April 2 – Peter’s Impulsive Self–confidence

“Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.’ ”

Matthew 26:33


Prior to Jesus’ death, Peter’s trust in himself rather than God distorted his judgment concerning loyalty to Jesus.

Like a self–willed child, Peter often heard and believed only what he wanted to. He failed to grasp the Lord’s warning that his faith would be severely tested. At the Last Supper Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). But Peter was unfazed by these words. Instead, he boasted, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (v. 33).

Christ in His divine wisdom knew that Peter’s claim would not hold true. Therefore, He went further and soberly predicted during the Supper that Peter would soon not only desert His Lord but also deny Him three times. Now in Matthew 26, following Peter’s latest outburst of overconfidence, Jesus is constrained to repeat His prediction. Amazingly, Peter did not believe the thrust of Jesus’ words. He would rather fool himself and believe that Jesus was mistaken about his faithfulness and loyalty.

In reality, Peter’s pride deceptively told him it was impossible for him to deny the Lord. It also deceived him by filling him with a sense of superiority over others and a supreme confidence in his own strength.

Like Peter, we often display our pride and ignorance when we brashly claim great self–confidence about something that turns out just the opposite a short time later. For example, we might presumptuously assert to Christian friends that we always maintain our testimony, no matter what the situation. Then, to our shame, the very next week we lie, cheat, or shade the truth to get ourselves out of a difficult circumstance.

But what a reassurance to know that Jesus was willing to die for proud, thoughtless disciples such as Peter and careless followers such as us. Furthermore, our Lord is constantly in the business of forgiving and restoring those who stumble: “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).


Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that today and every day God would make you more confident in His grace and power and less reliant on your own wisdom.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 16:13–28. What important principle in verses 24–26 can help you avoid Peter’s impulsive mistakes?[1]

Peter either missed or disregarded what Jesus had just said about His being raised and appearing to them. He was so concerned about defending his loyal character that, in typical boldness, he blurted out, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Proud, self-confident Peter, convinced of the strength of his love for Jesus, presumptuously proclaimed himself to be the truest of the true.

Like a self-willed child, Peter seemed to hear only what he wanted to hear and believe only what he wanted to believe. During the Last Supper, only an hour or so earlier, Jesus had given the disciples a similar warning. Speaking specifically to Peter, He said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). Though directed right at Peter, the “you” in this verse is plural (humas), indicating that the warning extended to the other disciples as well. They would all be so severely tested by Satan that it would seem as if they were being shaken violently like a tray of wheat in the harvester’s hand. “But I have prayed for you [singular],” Jesus went on to say, “that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (v. 32).

But Peter was oblivious to the Lord’s words. Instead of acknowledging his need and expressing gratitude for the Lord’s protection, Peter boasted, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (v. 33). Unimpressed with that claim, Jesus responded, “I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (v. 34). With those compassionate but stinging words, Jesus singled out Peter as one who not only would desert Him but would even deny Him.[2]

33 Some have objected that Jesus’ prediction of the scattering of all the disciples (v. 31) conflicts with Peter’s following Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard (e.g., G. Klein, “Die Verleugnung des Petrus: Eine traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung,” ZTK 58 [1961]: 297; M. Wilcox, “The Denial-Sequence in Mark xiv. 26–31, 66–72,” NTS 17 [1970–71]: 426–36). But this overlooks the fact that all the disciples actually fled (v. 56) and that Peter followed only “at a distance” (v. 58) and then denied Jesus. At the end of the day, all the sheep were scattered; all had fallen away.

Peter does not respond directly to Jesus’ quotation, nor to his promise to meet him in Galilee. But this does not mean that vv. 31b–32 are misplaced redactional additions, for Peter’s reply is psychologically convincing. On the one hand, he has learned more about Jesus than he knew at Caesarea Philippi (16:21–28); as a result he is able to accept the idea of suffering for both Jesus and himself. On the other hand, his notion of suffering is bound up with the heroism of men like the Maccabean martyrs, not with voluntary sacrifice—hence v. 51 (cf. Jn 18:10). He is prepared for suffering but is not yet ready for what he thinks of as defeat. More important, he reacts on a primal level to Jesus’ prediction in v. 31a: “It would be natural for him to be too taken up with the implied slur on his loyalty to pay much attention to anything else” (Cranfield, Mark, 429).[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 26:33). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 606–607). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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