Why Did Peter Fail?

J. R. Miller, 1905

One of the saddest disappointments of the story of our Lord's last days—is Peter's denial of his Master. If the gospel narrative were fiction—this incident would not be in it. We would have said it was impossible. Peter loved Jesus deeply and truly. He had received the name of "the rock." For three years he had been under the teaching and in the constant companionship of Jesus. He had special honor and favor in the apostle-family. His name stands always first in the list, and he was one of the three of the Master's closest personal friends. It was he who had made the great confession which won from Jesus such commendation.

We would have said that he was the last of the apostles who would deny his Lord! Yet, in spite of all—this bravest, most favored apostle, this man of rock, fell most ignominiously, fell, too, at a time when friendship to his Master ought to have made him truest and most loyal!

Why did Peter fail? His self-confidence made him weak. He slept in the Garden—when he ought to have been watching. Then he drew his sword to defend his Master. His next mistake was in following Jesus afar off. His last error was in joining the company by the fire, when he came in. The denial was already more than half made, when he sat down among the officers, trying to appear as one of them. After all this, it was easy then, when the maid teased him with being of the Galilean's party, to deny it.

Against the pitiful weakness and cowardliness of Peter—shine the faithfulness and graciousness of the Master! He heard it all—the denial thrice repeated, and the oaths and curses—He heard it all—but loved on! It was this marvelous forbearance, which saved Peter. It was the Master's look, which saved him.