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The Danger of Self-Dependence

In Luke 22:31-24 and 54-62, Jesus first predicts that Peter will deny him three times. Relying on himself, Peter insisted he would not. But in the end, Peter’s self-dependence was his undoing, and Jesus’ prediction came true.


“Simon, Simon, behold” (v31)

  • When Jesus uses Peter’s original name, he seems to be trying to get his attention.
  • Using a name twice indicates seriousness.
  • Behold means “listen up.”

“Satan demanded” (v31)

  • What right or claim does Satan have that he can make a demand of God?
  • None — he operates within the limitations God allows.
  • Demand (exaiteō) is an intensified for of ask (aiteō).
  • The word urged might better communicate the intent here.

“you” (v31)

  • You (hymas) is plural.
  • Jesus said that Satan asked to sift all of the disciples.
  • It is likely that this is the case for all believers as well.

“sift you like wheat” (v31)

  • When sifted, wheat was battered and tossed in the air, and the chaff blew away.
  • Satan desired to afflict the disciples, hoping to prove them imfaithful.
  • It is exactly what he attempted with Job.


“but I have prayed that your faith not fail” (v32)

  • The word but suggests a sharp contrast — that Jesus’ prayers are the solution to Satan’s intent.
  • Peter’s perseverance is dependent on Jesus.
  • Jesus prays for us, too.
  • He prayed for us on the night he was betrayed.
  • He prays for us today.
  • According to Hebrews 7:25, the fullness of his saving (“saving to the uttermost) is based on his continuing prayer.
  • For us, like Peter, perseverance in trials depends on God, not on ourselves.
  • By “fail,” Jesus meant completely fall away.
  • Peter did not completely fall away, but he had to learn to rely on Jesus.


“I am ready” (v33)

  • Problem #1: Peter counted on himself.
  • Problem #2: Peter believed he had arrived.
  • Peter rejected the possibility of his own failure and therefore also rejected the need for dependence on Jesus.


“you [will] deny me” (v34)

  • Jesus told Peter what Peter was capable of (in fact, what he would do).

“I will not deny you” (Matthew 26:35)

  • Peter rejected Jesus’ warning.
  • His pride seemed to prevent him from admitting his vulnerability.

Temporary Failure

“Peter was following at a distance” (v54)

  • It was good that Peter was following.
  • But he had already begun to compromise by following at a distance.

“Peter sat down among them” (v55)

  • Peter remained in the area of his Lord.
  • But he wasn’t near enough.
  • Peter’s self-dependence had begun to affect his faithfulness.

“he denied” (v57)

  • Peter’s failure culminated in three denials.
  • Denied (arneomai) is a strong word that can mean to completely disavow or abandon.
  • Peter had fallen as far as he possibly could have.


“the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (v61)

  • Even when we fail, Jesus remains Lord.
  • Even when we fail, Jesus turns toward us.

“Peter . . . wept bitterly” (v61)

  • Peter recognized the failure of his self-dependence and it affected him deeply.
  • Jesus would continue Peter’s restoration in John 21.