Why did Peter deny Jesus when he said he would rather die than do that?

This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

The Personality of Peter

It is mind boggling to think that someone like Peter, who spent every day for three and half years with Jesus, could deny that he knew Him. However, we have to remember that when we knowingly sin, we too deny that we know Jesus (1 John 3:6). While Peter was called by Christ to be a disciple and apostle, He was just as much of a flawed human being as any one of us. Peter’s conversion took a long time, but God was patient with him just as He is with anyone who desires to follow Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Peter’s personality was proud, impulsive, fearful and self-willed. He was a sinner, as we all are, and needed time and training from the great Teacher to fully submit his will to God and overcome self. We see aspects of Peter’s unconverted personality in the story of when he walked on water with Jesus (Matthew 26:29-31). Although Peter was given this supernatural opportunity, he soon began to look at the storm around him and became fearful and sank. Jesus rescued him in His mercy, just as He does with us.

Even when Peter was granted spiritual knowledge and blessings, he still was not perfected. This was seen when his name was changed from Simon to Peter (Matthew 16:16-18).  Later on, this disciple proclaimed the foundational truth of the church that Jesus is the Son of God and was given the new name Peter and a special role in the beginning of the Christian church. While Peter was granted this blessing and responsibility, he faltered and pushed his own will on Jesus to the extent that Jesus rebuked him as Satan and an offense (Matthew 16:23).

Why Did Peter Deny Jesus?

When Jesus told Peter he would deny Him, Peter proudly boasted that he would rather die than do this (Matthew 26:31-35). Jesus gave His disciple the remedy to keeping his promise by asking him to pray with Him (verse 38).  Peter needed to pray as Jesus was praying at that time, “not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (verse 39). However, Peter was weak and did not have the spiritual strength he claimed and desired to have. Although he knew what to do, he just didn’t do it. Like many of us, he was a good hearer and not a good doer of the word (James 1:22-25).

When the guards came to arrest Jesus, we see the epitome of Peter’s character as he drew a sword and cut off the priest’s servant’s ear (John 18:10). Jesus had to remind His disciple that this is not in harmony with His teachings (verse 11). Peter tried to keep his promise to be faithful in his own way as he stayed near where Jesus was taken but because he had not prayed and stayed connected to God, he ended up trying to fight in his own strength and denied Christ three times as warned (John 18:15-18, 25-27).

While Peter’s intentions were good, he could not fight this battle on his own. He was very ashamed of what he did, as he wept bitterly (Matthew 26: 75). Like so many of us, Peter wanted to be a great disciple for Jesus but lacked the only thing that could have helped him in his walk with God: absolute submission to and dependence on Christ. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). 

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

More answers: