“And 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.”
Are we in denial? Are we following the lead of Peter in denying our Lord? Is today a dual fulfillment of Peter’s lying.
Like many of you, I have often wondered why Almighty God chose the Apostle Peter in the first place to be the one who would deny Him three times. After all, Peter seemed to have been so strong and so devoted to the Lord. Hadn’t he said to Jesus, “I will lay down my life for thee”? (John 13:37) Yet, when the time came to exhibit courage, fear overcame the Apostle and he denied his Lord.
Let’s first examine what transpired, employing John 18 and Luke 22.
- Jesus was dispatched to the palace of the High Priest and while the Apostle John went in with Jesus, Peter stayed outside.
- John goes to get him and as he enters the woman who kept the door asked him if he was a disciple of Christ and he uttered the first denial, “I am not.”
- It was cold and Peter found himself in the midst of those servants and officers who made the fire of coals to keep warm. As he was warming himself, one of them once again asked him if he was one of the Lord’s disciples and again Peter replied, “I am not.”
- Then one of the servants of the high priest asked Peter, “Did I not see you in the garden with Christ.” Whereupon Peter denied Jesus once more and the cock crowed.
- Then, as Luke, points out, Jesus looked upon Peter and Peter went out and wept.
There is a certain fascination with the Gospel of John, almost like you are seeing the unfolding of today’s events as you read each colourful verse. As I read the three denials of Peter, a picture came to my mind of the treatment of Jesus Christ today in the media and in the minds of so many theologians and our brethren. In my mind, this picture of Peter denying the Lord seems to be an allegory of some sort, which God employed then to help us open our eyes now? A prophecy of sort, perhaps!
A local Bible scholar put his wisdom to work and suggested that Peter’s first denial might simply represent religious acceptance, that the Officer in the second suggests bureaucracy and thus political acceptance. He pointed to the kinsmen in the third denial and speculated the need for social acceptance. His is a fascinating analysis, yet, I wonder, “Is there more?”
In answering this we have to look to the principal players of Christ’s time? The Bible suggests two groups of significance.
On one side, it is the Jews, represented by the chief priests, Pharisees, servants and officers. Some of us would say that, in reality, these are the people who described themselves in Matthew 8:33 as, “we be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage.” Of course, it follows that they couldn’t have descended from Jacob Israel since his seed was in bondage in Egypt. No doubt they were from Esau, at least most of them, but Judah, in the form of the ‘bad figs” who returned from Babylon, perhaps played a leading part as well. Sometimes we make the mistake in assuming that only the bad figs returned from Babylonian captivity but the Galileans and good people from Judah and Levi came back as well. After all, Christ’s descendants were in Babylon. Nevertheless, the broad description of the antagonists seems to include a greater part of the Jewish people at the time, at least those of Esau and the bad figs?” Obviously, we know that the chief priests and Pharisees exerted their leading roles. They were out to kill our God and notwithstanding the attempt to blame the actual killing on the Romans, John 19: 15-19 clearly shows it was these Jewish leaders who, at the very least, participated in the crucifixion.
The principal players on the other side were, of course, our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, the Almighty God, and his followers, represented by Peter and John, the early Christians.
John reveals it was cold and that inside the courtyard of the High Priest’s palace, servants and officers had made a fire of coals to keep warm. That once in Peter stood with the others until he left in shame because of his denials. Yet, what of today! Indeed, if this little story of Peter has a hidden meaning, then today’s participants should be identifiable as the descendants of the bad figs and the Esauites in their midst, (including their leaders), and on the other side, Christians (and our Christ and our leaders). If this latter is so, it is easy to see why Peter was selected for his role because he was the obvious leader of the disciples, the dominant guardian in front of the people. Now, if Peter is symbolic to someone today, it would be to our theologians in the churches and in media. And can we compare His adversaries at the time of His Crucifixion with those who appear to control almost every facet of our lives today, and who have influenced the dramatic change in our customs and in our faith.
The Apostle Paul talked about a great falling away from the faith just before Christ returns to take up His Kingdom. Sadly, he was referring to our time. You know, we Christians are a funny lot; we truly are sheep because we are so easy to lead. Notwithstanding that our faith differs dramatically with the Jewish faith, we have tried our best to blend the two of them together, particularly over the past half-century. It doesn’t seem to matter that Christianity is based on the foundation of Christ or that Judaism is based on the tradition of its elders and that their God has no son (and will never accept Christ under any circumstance), it is our theologians who lead the charge toward unity, not the rabbi’s, who rarely utter the phrase “Judeo-Christian.”
Peter wanted in out of the cold so badly that when the woman accused him of being a disciple of Christ, he said for the first time, “I am not.” Certainly, his fear got the best of him but it was also very likely that he wanted to warm himself by the fire. Is there a parallel to consider, that is, did we Christians want in on the comforts offered by an Esau controlled world so badly that we permitted our theologians to lead us to the first step of denying Christ by tying a different faith to ours. It began so innocently as we adopted the two little words, Judeo-Christianity. Most of us didn’t even realize the complexity of the subtle change, anymore than we would have realized had we heard terms like, Judeo-Islam or Islam-Christianity. Still, this little toehold was like the mustard seed, it was destined to grow and grow and grow.
