What We Learn from Peter’s Epic Fail

By Daniel Darling

One of the most poignant scenes in the Easter narrative was written by someone who was not there, but who investigated the claims of the Christian movement and was able to paint for readers an agonizing scene of shame and betrayal.

Luke, a medical doctor by trade and commissioned to chronicle the Jesus movement, zooms in on the ashen visage of Simon Peter as he utters his final denial of Jesus. Alone among the gospel writers, Luke captures Jesus’ slightly turned face, his eyes catching one of his most loyal lieutenants in his worst moment.

Simon Peter seemed the least likely to feign ignorance of Jesus. After all, he was the leader who spoke up in defense of Jesus’ claims to be God. He was the one who stayed while many others left in response to Jesus’ difficult teachings. He leaped out of a boat in faith and walked on water with the Lord. Yet here, in a shadowy courtyard just steps from Jesus’ trial, he found himself disavowing the one he’d left everything to follow.

Peter’s epic fall gives us a window into what genuine courage — and the absence of it — looks like.

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