Was Peter’s denial simply a prediction based on knowing Peter’s character very well?
In this incident, Peter’s courage and cowardice had to balance, this is not just saying Peter would be cowardly, he had to follow right into the high priest’s court, and not run off after the first confrontation, or the second, so this makes it unlikely that this is a estimate based on what is probable. It is improbable that such strong emotions and desires as Peter must have been feeling would maintain such a precarious balance.
And this is not to mention all the other people involved, how could Jesus know he would be challenged, three times? This would seem to be unlikely as a mere prediction. How could Jesus know someone would help him get past the porter at the gate? They weren’t going to let him in, at first, the doorkeeper probably had some strict orders for this meeting. And why didn’t they just arrest him, like they had tried to in the garden? Yet instead, they tried to get him to admit he had been with Jesus, even though people around the fire, in various ways, recognized him:
JN 18:26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?”
And then the rooster crowed twice, not just once at the end. How could Jesus have guessed that Peter would not remember the first time the rooster crowed, and then that he would remember the second time? So this cannot be simply a prediction based on Peter’s character. And if Peter did forget the second time, then how would Jesus know that no one would challenge him again, and that Peter would not deny him yet a fourth time?
And Jesus said “truly” (Mt. 26:34), in John 13:38, it’s “truly, truly”, which was a way of saying “this is sure and certain.” So this could not have failed, yet if it was an estimate, then what would that tell the disciples, and us, in other places where we read “truly, truly”? Is this another estimate, again? Would this also not make Jesus a false prophet, if he predicted unconditionally like this, and failed?
John 21:18-19 “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.
Should this be “probably glorify God”? No, Jesus says “truly, truly” again here, so this must indicate what would really happen to Peter, and this is long in the future of Peter’s life, with many choices and changes between now and this event. Note the parallel, too, to Jesus predicting his denial: “This will happen with you,” and it did, “this will happen with you,” and it will.
And this is just after Peter had said “You know all things,” and Jesus seems to be confirming that, though in the previous instance in John 16:30, Jesus may have only confirmed “You believe I came from God,” and though then he may have had access to all knowledge through the Father, now there appears to be a clear claim to God’s omniscience.
2 Peter 1:13-14 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
Not “I expect”! I know…