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Do You Say Like Peter, "I Don't Know the Man"?

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Peter was very close to Jesus. Peter loved Jesus. Peter protected Jesus on many occasions. Peter was one of Jesus' inner circle along with James and John. Yet, Peter denied Jesus three times when his love for Jesus should have been demonstrated the most. While Jesus was inside being tried after His arrest, Peter was outside in the temple courtyard warming his hands by the fire. When a servant girl questioned him about his relationship with Jesus, Peter did not hesitate to say, "I don't know the man."

Have you ever been like Peter and denied Jesus? Have you ever said, "I don't know the man" or something similar?

About Peter

Peter is mentioned in the New Testament more than anyone else except Paul. Peter took the lead on many occasions when Jesus addressed all twelve disciples. After Jesus' resurrection, Peter became one of the most influential Christian leaders in the early church in the first century.

Peter was so close to Jesus that most people think he was the first disciple to be called, but he wasn't. His name comes first in every list of the disciples in the gospels. He and his younger brother Andrew were disciples of John the Baptist before they became disciples of Jesus. When Andrew found out about Jesus, he took his brother Simon to Jesus. It was there and then that Simon became Peter. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas, which means Peter. (John 1:42)

Peter's Love For Jesus

Once when Jesus asked His disciples, “And who do you say I am?” it was only Peter who answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-20)

Unlike the other disciples, Peter had a special relationship with Jesus. Whenever Jesus asked a question to all the disciples, Peter was the first and often the only one courageous enough to answer. He was one of the three disciples in Jesus' inner circle along with James and John. They went along with Jesus on many occasions when the other disciples did not go.

At first, Peter didn't want Jesus to wash his feet. Then he decided that he wanted Jesus to wash his entire body. Peter wanted to build three tabernacles on Mount Transfiguration,

Peter was the only one bold enough to get out of the boat and attempt to walk on water because he wanted to reach Jesus on the other side of the lake (Matthew 14:15-33).

Peter loved Jesus so much that when he died at age 75, he was crucified upside because he did want to be crucified the same way Jesus was crucfied.


Jesus' Relationship With Peter

Just as Peter had a special relationship with Jesus, Jesus also had a very special relationship with Peter. Jesus singled him out and called him by name during His three-year ministry. Once Jesus told Peter, “I have prayed for you because Satan intends to sift you like wheat" (Luke 22:31-34).

Peter Denied Jesus Three Times

Peter's three denials of Jesus are so important that they are included in all four of the gospels. Jesus predicted during the Last Supper that Peter would disown Him before the rooster crowed. It happened just as Jesus had said.

While Jesus' trial was going on, all the other disciples fled, but Peter stayed outside warming his hands by a fire in the courtyard. He denied his master three times. The first denial was to a servant girl. The second denial was to a servant girl and a bystander. Then Peter began swearing and cursing, and his third denial was directed to the entire crowd.

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Notice that all this happened after Peter had declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and within hours after Peter protected Jesus in the garden by cutting off the ear of Malchus, one of the soldiers who arrested Jesus.

But Why?

Because of Peter's love for Jesus, people can't help wondering why Peter denied Him not once, not twice, but three times.

Why would Peter deny knowing Jesus after spending significant time with Him for three years? Why would Peter deny Jesus three times and even curse and swear during his third denial?

Biblical scholars have come to the conclusion that Peter denied Jesus three times because of weakness and fear. Peter was afraid Jesus would die and he feared for his own life. Peter wasn’t nearly as courageous as he thought he was until this moment. Therefore, he denied the One he loved and the One who loved him.

When people read about Peter's three denials of Jesus, here are several things that must be considered:

  • Jesus revealed to Peter earlier that Satan had asked for permission to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31). Jesus prayed for Peter, but He knew Peter would deny Him.
  • Peter became the pillar of the early church in Jerusalem where he exhorted and trained others to follow the Lord Jesus. He preached his first sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
  • Peter continues to strengthen people through his two books, 1 and 2 Peter.

Yes, Peter denied Jesus three times because of his human frailty. He was weak and fearful. Jesus was not outside to hear the three denials, but He knew about them in advance. He had told Peter what was going to happen. Peter cried after the denials. That indicated his remorse and repentance. Peter had a second chance for reinstatement and restoration after he messed up. Even though he denied Jesus, he knew deep down inside that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

If the truth is told, many of us are like Peter in some ways. We talk without thinking. We sink when we try to walk on water like Peter because we take our eyes off of Jesus.

We have denied Jesus by the thoughts we think, by the words we speak, and by the evil deeds we do that go against everything Jesus taught. We deny Jesus when we choose our will over His.

Yes, Peter messed up on that particular occasion, but the latter part of his life was much greater than that mistake he made in the courtyard on the night of His Master's trial.

Peter knew we could mess up sometimes, but he encouraged us to remember this:

"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people set apart for God" (1 Peter 2:9).

  • All About Peter: A Disciple of Jesus
    In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus questioned His disciples about who people said He was. The disciples responded to the question about the public opinion. But when it came to the personal question, “And who do YOU say I am?” it was only Peter who answered.


Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on June 28, 2021:

Good question

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