Peter would later become the leader of the early Christian church. He showed signs of that leadership with his confession of Jesus as the Christ or Messiah at Caesarea Philippi. This is one of the reasons that it is somewhat difficult to learn that he later disowned Jesus not once but three times—just as the Lord had predicted (Mark 14:27-31).
According to the Gospels, Peter was identified by an eye witness as “one of those who were with that Nazarene, Jesus. But he denied it” (Mark 14:67-68). Though concerned enough to be nearby the interrogation of Jesus by the religious authorities, he must have been fearful of the possible consequences. History reveals many times when it was dangerous to be known as part of a certain religious movement. One’s life could very well be threatened by suspicions and accusations. Peter was just showing his human weakness by his verbal denials.
A study of Peter’s life reveals other occasions when he “denied the Lord” in other ways such as: 1) When he struck the servant of the High Priest with his sword and cut off his ear, Peter was clearly not acting in a way consistent with being a follower of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we deny the Lord by our actions. 2) When he, along with James and John, “could not keep watch for one hour” in the Garden, denying the Lord their support as He faced the agony of crucifixion and death. 3) When Peter was with the same two disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, he denied the supremacy of Christ by suggesting they build three booths or shelters.
Perhaps the other story most familiar to many is when Christ appeared to the disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee at night. The twelve were startled to see Him, thinking He was a ghost. When Jesus spoke words of assurance to them, Peter sought confirmation. The Lord bid him to “come” and Peter got out of the boat and briefly walked on water. He was doing fine until, seeing the effect of the wind creating waves, he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.
Today there are many people experiencing a similar situation. It may be the loss of a job, revenue, a home, investments, insurance or health. Like Peter, our humanness causes our faith to falter in the face of life’s storms. Failing to trust His word is another form of denial. The answer is to keep our eyes on God and not the surrounding circumstances. Safety and deliverance is experienced when we remain focused on the Lord and join Him in the company of other disciples.