Matthew 26:31-35 tell of the interchange between Jesus and Peter where the Savior tells Peter that he will deny him three times before the cock crows in the morning. Peter’s response is quite telling. He says, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” (Matthew 26:35).
The question I asked is class, “How are we all like Peter?” got a great discussion going. If Peter really believed Jesus, how would he have responded? One student commented that she would definitely stay away from other people if Jesus told her that this would happen. Peter’s response tells us that he did not really believe Jesus, that perhaps he was confident that he would react with conviction. We see him react with strength when he steps to the defense of Jesus in Matthew 26:51 when he takes his sword to ward off the arresting officers when they come to Gethsemane to take Jesus into custody. This act proves to us that Peter had every intention of defending Jesus, of standing up for what he knew to be true.
But later in the narrative we read of Peter going to Caiaphas’ palace: “they that laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end” (Matthew 26:57-58).
Shortly after his arrival, Peter is asked three times if he was connected to Jesus, and each time he denies knowing him. When the rooster crows after his third denial we read, “Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).
How we are like Peter
All of us have the ability to be on our best behavior. We each can remember times when we stood up for what was right, when we made decisions in the face of adversity that were noble. If we are honest with ourselves, we also remember times when our behavior did not exactly match with our ideals. Peter illustrates how susceptible we can be to our own overconfidence. To be safe, he should’ve stayed out of Caiaphas’ palace. There are so many examples in the lives of youth where individuals think that they “got this” and “can handle” certain types of dangerous situations. Instead of tempting ourselves by putting ourselves into dangerous circumstances, we would do well to remember Peter and stay out of the palace.
The worst room to be in on Fast Sunday is the kitchen. Recovering alcoholics should avoid bars at all costs- we had a good time coming up with examples like these to illustrate the principle.
On the other side of this idea is the thought that we should be in certain places at certain times. In Luke 2:49 we read of Jesus telling his mother that he “was about his father’s business” while in the temple. Peter, when conversing with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, said, “It is good to be here” (Matthew 17:4). We all can relate with times in our lives when we just knew we were in the right place doing the right things. It is important for the youth to recognize when they have a friend that they can talk about doing and being good. These types of friends are so important in this stage of life. It makes living the gospel easier. When we have these types of friends, we increase the likelihood that we can be spiritually led. This reassurance comes from the Holy Ghost. It is good to illustrate both sides of this concept: staying out of Caiaphas’ palace and being in the right places with the right people.