is my witness…

Peter’s arrogance is being removed one denial at a time.  How far will humanity go when the pressure is applied?  Honestly, there is no telling how far mankind can fall, how evil people can be when enough fear and pressure is applied.  

Paul gives us this truth to think about…

1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) 

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 

The moment we think we are invincible, that’s when the wheels fall off.  Realize your complete weakness and dependance on Jesus.  Paul tells us that its when he was weak that he was the strongest.

3.  Peter’s Third Denial: Denied Jesus with a Curse

73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” 

It was about an hour later when some people approach Peter because they recognize him and because his Galilean accent gave him away.  

John 18:26 (ESV) 

26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 

As the accusations became more and more specific so Peter’s denials became more and more extreme.  Now with His third denial he seals it with a curse.  The Greek here is very extreme.  A curse in ancient Judaism was to call God to take your life if what you are saying is not true.  May God kill and damn me if I’m not telling the truth.  

4.  Peter’s Intense Repentance

And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. 

Luke tells us there was a point when Peter could actually see Jesus.  Perhaps Peter saw some of the abuse, as Jesus’ captors had been beating Him.  

Luke 22:60–62 (ESV) 

60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly. 

Luke tells us that while he was finishing his third denial a rooster crowed.  Also at that moment Jesus turned a looked directly at Peter and these two things…the crow of the rooster and the gaze of Christ cut Peter to the heart.  The Holy Spirit has opened him up as with a surgeon’s scalpel.  Peter would run away and weep bitterly.  

The true Peter was not seen in his denials but the true Peter was seen in his bitter repentance.  His faith had weakened during these events but it was true and genuine faith.  True and genuine faith may have times where it is weak but it is never destroyed.  He would return to Jesus and Jesus would grant Peter forgiveness.  

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV) 

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 

Conclusion

Peter’s turmoil and struggle here should be examined.  What profound truths can we learn from his denials? 

Peter was way too quick to trust in himself.  He thought he was above failure and sin.  He thought his devotion and loyalty to Jesus far surpassed the others…even if they leave You I will never leave You.  Even if I must die with You, Jesus I will never leave.

Because of self-trust, Peter was unprepared when trouble came.  He had no resources in which to stand firm in the midst of the trial.

The Apostle Paul knew all about preparing for trials before they come.  After teaching the truths we need, in Ephesians he then teaches us what we must do to be prepared to stand firm in the midst of the trial.  Denying Jesus is not the way we are to respond when our faith is questioned.  Rather than denying and cowering in fear, here is how God wants us to respond…be ready for battle.  God wants us to be able to stand during that evil day when it comes…

Ephesians 6:13–18 (ESV) 

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 

Peter fell hard from his lofty self-righteous tower.  When he did, Jesus stripped him of his pride and in its place gave Peter humility.  Peter never forgot where he came from and how far he fell.  He never forgot how kind and loving Jesus was to him to restore him back among the disciples.  Peter spent the rest of his life as a bold witness for Jesus, he never denied Jesus again.

2 Peter 3:17–18 (ESV) 

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 

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