When I Deny Jesus

by Lysa TerKeurst March 18, 2021
“Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” Mark 14:72 (NIV)
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I don’t doubt God is real and that God is good. But I often pray, “God, give me relief from my unbelief.”

When what He allows into my life does not feel good or seem good to me, this is what I pray. When we assume we know what a good God would do, and He doesn’t do it? That’s when things can start to get a bit complicated. It’s the place where doubts are formed and disappointment grows. The place where we can be tempted to distance ourselves from God with a heart of distrust.

I can’t help but think about Peter – a man who boldly declared to Jesus, “… Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you,” but then found himself doing the exact opposite (Mark 14:31a, NIV).

Let’s take a closer look at Peter’s story in Mark 14.

While we see Jesus remaining faithful in the midst of the pain and turmoil of a beloved friend’s betrayal (vv. 43-45) and the high priest’s interrogation, (vv. 53-65) we find Peter with faltering faith as he stood waiting in a courtyard. (vv. 66-72)

Afraid. Cold. Forgetful. Peter soon denied the One who loved him most.

Once. Twice. Three times. A rooster’s shrill cry ushered in the shocking realization that the very thing Peter swore he’d never do, he did.

And as much as we might want to shake our heads at Peter, I know I can’t. Because I get it. I know what it’s like to have intentions that are good but follow-through that falls to pieces. It’s easy to say the words – we’re all in for Jesus, and we’ll do anything He asks of us. But then we get rejected or hurt by someone or become afraid we’ll fail, and it becomes difficult to live out those words.

Fear, pain and insecurities can really do a number on our hearts.

They certainly did a number on Peter’s as he watched Jesus, the One he had seen perform miracles, allow Himself to be bound and arrested. Jesus was supposed to be the King who would deliver the Jewish people from the oppression of the Romans. How could this be happening? Peter didn’t realize this was the only way he or anyone else could experience Jesus reigning as King in eternity.

So, in a moment of doubt and disappointment, Peter chose to distance himself from Jesus. Distancing himself to the point of complete denial.

To deny something is to declare it is untrue. To deny Jesus is to say with our words, thoughts or actions that we don’t really believe the truth of who Jesus says He is or what He says He’ll do.

How heartbreaking. For us. For Jesus.

But before we give in to feelings of shame, let’s look at Luke 22:61-62. This passage gives us a slightly different glance at the moments immediately following Peter’s final denial: “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (NIV).

The look that passed between Jesus and Peter wasn’t one of condemnation. It wasn’t an “I told you so” moment. I believe Jesus’ eyes were filled with compassion for Peter, the same compassion He has for us today. A look that invites us to trust Him and draw near to Him once again.

Oh, friend. We need to ask ourselves where we’re denying Jesus’ truth in our lives. Where are we denying Jesus’ healing? Or denying Jesus’ forgiveness — for ourselves or others? Where are we denying Jesus’ redemption? Where are we denying Jesus’ hope?

Nothing is beyond the reach of our Jesus. In Him, everything is certain. No matter what we’ve done. No matter what the enemy or our life’s circumstances may say. Nothing is beyond the reach of Jesus. And I know today when we confess where we may be denying Him in our lives, He will look at us with the same compassion He did with Peter.

So when doubts form and disappointments drag us down, we don’t have to give in to the tempting voice of the enemy telling us to distrust God. We draw near to the Lord and pray, “I don’t have to understand this to trust You with this. I will not deny Your power just because I’m afraid and I don’t see evidence of You working now, God. I will kneel in prayer and ask You to help give me relief from any and all unbelief. And then I will rise up again and keep watching for evidence of all You are doing, big and small.”

Dear Lord, please forgive me for ever doubting You. Forgive me for denying You. I turn my eyes to You and proclaim today that You are the Christ. The One my soul longs for. The One who suffered so I wouldn’t have to. Give me relief from my unbelief. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


2 Timothy 2:13, “… if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (NIV)

Luke 1:37, “For no word from God will ever fail.” (NIV)


With God, there’s always more than we see being worked out behind the scenes. Disempower the lie that how you feel about your life is the full story with the help of Lysa TerKeurst’s newest devotional, Seeing Beautiful Again. Preorder your copy here today.


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Ask the Lord to reveal any areas in your life where you’ve been denying Jesus. Prayerfully ask Him to give you relief from your unbelief. Let us know in the comments how we can pray for you!

© 2021 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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