Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

Easter and the Plague: Nothing Has Changed About the Easter Story — Just Your Story, Part 6


Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III

TEXT: Mark 14:27-3

And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

As I was studying this passage regarding the denial of Peter, I recalled an old song titled “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille,” which was sung by Kenny Rogers. In light of the fact that Peter denied Jesus Christ at a time when Christ needed him the most, I found the lyrics to this song very interesting:

In a bar in Toledo across from the depot
On a bar stool she took off her ring
I thought I’d get closer so I walked on over
I sat down and asked her name

When the drinks finally hit her
She said I’m no quitter, but I finally quit livin’ on dreams
I’m hungry for laughter and here ever after
I’m after whatever the other life brings

In the mirror I saw him, and I closely watched him
I thought how he looked out of place
He came to the woman who sat there beside me
He had a strange look on his face

The big hands were calloused he looked like a mountain
For a minute I thought I was dead
But he started shaking, his big heart was breaking
He turned to the woman and said

You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille
With four hungry children and a crop in the field
I’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times
But this time your hurting won’t heal
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

The events of Mark 14:27-31 take place on Thursday – the fifth day of Passion Week. Jesus Christ and his disciples are eating the Passover meal – what we call the Last Supper – and Jesus is explaining to His disciples what is about to take place. Earlier on this day, Jesus Christ had told his disciples to prepare an upper room for their Passover meal. They did so, and Jesus and his twelve disciples share the Passover meal together. At this point, Judas has already left to betray Jesus Christ, and Jesus is talking with the remaining eleven disciples about what is going to happen very soon. During the course of this discussion, Jesus predicts Peter’s betrayal.

Of all the disciples, Peter was the most zealous. Peter should have been the one who was the most loyal to Jesus Christ. He made that great statement in Matthew 16:16: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter walked on water with Jesus. Peter was the one who said to Jesus, ‘Lord, we have left all for you, where else can we go?’ Peter even had the nerve to challenge Jesus when Jesus told him that He would have to die to fulfill God’s plan.

But despite all this, when the chips were down, when Jesus really needed his friends to back him up, Peter and all of the other disciples, except one, turned and ran away.

After the Last Supper, Jesus Christ and the disciples went out to the Garden of Gethsemane. There, Jesus takes his three closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, and asks them to watch while he went a little further away and prayed. Jesus cries out to God and says, “if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Of course, in the end, he submits to God’s will. But during the course of the night, while Jesus is praying, he periodically goes back to check on Peter, James, and John. Each time, instead of finding them praying and watching, he finds them sleeping.

Mark 14:37-38 says: “And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus directly addresses Simon Peter. I believe Jesus is trying to say to Peter: “Look, if you can’t stay awake and watch with me, what are you going to do when my enemies come?”

After another period of prayer, Jesus Christ returns and finds his disciples sleeping again. By this time, he can see his betrayer and a mixed mob of Temple guards and priests approaching the garden. Jesus tells his disciples to get up because the time of his betrayal is at hand.

The Gospel of John tells us that at this point Peter attempts to make good on his promise to stand by Jesus until the very end. Of course, as is often the case with Peter, he goes about it in an impetuous manner which is totally out of the will of God. In this case, Peter draws his sword and swings it at the man nearest him who happens to be a servant of the high priest. This man’s name is Malchus, according to the Gospel of John. As Malchus sees Peter’s sword coming, he naturally attempts to get out of the way, and gets his ear cut off (instead of his head, which is what Peter was likely aiming for).

Jesus reprimands Peter for this action, heals the servant’s ear, and allows himself to be arrested. At this point, all of the disciples cut and run. These same disciples who said that they would never deny Christ, ran away from him at the most critical moment. From examining the Biblical record, we do know that at least three disciples attempted to follow Jesus — they most likely ran off to avoid being arrested themselves at first, and then cautiously followed at a safe distance. We know for sure that Peter is one of these disciples. The Gospel of Mark speaks of a young man who attempted to follow Christ, however he was caught by the guards, left his coat in their hands and ran off. Scholars say that this “young man” was Mark himself. And the Gospel of John speaks of “another disciple” who was “known to the high priest” who followed Jesus into the palace of the high priest. This other disciple was probably John.

Later, after Jesus Christ is arrested and his trial has begun, Peter is standing outside the high priest’s palace, probably waiting for word about what is happening to Jesus. The “other disciple” who was known to the high priest talks with the servant girl at the door and she allows Peter to come in and warm himself at the fire. We know that at this point Peter can see Jesus as he is on trial. But the Bible indicates that Jesus’ back is turned to Peter. This is where the denials begin, as recorded in Mark 14:66-72:

And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.

But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.

And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.

But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

What can we learn from these passages and the implications of Peter’s denial?

I. Peter’s Denial Began When he Lacked Understanding and Wanted to do Things his Own Way

Peter found himself on the slippery slope of denial when he couldn’t have his own way. We see throughout the Scriptures that Peter was a bold and outspoken member of Jesus’ group. He was rash and full of zeal and enthusiasm no matter what else was going on around him. When we think of Peter, we oftentimes think of the word “impetuous.”

Peter is also a study in contrasts. Peter praised Jesus Christ as the Messiah and then later rebuked Christ for saying that He would have to die. When Jesus told Peter to drop his net into the water, Peter first protested saying, “Lord, we have toiled all night and have caught nothing,” but the next instant, he says, “Whatever you say, Lord, we will do.” Peter begged to walk on the water with Jesus, but then he got scared and cried out for Jesus to save him. And as we saw earlier, Peter could hardly stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane, but when Jesus’ enemies came, he jumped up and was ready to fight.

