Arising After Denial

You’re in a group of Christians sharing a meal and someone mentions how committed they are to Jesus. You chime in and say that you too are fully committed to Jesus. The rest of the group adds that they too are committed followers. However, soon those words are tested.

In Matthew 26:26-35, Jesus has finished the Passover meal with his disciples. They sang a hymn together and then go to the Mount of Olives where Jesus tells them that they will all fall away from him that very night. He reassures them, “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee (32).”

Fall away? How could that be possible after following Jesus all this time. If someone challenged your devotion to Jesus after walking with him for years, how would you respond? Peter tells Jesus, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away (33, NASB).” But Jesus warns Peter, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times (34).”

Could it be true? The rooster crows in the morning. Could it be that in just a few hours Peter would deny Jesus? The statement is in response to Peter, but he is not alone in reasserting his dedication to Jesus. “Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.’ All the disciples said the same thing too (35).” They all assert they would die with Jesus.

How deep is your devotion to Jesus? In a group of Christians it’s easy to declare your devotion, your dedication to following Christ. Yet when trials descend on your life—when others betray you, even those closest to you—how do you respond? “Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’ And immediately a rooster crowed (26:74).”

It’s a moment of truth when we realize we’ve denied Jesus. “Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly (75).” We should remember that when Jesus was arrested, “all the disciples left Him and fled (26:56).” They all stumbled, but they went on to help establish the Christian faith we have today.

Jesus told his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).” We will have days when we stumble, perhaps even shy away from expressing to others our devotion to Jesus. It is that inner struggle that Paul describes in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Paul reminded us, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).” In those weak moments, lean on Jesus to lift you up and restore you. Reaffirm that you “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).” Then go and feed His sheep.

© 2023, Chris G Thelen

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” – John 21:17. (NIV)


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