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“Peter Denies Jesus”
Mark 14: 26-31, 66-72
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I have heard much said over the years in regard to good intentions. Like the name of it suggests, all speaks of wanting to choose to do what is right, yet is often compounded by the struggle to actually carry it out, not allowing the plans thereof to come to full fruition.
The execution of what is good has been the slippery slope man has attempted to climb since time began. The struggle is real. Many are well-meaning, but a well-meaning gesture without follow through is as empty as if one had never made it in the first place.
Peter the determined, a fisherman who left all to follow Christ. Peter the bold, a spokesman who declared without hesitation, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (Matthew 16:16). Peter the courageous, the only one in the ship who had enough gumption to actually try to walk on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14:29). Yet, for all of his boldness Peter would experience a test of faith that would make him stumble.
26) “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
27) And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
28) But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.
29) But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.
30) And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
31) But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”
Time was drawing near. Jesus was coming to the last leg of His race in ministry here on earth. The shadows of evil purposed against Him and the plan has been put into motion. All will come to pass on this night as had been prophesied for ages leading up to the culmination of these events.
He has been anointed by Mary before His death (Mark 14:3-9). Judas has agreed with the chief priest to betray Him (Mark 14:10-11). The last Passover has gotten underway when Jesus testifies of the new covenant and the ordering of the Lord’s Supper to be done in “remembrance” of Him (Luke 22:19). With the supper ended Jesus gave one final lesson on servanthood in the washing of the disciples’ feet (john 13:2-20). And, after giving “sop” He tells Judah, “That thou doest, do quickly,” (John 13:27), speaking of the carrying out of His betrayal.
The time of testing had come. Not just for Judas, but each one of His disciples would face a faith crisis on this night. With one final “hymn” being sung, they left the events of the supper behind and proceeded to the “mount of Olives.” As much as we can gather from their responses, or lack thereof, Jesus’ remaining disciples were absolutely oblivious to what was soon to take place despite Jesus’ many warnings.
As if preparing them, Jesus spoke, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night.” A long ago prophesy foretold, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow . . . smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered . . .” (Zechariah 13:7). It was “this night,” Jesus spoke, when the fulfilling of it would come to pass. “This night” each and every one that is with Him will stumble in their faith (“be offended”). “This night” they would all leave Jesus alone to face everything . . .
But Jesus, always the one to comfort those whom He loves, spoke, “But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee,” (vs. 28). Although He knew they would all forsake Him there on that night, He would not forsake them. He spoke of a time of joining back up with them in “Galilee” after He is “risen.” We see the fulfilling of this when the women came to Jesus’ tomb after His crucifixion who were told by an angel, “Tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you,” (Mark 16:7; see also Matthew 28:10 and Luke 24:6).
“But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.” With diehard adamancy, Peter declared his response to anything that occurred there that night would be far different than the rest. So sure was he in his own “faith” at that time he went so far as to declare, “If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise.”
Previously, Jesus taught some pretty tough lessons on His identity and the course that His body and blood would play in their future salvation (see John 6:47-65). As a result many of those who followed Him turned away (John 6:66). Jesus asked the twelve at that time, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67). It was then Peter made a bold declaration of faith and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou has the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69). As far as we know, Peter may view his personal statement in today’s lesson of not denying Jesus as a reflection of his previous confession faith.
Perhaps he really thought he was totally sure and secure in what his response might be, as I am sure the other disciples thought as well. But Jesus knew better. The Apostle Paul once taught, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Maybe as humans, when push comes to shove, one’s response may not be as they previously envisioned.
Jesus reiterated, “Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Jesus’ prediction had to hit the heart in a hard way. He told Peter specifically there would be three occasions in this one night, in the very near future, when he would totally deny Him. One may stumble and make a spiritual misstep once, but to be told that he would have opportunity and take the opportunity three times – well, it was probably a thought that he couldn’t wrap his head around therefore refusing the possibility of it going to happen at all.
Nevertheless, Jesus said it would happen. It was prophesied to happen. And, Mark 14:50 shows us it did happen: “And they all forsook him, and fled.” Now, before we are so quick to judge, read this previously published article titled Where Are You Going? when I wrote:
“’I would not have run!’ that’s what most of us exclaim when we hear the story of Jesus facing these men in the Garden of Gethsemane.
How often have we stood for Christ in the midst of adversity? When contentions arise to defend our faith, do we stand closed lip or do we draw the spiritual sword? When our time comes to speak what is right, do we act with avoidance, put up our church finger to excuse ourselves away from the controversy?
There’s more than one way to flee from the garden.
Our country is changing and it’s headed in a wrong direction really fast. As Christians, where are we going? Do we stand with Jesus only in times of miracles and blessings, only to flee and disappear in the shadows when things get hard? Or, do we stand with Him when the enemy tries to attack and arrest our faith?
