36 ¶ Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. 37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. 38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Peter is sincere, of that there is no question. But, our heartfelt sincerity often turns to betrayal and a proof of our weak faith when times are difficult. Peter promises that he would lay down his life for Christ and he will have that opportunity later but Christ knows Peter will deny Him now. Job swore that he would trust God even to death but he insisted he would proclaim his own righteousness and the injustice of his circumstances to the bitter end.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Saul had been lifted up from being a shy but obedient man to being king of Israel but he let God down. See 1Samuel 9 and onward.
David was the ruler of Israel whom God chose as he was looking for, “a man after his own heart,”(1Samuel 13:14) and while David never turned away from God to worship other gods he did let God down tremendously with his not doing his duty and his resulting sin with Bathsheba. See 2Samuel 11and 12.
God’s person, His man or woman, can let Him down in a big way. Peter here is making a promise that Jesus knows he will not keep at this time as he will deny he even knows Christ although God will give him strength when he will later be called to martyrdom.
Speaking to Peter (notice the thou for singular you as opposed to you for a group) Jesus will say;
John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Then, later, Peter will say;
2Peter 1:12 ¶ Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.Notice the context here and in what happens later. To deny Christ in this context is to deny you know Him. It is under pressure in a specific context, social or otherwise, that the weak Christian does not want to be recognized as a follower of Christ. It is in trying blend in with the crowd for some measure of acceptance and keeping your head down or as they say in the military, keeping a low profile, to keep from being noticed as a Christian. Perhaps you will adopt the same vulgar speech as your coworkers, laugh at the same filthy jokes, drink the same drink, adopt the same amusements and entertainment to be accepted and you just don’t want anyone to recognize you as you warm your hands over the Devil’s fire like Peter. But, more on that later.