I Will Not Deny You (Part 1)
Jesus had told His disciples in John 13:33 that where He was going they would not be able to come. This led to a question and a follow-up comment by Jesus. The dialogue continues in John 13:36-38 - "Simon Peter said to Him, 'Lord, where are You going?' Jesus answered him, 'Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.' Peter said to Him, 'Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down My life for Your sake.' Jesus answered him, 'Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.'"

Mark shares some supplemental information on this exchange. Jesus also said - "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered'" (Mark 14:27; cf. Zech. 13:7). All of the apostles (except John) would stumble that evening; Judas would betray, Peter would deny, and the rest would flee at His arrest.

But, Jesus' death was not His end. "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee" (Mark 14:28; cf. John 21:1). After His resurrection, Jesus would gather His sheep together once again.

"Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for your sake" (John 13:37). Peter does not understand why this period of separation must come to pass (probably because he is still thinking in terms of a physical kingdom). Perhaps he thinks that Jesus doubts his commitment. Peter believes in his heart that he is willing to die for his Lord, and he wants Jesus to believe that he is ready to follow Him now anywhere!

After asking Simon Peter whether he really would lay down his life for His sake (cf. John 13:38), Jesus then says - "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat" (Luke 22:31). Jesus calls Peter "Simon" and repeats his name to emphasize the prediction He is about to make. He does not use the name "Peter" (meaning "a rock") which signifies a more stable character. Although Peter was zealous, his spiritual strength at this time was not nearly as great as he believed it to be. It should be observed that the Greek word for "you" here is in the plural. In other words, Satan hadn't just asked for Peter, but he was after all of the apostles!

"But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:32). Although His words here would be applicable to them all, Jesus was specifically directing these words to Peter. Peter would falter that evening and Satan's test would leave him in need of repentance, but his faith would not utterly fail. He would return as a stronger disciple and be a better leader among the brethren (e.g., Acts 2:14; cf. John 21:15-19).

"Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death" (Luke 22:33). Peter was still full of self-confidence. He didn't know his own heart very well, and he was ignorant of Satan's snares. At this moment he is willing to be imprisoned or even die for Jesus; a few hours later he couldn't withstand the taunts of a servant girl without denying the Lord! We, like Peter, tend to think that we are stronger than we really are. The wise will remember I Corinthians 10:12 - "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (cf. Rom. 12:3). It is easy to boast about what we will or will not do in a certain situation, but when the reality of such is upon us, we may act differently. Many today need to learn the lesson that Peter was about to; that is, one must depend upon God and not upon himself. Additionally, we should pray to God for deliverance from "the evil one" (Matt. 6:13).

We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.