Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you can’t follow now, but you will follow afterwards.”
Peter said to him, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for me? Most certainly I tell you, the rooster won’t crow until you have denied me three times.
Looking back it might seem that Peter was obviously overconfident, but I think that Peter represents most of us here. We may not all claim that we would lay down our life for someone, but it is certain that most of us wouldn’t do it given the chance. Here’s what the Bible says:
Romans 5:7 – For one will hardly die for a righteous man. Yet perhaps for a righteous person someone would even dare to die.
Jesus knew that in the not-too-distant future, not only would Peter not die for Him, but he would deny that he even knew Jesus, and do it three times. This demonstrates how high we think of our own strength. In reality, we are not strong people. As Christians, we still have the ability to try to do things in our own power. We will fail just like Peter unless we stop trying to perform and start depending on Jesus. This event also tells us something about Jesus too.
This proves that Jesus loved Peter just because He wanted to. If Jesus knew that Peter was going to do this, why did He continue to treat him so well? Jesus loved Peter like He loves all of us. He doesn’t love us because of our ability to die for Him. He doesn’t stop loving us because of our inability to defend Him. This is what the word grace means. It is Jesus’ unmerited favor for us. This is what marks a true Christian. It’s not that we don’t stumble in weakness at times, but the grace of God marks us for life because He loves us without condition.
I’ve thought quite a lot about this incident over the years and I honestly believe that if Peter had fallen on his face before the Lord and asked that it not be so, that Jesus would have caused the Holy Spirit to protect Peter and speak in Jesus defense when the time came. Even coming to Jesus in humility, however, requires that the Father draw us to Him (John 6:44). It is important that we come to Jesus in humility so that we can overcome our tendencies to do wrong.