Peter had a very prominent place among the apostles. Jesus declared him to be a “rock” and stated, “On this rock, I will build my church…” He called Peter “blessed” for knowing that Jesus was the Messiah, yet a few verses later, Jesus had to rebuke Peter. In Matthew 16, Jesus said “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

Peter did not understand where Jesus’ plan was going and so he wanted to change Jesus’ plan to something that made sense to him. Peter wanted to operate based upon the plan he had in mind.

The sad fact is that so many of us are like Peter. God tells us what He wants us to do, but because we don’t understand God’s plan, we want to go about doing things our own way. The smart thing to do is to trust God, follow His plan, and let God work out everything in the future. But if we get upset because God is not doing things our way, we are on the slippery slope of denying Christ ourselves. That leads to my next point.

II. Peter Did Not Rely on God’s Strength, but His Own.

We see that Peter sometimes did not rely on God’s strength to get him through difficulties. He believed that he could do things on his own. In fact, he and all of the disciples who fled when Jesus was arrested, probably had a smug self-confidence that they (unlike Judas) would be with Jesus until the end. Matthew Henry states in his commentary that when Jesus Christ revealed that one of them would be a traitor, the disciples asked “Is it I? Is it I?” Now, when Jesus Christ revealed that they would all forsake him they say, “It shall never be me.”

At the Last Supper, Peter is confident that he will not betray Jesus or run away from Him when the trials came. Peter probably thought that he was stronger than all the other disciples. But when it came down to the wire, Peter not only ran, but he denied Christ three times.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter failed to follow the example of his Lord. After finding him asleep, Jesus tells Peter, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Peter was depending on his fleshly strength instead of asking God for strength as Jesus was doing. Oftentimes, we do the same thing. We “lean to our own understanding” and think we have it all together instead of leaning on God. Jesus Christ leaned on God and He was given the strength to follow through until the end. Peter leaned on his own strength and failed miserably.

In the situations that we face in our daily lives, Jesus’ words to us are the same as they were to Peter. “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus is saying do not depend on your own abilities for you will fail. Instead, stay alert and pray to God for strength to overcome. Just as Jesus overcame in the Garden and submitted His will to God, we can also overcome situations in our lives and find the strength to follow through with God’s plan.

III. The Aftermath of Peter’s Denial

Now, let’s look at what happened after Peter denied the Lord. First the text says, “Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.” Jesus’ prediction came true. Peter had denied the Lord three times. As soon as the last denial was off his lips and the rooster crowed, Jesus’ words came back to Peter. The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus, who was standing up above Peter, either on a balcony or by a window, turned and looked at Peter. Now, you may think that Jesus was saying “I told you so”. But I believe Jesus turned to Peter to let him know that even though Peter had denied Jesus and turned his back on Him, Jesus was still not giving up on Peter.

Peter left the high priest’s palace and went out and wept. Luke says he “wept bitterly.” This is in keeping with Peter’s personality. Just as he vehemently denied Christ (cursing and swearing that he did not know Him), so he wept with a broken heart. I do not believe Peter wept because he had been found out. I believe Peter wept because he finally realized how weak and feeble he really was. All of his confident talking had come to no avail. Peter was now a broken man.

The lesson for us today is that we should not wait until we fall flat on our faces to admit our weakness. We should not wait until we hit rock bottom to watch and pray. If you are in a relationship with someone right now, and you are thinking about getting married, but you just know that this person is not the right person for you, don’t go through with a marriage that you know is not God’s will — thinking that you can handle it and that you can “change” him or her after you are married, because it will not work. You’re not as strong as you think you are. Realize that you need God now.

Someone once said that ‘God will break you down before he builds you up.’ God had to break Peter before he could raise him back up. Peter had to realize that he could not do God’s will in his own strength or his own way. Once Peter was broken, he learned to trust in God.

In closing, I would like to say that there were some people who did not run away from Jesus in his darkest hour. We are told in John 19:25, “there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” We also know that John the apostle was there. These are the people who did not forsake Jesus after his arrest and crucifixion. They were with Him until the very end.

Why did these women and John stand by Jesus? Why didn’t they run away? I simply believe that these women and John had a more complete understanding of the Scripture. They had a fuller understanding of God’s plan and the work that he was accomplishing in the world. Listen to Matthew Henry on this: “We do not find Jesus’ mother wringing her hands, or tearing her hair, or rending her clothes, or making an outcry; but, with a wonderful composure, standing by the cross, and her friends with her. Surely she and they were strengthened by a divine power to this degree of patience; and surely the virgin Mary had a fuller expectation of his resurrection than the rest had, which supported her thus.” Mary and her friends stood by Jesus because they had grasped somehow what Jesus’ death really meant. They had gotten a hold of God’s plan and they were in step with it.

When you get in line with God’s plan, you can have peace in the midst of a storm. You can have joy in the most devastating situations. If a tornado destroys your home, you can say ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ and just keep on going. You can have faith when a situation looks hopeless. If you are in line with God, you can remain loyal to Jesus Christ when it seems like things are not going to work out. Thank God for Mary, John and Mary Magdalene who stood by Jesus while He was suffering on the cross. Thank God they did not deny Jesus like Peter did.

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Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 18:8: “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at dw3@gospellightsociety.com and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.


Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.

He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.

He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.