If anyone had told Peter on the day of his enthusiastic confession of his Master as “Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69) that the moment would come when he would deny Him with oaths and curses, he would have never believed it. But he did deny the Lord, and all four Gospels record the humiliating story.
It was first a simple denial, in answer to the challenge of the girl who kept the High Priest’s door (Matthew 26:69,70). In answer to the questions of several in the porch, he added an oath to his second denial. Then, being identified by a relative of the man whose ear he cut off in the garden (John 18:26), he broke out into a string of oaths and curses. “I know not this Man of whom ye speak” (Mark 14:71).
Peter’s miserable fall is an abiding warning against self-sufficiency in any of us. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). What Peter did yesterday, both reader and writer may do tomorrow, unless upheld by infinite grace. The absolute unreliability of flesh (human nature) stands out vividly in the story of Peter’s denial of his Lord. In all that he vowed beforehand, his spirit was indeed willing, as the Lord Himself acknowledged (Luke 22:33, Matthew 26:41). Yet, when the test came, he failed miserably.
What infinite mercy that salvation is not by works! How could any of us possibly stand? “It is of faith, that it might be by grace” (Romans 4:16). The basis of blessing for sinful men is the Savior’s atoning blood. To this no merit can be added, and from it nothing can detract—not even the failure of one so eminent as Simon Peter.
—Condensed from Simon Peter: Apostle and Living Stone by W.W. Fereday.