‘And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.’Matthew 26:75
Jesus said to Peter in Matt 26:34 “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” In response, Peter answered in Matt 26:35 “…Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”.
Since Peter’s denial was already prophesied, could he have avoided it? The simple answer is NO. God’s secret “sovereign will” MUST, and without any doubt, certainly come to pass. But that should not make us adopt fatalistic views on this matter. We cannot make excuses for sins we fall into. We cannot deny human responsibility in sin and blame everything on God’s “sovereign will”.
Peter’s sin of denial cannot be vindicated with the reason that “he could not help it” since it was decreed that he would deny Jesus. Peter had been warned. He should have taken the words of Jesus seriously. He could have prayerfully sought help so that he may not fall into that sin. Who knows if God may relent and spare him of falling into it? But Peter did not heed Jesus’s warning. Instead, he placed himself in circumstances that “facilitated” the fulfillment of the prophesy. For example, upon his first denial, he should have remembered what Jesus said. He should & could have been even more alert or even moved away from where he was. But he did not. (Someone jokingly even said that he should have stayed away from places where there were roosters.)
The whole point to note in this episode is that the reason for Peter’s sin was really because he was afraid to be associated with Jesus. It was not simply because it was decreed. Most of the time, we don’t even know God’s secret will or decrees. Only God’s “revealed will” (in the form of what is written in the bible) is made known to us. Hence, it is His “revealed will” that we should obey. And as we take each step “obeying” and (often times) “disobeying” God’s “revealed will”, His “secret will” is made manifest.
As for Peter, this episode made him realise that he was not as “strong” as he presented himself to be. He has come to understand that every word that Jesus said will be fulfilled. Peter realised that Jesus was indeed God. And it was the design of God to work out all that Peter was experiencing for his good (Rom 8:28). This is the mysterious promise that “all things work for our good” which only believers can have. Let this cause us to bow down and worship our sovereign God.
(Afternote: the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is not easy to comprehend. I welcome questions on this subject. When you have appreciated it, it will bring you great comfort and assurance that you have a sovereign God who has everything under His control. Please refer to another sermon I had preached on this subject to understand more.)