The Arrest of Jesus: Part II – Peter’s Denial
Jesus Arrested in the Garden
Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him,
Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now: but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life
for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily
verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
John 8:10, 11
Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant,
and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto
Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath giv en me,
shall I not drink it?
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was
known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high
priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple,
which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and
brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou
also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. And the servants and officers
stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed
themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not
thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the
servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did
not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately
the cock crew.
Early in the 13th chapter of his gospel John records an incident that beautifully
illustrates how that the Lordship of Jesus is manifested even in the most lowly of earthly
activities. Jesus stooped to the demeaning task of the humblest of slaves and began to
wash the feet of the disciples.
When He came to Peter the impetuous disciple declared, "Thou shalt never wash
my feet" (John 13:7). Jesus, in the process of performing one of the most mundane of
mankind's tasks, declared as the Lord of the earth, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part
with me" (v. 8).
Having completed this earthly chore which the disciples had refused to do Jesus
declared, "Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well for so I am. If I then, your Lord
and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have
given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you" (vv. 13-15).
A. The Lord’s Prophecy Concerning Peter (John 13:33-38)
1. Peter's Curiosity and the Lord's Prophecy (John 13:36)
After Jesus had said, "Whither I go ye cannot come" (v. 33), He then gave the
disciples one of the most important commandments ever given to His believers. "A new
commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye
also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love
one for another" (vv.34, 35).
However, it was as though Simon Peter did not hear these last two sentences
because his curiosity lingered on Christ's statement about where He was going. So he
questioned Him. "Lord whither goest thou?" The Lord's answer was prophetic. "You
cannot follow me now" – that is, "Your faith and spiritual strength are not mature and full
enough to endure the passion with me at this particular time."
But the Lord continued, "You shall follow me afterwards" – that is, "The time will
come later (after Pentecost) when your faith and spiritual strength will mature and you
will be able to follow me. You then can follow me to the suffering of the cross and to the
glory of the crown."
2. Peter's Confidence and the Lord's Prophecy (John 13:37, 38)
Even though Peter calls Him "Lord," the Lord's answer did not silence the
overconfident disciple's zeal. "Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my
life for thy sake."
We cannot question Peter's sincerity. His eagerness to fight the temple police and
Roman cohort demonstrated his willingness to lay down his life as he said he would do.
But the Lord had another host to fight that night. So he prophesied, "Wilt tho u lay down
thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast
denied me thrice."
B. The Lord and Peter in the Garden (John 18:8-11)
1. The Lord's Provision for the Disciples (John 18:8, 9)
We have noticed previously the power of the Lord's words and voice when He
declared to the soldiers three times, "I am!" (verses 5,6,8). With the third affirmation He
insured that the disciples would not be arrested. "Jesus answered, I have told you that I
am (he): if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way." John points out that this was,
"that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I
2. The Self-Determination of Peter (verse 10)
Simon Peter was absolutely determined within himself to bravely fight to his own
death. In spite of the odds against him, "Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and
smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was
Peter was determined to prove his faithfulness to the Lord by sacrificing his own
life for Him. But even while he was ready to die for Him, he was yet denying the true
Lordship of the Master. To Peter, the way of the fighting of the sword was better than the
way of the suffering of the cross.
3. The Lord's Rebuke of Peter's Self Sacrifice (verse 11)
However, Jesus knew that neither the killing of the soldiers nor the sacrifice of the
disciples' lives could bring about the ultimate victory over the power of the enemy. "Then
said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath
given me, shall I not drink It?"
The rebuke of the Lord was gentle but complete. It was not simply a matter of not
fighting with the sword. Jesus' will was now fully submitted unto the will of the Father
with no reservations. Just as much as He would not allow the soldiers to destroy His
sheep, neither would He allow the sheep to hinder the work of the Father. As Lord of all
the earth He commanded both soldiers and sheep and all yielded to His authority.
C. Peter’s Threefold Denial (John 18:15-18; 24-27)
1. Peter's First Denial (John 18:15-17)
After the multitude took Jesus, Peter and the unnamed disciple followed at a
distance to the house of the high priest. After the other disciple entered the house Peter
"stood at the door without" until the other disciple returned and spoke to "her that kept
the door." As they entered the house (and evidently after the unnamed disciple had left
their immediate presence), the "damsel that kept the door" said to Peter, "Art thou also
one of this man's disciples?"
Peter answered, "I am not." Oh, the contrast between the "I am" of the faithful
Master and the "I am not" of the unfaithful servant!
When Peter and the disciples were in the ship in "the midst of the sea" which was
"tossed with waves" because "the wind was contrary" and Jesus went to them "walking
on the sea" and "they were troubled" and "cried out for fear," Jesus said to them, "I AM."
"Be of good cheer," He said, "I am (EGO EIMI); be not afraid" (Matthew 14:22-27).
But now when the Lord of the earth stands before His Jewish accusers in a
frightening storm of winds of hatred and the threatening cold waves of an agonizing
death crash against His pure and righteous soul and Peter comes into the house of the
high priest and is confronted by one young girl who simply asks if he is one of the
disciples, he said, "I AM NOT!"
