One of the saddest events in the Bible is Peter’s denial of Christ. The contrast of Peter’s early words and conduct is striking, when compared to his later words and actions. On the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested, He first instituted the Lord’s supper and afterward went to the Mt. of Olives. It is here that Jesus tells the disciples that they are all going to forsake Him and flee (Mk. 14:22-27).
We often are anxious to pile-on Peter for his impetuous nature and tendency to speak before thinking. Nevertheless Peter has many superior qualities that Christians would be well advised to imitate. He was first to confess Jesus as the “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16) and then was blessed with the promise of receiving the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Indeed, he did begin to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus, but who else did we see getting out of the boat to walk on the water? (Matt. 14:27-31). Nevertheless, given his impetuous nature, we are not surprised then, when Jesus tells of their forsaking Him, that Peter is first to pipe-up and contradict the Lord saying … Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. (Mark 14:29, KJV). Jesus warned Peter that, in fact, Peter was going to deny Christ three times (v.30). We have no doubt that he had the very best intentions and thoughts of fidelity to the Lord. Nevertheless, they all forsook him, and fled (Mark 14:50 KJV) and, as you know, Peter denied Christ three times (vv. 66-72)
Peter, however, seemed to get his courage back, at least to a degree, and turned back to follow Christ and the mob to see what was going to happen (v.53 ff). We see danger signs early on that portend his inevitable fall. First, he follows from afar, next, he sits and warms himself by the fire (v.54). In these two things we see danger written in large letters. Christians must ever walk closely to the Lord and never become comfortable sitting among His enemies. Mark’s account of the Gospel is known for being very action-packed and fast-moving. This account is no different. As we read, we want to travel back in time and grab Peter and shake him up and say “Think about what you are doing!” Indeed Peter will come to his senses and think about what he had done, but it will be too late to take back his words. Mark 14:68 – he denied, v.69 – a rooster crowed, v.70 – he denied again, v.71 – I do not know this Man of whom you speak, and then… the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept. (Mark 14:72 KJV)
Many are on a dangerous path pursuing sin and worldliness, deceiving themselves and thinking that they can be friends with the world while at the same time being friends with God (Jas. 4:4). Peter thought he could warm himself by the devil’s fire, staying just close enough to Jesus so as not to be guilty of forsaking Him, yet far enough away so as not to be in danger. How he was deceived. What if Peter would have been thoughtful and mindful instead of thoughtless? I need to stop right where I am and think! I need to ask myself, “Where am I? What am I doing? Is this right? Am I clinging closely to my Lord?”
Throughout the Old Testament, God would say through the prophets that He wished His people would consider, that is, that He wished they would take time to think (Deut. 32:29, 1 Sam. 12:24, Isa. 1:3, 41:20, Hag. 1:5, 7). How much better to consider our course ahead of time than to reflect upon it after the fact in regret, sorrow and weeping. How many sins would be avoided and how much sorrow averted if we simply would take the time to think carefully and consider our ways? Praise God, that like Peter, we can be forgiven and restored when we repent, and give many years of faithful service to Him, but how much better it would be to avoid the fall in the first place.