“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. –Matthew 26:34-35
After the Last Supper Peter and the other disciples gathered at the Mount of Olives. Jesus told them that in fulfillment of prophecy they would each scatter because of him: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matt. 26:31). Up until this point there had been almost no reasons for anyone to doubt the commitment that the disciples had to Jesus. They had traveled hundreds of miles, experienced miracles, and had been around Jesus long enough to witness the messiah among them.
Despite witnessing all of these events, the disciples lacked the true wisdom to understand what Jesus was going to do in Jerusalem. The idea of a warrior king was still latent within their minds as they argued for power and position among each other. Jesus was about to suffer the worst death and experience the forsaken presence of God, and the disciples were unaware of it.
While the disciples stay quiet Peter speaks out. He boldly states his unwavering commitment to Christ. Christ, knowing all things, tells Peter that he will in fact deny him, and even tells him how many times (Matt. 26:34)! After Christ emphasizes the point once more, Peter heightens his commitment by saying he would die with Christ rather than denying him (Matt. 26:33). This is an ironic statement considering what events would unfold in mere hours. Peter was speaking from his passions and was trying to cash a check he couldn’t afford. He would have the opportunity to die with Christ but, instead, he chooses to fight by the sword and flee. He ultimately denies Christ three times just as Jesus said.
Peter failed to live up to his own commitments. But before anyone decides to condemn Peter as a hypocrite, one must realize how the noetic effects of sin has ruined our minds and our understanding. Peter could not recognize his depraved nature. He had the best intentions, but his body and mind were broken by sin, and could not understand what Christ was bringing to the world. His sin and the sin of all people destroys any true desires to worship God and follow his ways. The disciples failed to stand by their leader, but everyone would have failed. In many ways, this is why the Easter message is powerful, because it tells the story of broken people who could not get things right on their own.
Christ knew that he was the only one who could bring about restoration. Despite his followers abandoning him, Christ took the punishment for sin and fulfilled his promises to the world. Unlike all of the broken commitments made by humanity, Christ stayed strong. This message transcends time and is therefore just as powerful today. Through the power of the Holy Spirit all people are able to change and make an everlasting commitment to follow Christ.
When Christ resurrected from the dead and poured his Holy Spirit unto the believers in the upper room, there entire nature changed. No longer did they have to live as sinners in opposition towards God; their words and commitments towards God would have meaning. Their sins would be forgiven and they could live with the Spirit of Christ inside of them.
Peter would never deny Christ again; instead, he made right the commitments he failed to live up to. Peter, around thirty years later, followed his martyred savior to the cross. In Rome they persecuted Peter and when sentenced to the cross he requested to be nailed upside-down since he wasn’t deserving to die the way his Lord did. The rooster crowed in his life, but in God’s mercy Peter was offered grace and salvation. Though may all people learn a valuable lesson from Peter and accept Christ and never deny him before the rooster crows.