So we have here a picture of many so-called "determined saints" that are still with
us today. As long as there is a sword in the hand and the Master is seen as a conquering
King we're ready to strike the ear off the head of the enemy. But when the Lord stands
before the wicked of the earth and He stands silent before the curses and the spitting and
the accusations of the railing mob, many lose the enthusiasm for the fight, and cowardly
swear to the harmless maiden, "I am not!"
2. Peter's Second Denial (John 18:24-25)
So as the servants and officers, who had built a fire, stood before the flickering
flames of the coals in order to warm themselves from the cold of the night, John says
"Peter stood with them, and warmed himself" (John 18:18).
Note that the exact same expression is used here of Simon Peter that John also
used of Judas. He says of both of them that they "stood with them" (see John 18:5). Even
though Peter had determined within himself to follow the Lord even to death itself, when
he tried to stand in his own strength, just like Judas, he "stood with them."
Furthermore, Simon Peter stood with them and "warmed himself." Surely the
Lord's own soul was at that very moment tortured by the cold persecution of the hateful
mob. John has just recorded that "one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the
palm of his hand" (v. 22).
But Peter could not feel the cold pain of the Lord of the earth – he only felt the
cold chill of a frosty night and "stood with them" before the fire and "warmed himself."
Then, "They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it,
and said, I am not" (v. 25).
When we "stand with them" who are of this world and "warm ourselves" by
aware that we are not at that moment sharing the earth. To warm our fleshly body by the
fire of the world is to insulate our soul from the compassionate and hurting heart of the
Lord who is persecuted for our own sins.
But know, oh child of God, that there is great danger in standing before the
warmth of the world while the Saviour is slapped by the officer of the world's high priest.
If we stand with them and warm ourselves with them why should we think we will not
also deny Him and say, "I am not!" the fire of this world let us be the cold hurt with the
3. Peter's Third Denial (John 18:26)
Even after two denials it is recorded that "One of the servants of the high priest,
being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, said, Did not I see thee in the garden with
It is no longer simply the suspicion of a maiden who thought he had a Galilean
accent. Neither is it the general accusations of a larger group who were mainly interesting
in satisfying their own physical needs. Now it is the pointing finger of an eyewitness.
Furthermore, the witness was one who had seen Peter commit an act of treachery against
his own kinsman. So the third time Peter denied the Lord of the earth.
Which one of us has not done as Simon Peter? It's easy to worship Him as Lord
when we can see Him working as Lord. In the Sunday morning worship hour we unite
our voices and souls in determination to follow Him to even to death. On the spiritual
battle field when the enemy has been overwhelmed by His word and fallen backward in
His presence we can draw the sword of the spirit and smite the enemy's head with the
Word of God.
But how the picture changes when the Lord of the earth wills to work among the
enemy of the earth and submit Himself to the cruel smiting of this world. When He
stands silent before the wicked we come in late, and talk with the keeper of the door and
stand with them in the courtyard and warm ourselves by the fires of this world.
It's marvelous to shout Hosanna as He marches in to the New Jerusalem of a
revival service and heals the sick and saves the lost and feeds the hungry. But where do
we stand when He is silent before the high priests of this world? Who do we stand with
when cancer smites and He speaks no rebuke? Where do we warm our fleshly bodies
when the cold night of Alzheimer’s chills our soul and the Lord is being spit upon? How
do we answer when the Lord's earthiness leads Him toward the cross?
D. The Lord’s Response to Denial
1. The Lord's Knowledge and Prayer
"And immediately," John said, "the cock crew." It was precisely as the Lord had
said it would be. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till you hast
denied me thrice" (John 13:38). Oh yes, Peter had made a bold promise – "I will lay
down my life for thy sake" (John 13:37). He had taken a courageous stand – "Then
Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant" (John 18:10).
But the Lord of the earth knew Simon Peter better than he knew himself. "And
immediately the cork crew!"
However, the Lord did not simply know what Peter would do – He prayed for
him. "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he
may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, tha t thy faith fail not" (Luke 22:31,32).
Now, when the cock crew, "The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter
remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou
shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:61,62).
2. The Lord's Message for Peter
The next three days were dark and torturous for all the disciples. But Peter must
have groaned in agony, not only because of the Lord's death but also of his own
treachery. But Mark records a special message that was given to the three women at the
tomb by the angels to take to the disciples and especially to Peter. "Go your way, tell His
disciples AND PETER that he goeth before you into Galilee" (Mark 16:7).
Even though he had denied Him before the damsel at the door; though he had
denied Him and stood with the servants who warmed themselves by the fire; though he
denied Him to the kinsman of the wounded servant of the high priest; though the cock
had crowed as the Lord had said; even so, "Go your way, tell his disciples AND
So the Lord of the earth understands our own earthiness even though we might
not understand Him. Though we may deny Him during His silence; though we may
declare, "I am not," when the "I Am" withholds His glory; though we may warm our
bodies of flesh beside the warm flames of this world while He suffers in the cold
darkness of persecution; nevertheless, the Lord sends His message, "Tell his disciples
AND PETER." "Tell them! Tell him! Tell her!" He says, "Tell them that I go before
them. Go your way. There you shall see me!"
Jesus arrested in the Garden.
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