I, unapologetically, stand with Christ. Laws are being passed that’s trying to change not only the landscape of our nation, but the scope of all that’s right and just before God. I love all people and I pray for them. But, and I say this without condemnation, “What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.” And, if we think as Christians these law and changes that other powers are pronouncing to be right have no effect on us, than we have already left the garden leaving Jesus to stand there alone.
The rights of some are being raised while our rights in what we believe are being diminished. Where are you going? It’s time for the church to wake up, take the sleep masks off and pay attention to what’s going on around us. Did we flee to leave Jesus standing alone?
Just a thoughtful question?” (Copyright © Word For Life Says)
66) “And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:
67) And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
68) But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
69) And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.
70) And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
71) But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
72) And 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.”
Before we reach the events in verse 50 (previous section) where they all forsook Him, they were soon to find out things were about to drastically change for the disciples . . .
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus began to pray in agony. This was not a normal prayer, nor could the fervency of it be matched. The weight of the world literally rested upon His shoulders there that night. The contest between good and evil, between God and the devil was coming to its peak – at all cost victory had to be won for the sake of the souls of humanity, the very reason His ministry led Him to earth. So He prayed and “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” (Luke22:44). So challenging was the fight the Bible lets us know, “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him,” (Luke 22:43).
Although their struggle paled in comparison to what He is facing and will face, Jesus knew the disciples would face great temptation there that night. Written in almost all the accounts of the gospels Jesus warned them to “pray, that ye enter not into temptation,” (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46). Their faith would be severely tested and they needed spiritual strength to endure. Would they stand the test of the trial? Would their devotion to Christ hold up under the pressure of persecution?
As the story moves on, after His three agonizing prayers, Jesus was betrayed and arrested (Mark 14:43-52). Everyone is gone and He is left to face the high priest and the Sanhedrin alone. One of many illegal night time trials get underway which would not end until our Savior hung on that old rugged cross for our sins.
Peter followed Jesus incognito, or so he thought to see what would become of the events there that night. Not privy to enter into the actual room where the proceedings were taking place he was in the courtyard after gaining entrance because another disciple, John, knew the high priest (John 18:15). It was this disciple who spoke “to her that kept the door, and brought Peter in,” (John 18:16). Immediately she asked him, “Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples?” (John 18:17). Peter’s immediate, almost reactive response was, “I am not,” (John 18:17). So, “he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire,” (Mark 14:54; see also John 18:18).
As they questioned Jesus and sought to have somebody speak falsely against Him, Peter by the fire caught the attention of a “maid.” “And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth,” (Mark 14:67). Thus, in both of these recollections we see the first person to identify and point Peter out as a follower of Jesus was one of the servant girls.
Upon his immediate denial of the Lord the first time, “the cock crew.” Did this gain Peter’s attention? Would it jog his memory bringing to mind what Jesus just hours before warned would happen? Apparently not at this point it doesn’t appear so. Trying to delineate himself from the crowd “he went out into the porch.” When blending in didn’t work he appeared an attempt to nonchalantly displace himself from the commotion. One thing is for sure, everything he was doing was for the purpose of not being identified as a follower of Jesus.
With that one must ask themselves how often they have tried to “blend in” or at the very least, not stand out as a follower of Christ. The ways may not be as profound as what Peter experiences in the palace courtyard, but the results of disassociation can be just as devastating to one’s faith. Previously Jesus taught, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 10:33). Thankfully, at the end of the death and resurrection story Peter was granted space for repentance and restoration back to the work of God.
Again, Peter was spotted and the maid present was even more adamant, “This is one of them.” At this point, my mind wonders where the other disciples fled during all of this did. Were they gathered together or did they run so scared in opposite directions only to meet up later? Whatever they were doing, Peter was presently walking the tightrope of faith. The struggle to keep it all in balance was floundering. He followed to be near Jesus, purposely putting himself in the predicament of being spotted and possibly persecuted as well, yet when he is pointed out of the crowd, he denies any association with Him. For the second time “he denied it again.” As he did those standing around him were even more convinced of his association with Jesus and pursued the matter saying, “Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speeh agreeth thereto.”
Someone once said you can’t hide what’s inside, and apparently some of what is seen on the outside as well. Peter aroused their suspicions three times and the last time they pointed out specifics of why they had cause to believe that he had been with Jesus. By the time Peter arrives in Acts 4, for one to point him out as being recognized as having been with Jesus because of the courage and miracles was considered an honor (see Acts 4:13). But for now, it just made Peter want to hide in a shell and do everything to detract their attentions from him.
Trying to pull the wool over their eyes Peter went off into a barrage of cursing and swearing, making his denial of Christ all the more heartrending, saying, “I know not this man of whom ye speak.” In every way, shape, and form (be it following at a distance or with his speech) Peter disavowed himself from the Christ. The one whom he professed as being the Son of the living God, now he stands before the crowds with failing faith, denying his Lord.
