Doubtlessly anyone familiar with the New Testament is well aware of Peter’s denial. John’s account of such is as follows: “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.” (Jn. 18:25-27)
There are many points to be made concerning this text. One, there is the whole question of whether the “rooster” was actually a chicken or perhaps something else. (I’d invite the reader to research the term used for “cock” in Luke 22:34; you’ll find it can also be translated “man” or “husband.” I found an article entitled, “Sometimes A Rooster Is Not A Rooster” to be very insightful). Another point concerns how that after Peter’s repentance, his “tragic denial” is never brought up again – not one time!
The point I’d like to tease out in this brief article concerns our oftentimes diminished or tainted self-awareness. We don’t know ourselves quite as well as we think we know ourselves. Peter is a case in point. You recall that in his boldness he said, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” (Mt. 26:23) It’s pretty clear what Peter thought concerning his own capabilities. However, in such a short time he was proven to have grossly overestimated his strength. I doubt that he’s much different from you and me.
If there’s one thing I’d encourage each of us to take away from Peter’s tragic denial, it’s our need to approach life from a posture of humility. Scripture says, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands to take heed lest he fall.” (1 Co. 10:12) Realize that some of God’s best have been among the worst. And embrace the fact that our righteous deeds are like “filthy rags.” (Is. 64:4) At the end of the day, we are all banged up, bruised, and broken beings. Yes, Peter had a “tragic denial,” but haven’t we all? Thank God for grace!