Peter Denies Jesus, and Weeps Bitterly

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”

74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him,“Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly. – Matthew 26:69-75.

Summary

Peter sits outside in the courtyard and makes the first of his three denials of his Lord. He repeats three times, with increasing emphasis, that he does not know Jesus Christ. His third denial is made to seem more authentic and sad by his cursing and swearing. ‘Immediately a rooster crowed.’ Peter remembers the words of his suffering Lord, and goes out to weep bitterly.

Analysis

The exact order of these three accusations differs from Gospel account to account. The fact that Peter denied Jesus three times with successive emphasis is common to all of the accounts. The fact that they differ is evidence of eyewitness accounts, not historical inaccuracies.

“I do not know the Man” (v.72) — Peter uses a veiled statement of contempt.

“your speech betrays you” (v.73) — Those who lived in Galilee could be recognized by the differences in accent and pronunciation of the guttural sounds of the Aramaic language.

Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” (v.74) — This again was an idiom which reflected contempt and is tragic in that he affirms this lie by cursing and swearing.

If anyone deserved to be damned, it is Peter for, in the face of such love, forgiveness, prophecy and miracles, he denied, three times with vehemence and an oath, the One whom he claimed to love. If Peter can be saved, anyone can be saved! The only difference between Peter and Judas was that Judas did not turn back to Jesus in faith.

“Immediately a rooster crowed” — This must have been a Roman rooster for the Jews, by a canon, were not allowed to keep chickens in Jerusalem because they caused the ground to be unholy.

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” (Luke 22:61.)

Luke records that Jesus looked at Peter just as the rooster crowed the third time. This implies that Annas and Caiaphas lived in the same house and that Jesus could either see the courtyard or He was being transferred between the two residences.

“So he went out and wept bitterly” (v.75) — Jesus’ knowing look breaks Peter’s heart. He is filled with remorse. So he goes out and weeps bitterly.

Peter was fulfilling prophecy in his denials and giving hope for all believers who have denied Jesus with their tongue, lives, and priorities. There is hope for anyone who turns back to Him in faith (John 21).


A few days later, by Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), the resurrected Jesus confronts Peter.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
19 …“Follow Me.” ~ John 21:15-17, 19.

Jesus accepts Peter’s affirmation of love and calls for a recommitment to His cause.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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