So, we Christians should understand and have greater empathy to Peter’s second denial. He was in out of the cold, warming himself by the coal of fires. He was comfortable and didn’t want to go out in the cold again. So when asked for the second time if he was one of the disciples, he didn’t hesitate and said, “I am not.” As an aside, we all know how much easier it is to fall to a sin a second time around. Still, conversely, we Christians, led by the banner call of our theologians, also found ourselves addicted to the comforts of this exciting new world, where we shared not only the warm feeling of the false unity of a common purpose and a common God, but the material comforts made possible by the vast amount of credit made available to us. And all we had to do was open our borders for other peoples and their gods and of course, soften our faith to make it more acceptable to our partners in faith. For example, it didn’t seem to bother most of True Israel when we permitted prayer to be eliminated from the schools and other places. Then, few voices were raised when our new multi-religious society demanded even more concessions, along with the myriad of other little denials of our faith, and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Certainly, by this time, most of the theologians had fallen prey to a watered-down faith and had no desire to rock the boat. And so, like the pied piper, they merrily led their flocks along the path of what John referred to as “lukewarm” in Revelation 3:16. The sheep became so involved with making a living, paying the bills and having fun, we failed to take notice. The second denial was complete and we began to enter the phase of the third denial.
Remember, after his second denial, Peter was still by the fire, nice and comfortable, just like we were at the beginning of our comfort level. When you sit and reflect upon his dilemma, can you sense what he must have been going through in his mind. He had just spent over three years in close association with the Lord. Imagine the tremendous blessing He and the other disciples experienced of knowing firsthand that Jesus was the Almighty God. Yet, he denied his God a second time. I suppose his deciding factors included his being alone, an Israelite from the Tribe of Benjamin amongst the Jews and likely being very fearful.
Now, as we look at this in the context of our denials, remember, our Israel nations were mightily blessed when we had no reservations as to the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and were led by theologians who preached His Message, despite blindness. Sadly, our downturn began when we turned our back on Him. Still, I suppose by the time our second denial phase had run its course, there must have been a deep seated feeling that we too were experiencing the pangs of denial; that easy money that led to material comfort was rapidly turning to a form of bondage and everything that set us apart from other nations in the world began to crumble as the vice tightened. And our theologians, led by televangelists, were now so restricted in what they could and could not say, seemed so conquered by their own comfort level, they even began to deny Scripture when it would not conform to the new reality fashioned for the Christian world.
But, the third denial was yet to come. In Peter’s case, this time, a servant of the high priest said to him, “Did I not see thee in the garden.” In other words, “You were in the garden with the Lord Jesus Christ.” And Peter made his third and final denial. Remember the seriousness of this particular denial. Despite his walking with the Almighty God for three plus years, Peter turned his back on God.
And as sad as it is, we are rapidly turning our back on Jesus Christ, the Almighty God, today. The little foothold has turned into a stranglehold. Jesus is no longer the central focus of our nations. It’s astonishing how the denial process caught fire! The Divinity of Christ is now rejected by a huge percentage of theologians and Israelites. The non-Israelite controlled media is spewing denigrating stories of Christ, stories meant to deceive, without fear of retribution from the Christian world. And, think about this! In many public ceremonies and government functions the past decade, the name of Jesus could not be mentioned and when it can be, numerous theologians shy away from it anyway. You know, readers, in the late seventies, I attended a huge prayer breakfast here in Vancouver and it seemed that the name of Jesus was uttered every couple of minutes. I attended a similar prayer breakfast in the early 2000’s and the name of Christ was not mentioned until the seventh speaker and even he almost made it a mention in passing. Isn’t it sad that even our special holidays are being hijacked? It is important not to forget that in any partnership or merger, there have to be sacrifices. And for their part in the unity merger, Christians are being asked to give up Jesus Christ.
You might think, the denial process is almost complete. Australian Brenton Edwards wrote, “Our Christian church system is losing members, with the ministers and pastors uttering not a word about the corruption of ethics, morals, social principles and family values within the social structure they shepherd.” Certainly we are in the phase of the third denial but the worst is yet to come when today’s high priest makes his pronouncement to Christians in fear of losing their comforts, “Are you in relationship with Jesus Christ.”
“Immediately the cock crew,” wrote the Apostle John. And Luke tells us that Peter went out and wept. But not before the Lord looked upon Peter! What a feeling of guilt and betrayal he must have felt. But when the cock crows this time around, how will our theologians feel now that they have deserted the Lord and His Law? We know the Lord will look upon them with great distain. Zechariah 11:17 tells us this, “Woe to the worthless and foolish shepherd who deserts the flock!” Well, the Peter leaders of today have deserted their flock for the comforts of Babylon and will pay the price. Then too, what about the easily led sheep? John quoted Jesus’ words in John 3:18, “…but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” We can only hope that our brethren will come to their senses. And of the antagonists, particularly the non-Israelite descendents of Esau, we don’t have to concern ourselves because the Bible has much to say about their end. As I wrote in a previous article (December TKC), I believe their 40 years of probation expires this year and they now have but a short time to turn to the Christ they have so strenuously rejected.
For those who are into Bible numerics, you might wonder whether the “three,” as in the number of denials, is of any significance. It’s interesting that Ed Vallowe states that the number three denotes DIVINE COMPLETENESS AND PERFECTION. He points out that it is called the Divine Number because it is mentioned so often with Holy things. For example, among other things, it speaks of the Trinity of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and the Trinity of Man – Body, Soul and Spirit. Important to us, the number THREE is also associated with the Restoration of Israel. (Hosea 6:1-2) In his book, “Bible Mathematics” Vallowe devotes eight full pages to the importance of the number “three,” including demonstrating that the writers of some of the Books of the Bible associate the number with the Resurrection and give much evidence for their contention. The fact that it is mentioned 497 times in the Word of God cannot be shunted aside.
I shall end by asking if you think it possible that Jesus’ return is tied into the event, “and immediately the cock crew?” If so, is there still time for our theologians and our brethren to repent and back away from the denials? Is there still time for True Israel to return to what made us so great? Not likely, but when the cock crows, I am certain that like Peter, we shall weep great tears as we realize how the comforts of the fire bear no comparison to the true light, the Lord Jesus Christ.