A Look at Peter’s Denial

Happy Holy Tuesday!

Today’s gospel has a lot of in it… take a look!

…like I said, a lot to unpack! In this gospel, Jesus foretells the dismal actions of two of the Twelve: Judas, who premeditates his betrayal because of his greed, while Peter denies Jesus out of fear.

But, what I would like to focus on for today is Peter’s bravado and the subsequent tragedy that follows that.

Because, let’s face it… Peter’s acting tough right now, but that’s all it is: an act.

Sure, he has a weapon that he’s hiding that, in a couple of hours he’ll use to slice off a servant’s ear when Jesus is betrayed by Judas. But, that doesn’t make him tough: that just makes him impulsive and reckless. That was not the time to fight, no matter how Peter may have longed to fight and defend the Lord in battle. It was time to stand up for Truth Himself.

And Peter doesn’t do this. On the contrary! Peter is happy to deny Jesus over and over again.

The Gospel of Matthew describes Peter’s denial as such:

This artwork depicts the denial of Peter:

The Denial of St. Peter, by Nikolaas Verkolje, 17th century. National Museum in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
The Denial of St. Peter, by Nikolaas Verkolje, 17th century. National Museum in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.

In the background, you can see Christ being questioned. And outside the door? There’s Peter playing it cool!

The worst part about this entire scene is not only is Peter denying Christ, but he is also deliberately Jesus’ commandments while doing so. Jesus told them not to swear or take oaths. So, what does Peter do? Swear and take oaths! Jesus told them that those who deny Him will be denied by Christ in the end. So, what does Peter do? He denies Christ! Jesus told them that, in order to be saved, they must take up their crosses and follow Him. So, what does Peter do? Everything he can to survive the moment.

Nor are Peter’s actions trivial. Earlier in the gospel, when Jesus was trying to tell his disciples that He must suffer and die, Peter rebukes Jesus for saying such things. To which Jesus replies to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” And then Christ says the following:

So, Peter knew this was coming, despite hoping against it. And he also knows full well that what he has done in this moment has separated him more fully from Jesus than death ever could. While he may not have premeditated his betrayal to Christ like Judas did, he has betrayed Christ through his denial.

And so he weeps bitterly.

Wouldn’t you?


Dear Jesus,

How many times through our actions have we denied You in our hearts, actions, and thoughts? Help bring us back into Your fold and have mercy on us, who are sinners.


Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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