Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
~ Matthew 26:35 NKJV
The real tragedy of Peter denying Christ three times is not so much that he publicly refused to acknowledge his friend, mentor, and Savior. No, the tragedy is that he DIDN’T deny himself. At the mid-point of His teaching and ministry, our Lord had told the disciples that if they truly wished to follow Him, they must deny THEMSELVES and take up their cross and follow Him (Matt 16:24). And yet, although Peter had said in today’s verse “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You,” when finally given the opportunity to claim his Savior and die for his faith, Peter still held onto himself and denied his Lord. Nonetheless, Peter had said something very true: we MUST die to ourselves in order to keep from denying Christ.
Alone, we are such feeble creatures, prone to pride and self-centeredness, fond of our own lives as they are. A holy, self-sacrificing, gospel-centered life is not “natural” to our fallen nature, and so fear and selfishness and pride drive us to cling desperately to sin and self. It took three denials for Peter to realize this, and when he had, he wept bitterly at his failure (Matt 26:75). How many times have any of us denied Christ by not denying ourselves?
The call to revival in Christ is not just a call to deny ourselves, it is also a call to stop denying Christ in our lives. Jesus offers us a new life, a better life, an eternal life, if we will but deny our sinful nature. Once we deny ourselves, a void is left that God, in His abundant love and mercy, has offered to fill with the fullness of His Son. As Peter himself later wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV).” Let us therefore die so that we may truly live.