“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.” The reality of the sin and the burden of the shame came forth. “What have I done?” must have replayed itself over and over again at the thought of what just transpired. Luke’s account adds that when Peter’s final denial came forth, “the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter,” (Luke 22:61). One can only imagine the overwhelming sadness and sorrow Peter felt to look into the eyes of his friend, his Savior after failing Him so. Perhaps this is why Matthew adds the word “bitterly” to his account of his weeping (Matthew 26:75). Surely he must have felt like the lowest of the low, thus “when he thought thereon, he wept.”
Again, let us not be too caught up in our own pride and hastiness to judge Peter when we too have had moments of failing, struggling faith; moments when we dropped the spiritual ball and missed the mark. “How Many Times?” is one of my favorite and most well-received poems because it hits the nature of our lesson so poignantly. It has been featured in lessons before and seems most appropriate to do so here as well. It says:
“How many times have I missed the mark?
How many times have I chosen the dark?
How many times have I despised what’s right?
How many times have I lived for the night?
How many times has my life taken an ugly turn?
How many of your graces did I willingly spurn?
How many times have You tried to wrench me from the devil’s lies?
How many times, Your efforts have I despised?
How many times do you love me still?
How many times do You draw me to do Your will?
How many times has Your Spirit poured out,
To quench the thirst of this soul in drought?
How many times, in my life Your victories have won,
To reach in and save me by the blood of Your dear Son?
How many times have you drawn me to stay
By Your side because You’re the only way?
How many times have you redeemed me from my sinful plight,
To allow me relish in Your Son’s holy light?
How many times can I say I love You?
Numbering them one by one just won’t do!
How many times is a question I ask,
Because keeping this soul is an awesome task.
How many times . . . oh, I’m so grateful You do,
Never to give up on a love between me and You.”
“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again,” Proverbs 24:16 (Copyright ©Word For Life Says)
Peter struggled in his faith and failed Jesus. As stated in the lesson there are times when we can look back over our lives and admit the same shortcomings. Before Jesus died, when predicting the denial of Peter, He looked forward to the time when Peter would be restored and “converted” and would go on to strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:31-32). That word “converted” gives the impression of turning back for Peter and for anyone who finds themselves in a wanting state, with faith that is not up to par. Through this I encourage you to look to the Lord for forgiveness and restoration.
(Click here for PDF: Peter Denies Jesus Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Peter Denies Jesus Draw the Scene 1
How Many Words?: Peter Denies Jesus How Many Words
Memory Verse: Peter Denies Jesus Memory Verse
“I Stand With Jesus! Necklace Craft”: Simply print out PDF: Peter Denies Jesus Necklace Craft, color, punch a whole, and string with yarn, ribbon or string. Feel free to add beads or cut up straws to decorate. Your students have their own reminder of standing firm in their faith to wear. Enjoy!
Below are more Activities/Links/Resources to support this lesson. Enjoy!
“Peter Denies Jesus Teacher’s Guide” (Easy activities and games to incorporate in the lesson. Enjoy!)
If you are inclined to focus on PALM SUNDAY CRAFTS for this week, here’s some great choices to choose from. Enjoy!
HOSANNA PALM LEAF CRAFT: Hosanna Palm Leaf for Palm Sunday (Use this PDF link for accurate printing) Have students decorate and color their free palm leaf (printing on cardstock is best) and tape or glue to a craft stick (makes a great church fan 🙂 ) or dowel rod or twigs from outside for a natural element so they too can wave them before the Lord with rejoicing. I wanted mine to be colorful, not just all green. Jazz it up! After all, it is a celebration. Enjoy!
Leaf Lace Up Craft: Use PDF: Mark 11 9 Leaf Lace Up Craft to put together this simple, yet fun activity. Print out on cardstock and use a hole punch to put holes around the free leaf template. Use any materials you have laying around for lacing: yarn, string, pipe cleaners, etc. I used crumbled up party streamers. Go figure! Enjoy! (Similar project shown below)
“Palm Sunday” (Here you will find several activities but the one I really like is called “To The Cross.” It’s a game for students to play that is easy to do and easy to set up. Enjoy!)
“Palm Sunday Crafts” (Here you will find a plethora of activities for your students to enjoy. Everything from coloring pages to donkey paper bag puppets and everything in between.)
“Palm Sunday Craft for Kids” (If you are the adventurous type and want something a little different and don’t mind paint, this one is for you. Using paint they can make their own palm branches with their hands and a donkey’s head with a foot (yes, a donkey’s head) to turn out an inspirational message for this lesson. Enjoy!)
“Palm Sunday Crafts” (Here you will find . . . PRINTABLES! Yes, it makes putting a lesson together that much easier. Also there are cute coloring sheets to choose from to support this lesson and it’s FREE! Enjoy!)