Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
So, Peter wasn’t ready for the little one that really tore him up and there he fell. Dropped by a door girl. Gone are all of his heroic promises to Jesus, gone was all the courage that was in his heart, gone was all of his fleshly self‑confidence and he was a great big nothing. The arrogant coward, unable to confess his Lord, cringing in lying denial. And the whole thing happened so fast he didn’t even know what hit him.
Well, if you get those formal challenges where you can choose your weapons and plan your strategy, you’re fortunate. But watch out for the sudden blows when you’re not ready, when you’re trusting in the flesh. They’re the ones that will flatten you.
And so, Peter jumps out of the protection, gets right exactly in the thing that Jesus didn’t want him to get into, he got in over his head where he couldn’t handle it. He was not strong enough. Jesus knew what would happen. It was inevitable. He had provided escape for him but not Peter, Peter had to go the way Peter wanted to go. That’s Peter. And that’s us in so many cases.
Now, it’s interesting that the time in the garden when he did this Jesus rescued him quick. But this time, Jesus let him hit bottom and bounce a few times. He just let it hurt to teach Peter the tremendous lesson he needed to learn.
Now, notice verse 18. And this is the most tragic part of all. “And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves,” and watch this statement, “and Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” Now, Peter, what are you doing with them? Those are the enemies of Jesus. Now you see how far this poor guy has come. In the garden he’s standing beside Christ, defending Him with his little sword. Now he’s standing by the fire warming himself with the enemies of Jesus and he’s already denied Him repeated times. Now, if you put all of the gospel accounts together there are at least six different statements that Peter makes denying Christ. He denied Him on three occasions but made six different statements. Jesus said ‑- “You’ll deny Me three times.” He did. Three different times but he made several different statements in each of those occasions. And he’s just denying Jesus. There he is, he’s cold so he’s going to get warm and stand with the enemies of Jesus. Peter should have been long gone.
You say -‑ Well, how did he get messed up so badly? I mean, what is he doing here?” Number one, his problem all began ‑‑ self-confidence. I can make it on my own. I don’t need a daily prayer life. I don’t need a daily time with God. I don’t need a daily time in the Word. I don’t need that, I can make it. I mean, I’ve been around a long time in this Christian deal, I mean, I’m a disciple. I can hack it in the world. I don’t need to sweat that. I can go out and do what the world does and I can do the things they do in the way they do them, and I can buy a little bit of the world’s morality and I can flirt a little bit with the world’s kind of thing. And I’m all right ’cause I’ve been around, I’m a disciple, I’m one of the inner group. Self‑confidence. And wham! First mistake.
Not only self‑confidence but the second big tragedy in the life of Peter was unpreparedness. He wasn’t ready. He was so self-confident that he had no right to be. He thought he was big stuff, he was little stuff, he was no stuff.
And the third thing, he wound up standing with Christ’s enemies. He started out being self‑confident ‑‑ I can move into the world. Moved right in and wasn’t ready. Boom! Next think you know he’s standing around with the enemies of Jesus. How many Christians have you know that’s happened in their life? How many times in your life? You started to think you’d arrived spiritually, Satan moved in, tempted you, next thing you knew you woke up one day and you were standing with Christ’s enemies and things were all backwards. That was Peter. That’s exactly the pattern of backsliding. And that’s happened to so many Christians and then they come back to the church or they come to see the pastor or they come to see somebody and they say, “Oh, my life’s all fouled up, I don’t know what happened, I got into this and I got into that. What went wrong?” And you go back and you say ‑You started out by thinking you could make it on your own so you moved into the world, you weren’t ready, you got shot down, you wound up standing with sinners and that’s where you’ve been.