“... before a rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times.” (Mark 14:30)

But Peter said to him, “Even if everyone falls away, I won’t.” Jesus replied to him, “Truly I tell you that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not disown you!" The others said the same thing. (Mark 14:29-31)
As we find out later, Peter did disown Jesus as Jesus predicted:
Peter was below in the courtyard. One of the servant women of the high priest came in. Seeing Peter warm himself, she looked him over and said, “You were also with Jesus the Nazarene.” But he refuted it, saying, “I don’t know you, nor do I know what you are talking about.” And he went out the palace entryway – and a rooster crowed. The servant woman saw him and again began to say to others, “This is one of them!” Yet again he denied it. And after awhile those onlookers once again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them because you are also a Galilean.” He started to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are speaking of.” Suddenly a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered that Jesus had told him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he began to weep. (Mark 14:63-74)

Why did Peter disown Jesus?

Most would assume that this was a bad thing. That Peter's denying Jesus was shameful. Yes, indeed, it did illustrate that Peter did not want to be persecuted, even though he declared he was willing to prior.

Yes, the chief priests would almost certainly have tried Peter with Jesus had he admitted to being a disciple. This would have led to Peter being crucified alongside of Jesus.

Jesus did not want this. He clearly stated not only will everyone abandon him. He wanted everyone to abandon him. Jesus did not want to have others suffer because of him.

Just imagine: If you were a teacher and because of your actions and teachings, some of your students were brutally murdered. How would that feel?

Jesus' love for his students went beyond even that: Jesus loved them and did not want anyone to suffer because of his actions. He wanted all that pain and suffering to only be put upon him.

In other words, it is clear from this and other statements of Jesus that he did not want others to suffer on his behalf. This is one reason why Jesus accepted his persecution: So that the chief priests and the Romans did not lash out and persecute his entire following of students and disciples.

Was this worse than that Judas did?

Peter's feelings of guilt have some similarity with how Judas felt: Judas was grief-stricken when he found out that he had contributed to Jesus' persecution by arranging for his arrest with the high priests. But as we discussed earlier, the scriptures indicate that not only did Jesus instruct Judas to have him arrested - Jesus also expected the arrest and awaited his arrest at the Mount Olives.

But as we discussed with the previous statement of Jesus he also predicted that all of his close disciples - in fact all that were in Jerusalem - would fall away from Jesus as he was being tried and persecuted.

That is a pretty intense situation. No one - none of his students and even family members - did anything to prevent Jesus from being persecuted. Practically no one except for Pilate - came to Jesus' defense as he faced the chief priests and then the Roman governor.

Did Jesus suffer instead of his followers?

We must therefore ask: With so many followers - hundreds of disciples (at least 70 as stated in Luke 9:1) - and others that did not become disciples but who worshipped and admired Jesus - why did everyone abandon Jesus?

Because this is what Jesus wanted. Jesus didn't want anyone else to suffer. He wanted to take on all of the disdain and persecution so that his followers would not be harmed.

Think about it: If a government or other organization wants to get rid of a movement, the first thing they want to do is remove the leader. If they can remove the leader, most times that will suffice. But if they cannot get rid of the leader they will go after the whole group. If the group is protecting the leader, then everyone is at risk.

This insight explains the many curious things that took place between Jesus and his followers before and during his arrest. Not only the situation with telling Judas:
“What you shall do, do quickly.” (John 13:27)
Jesus also waited for his arrest at Mount Olives. He knew they were coming but he did not run off. Jesus also chastised Peter when he cut off the ear of one of the guards who came to arrest Jesus. He did not want his disciples to defend him or prevent him from being arrested.

This all says one thing clearly: That Jesus accepted his arrest and persecution. He did not want this to come upon his followers. So he took it upon himself.

This objective of Jesus - to suffer in place of others - was a very practical thing at the time. Yes, Jesus took on the persecution as a sacrifice - so that his followers would not be persecuted.

But it has since been disambiguated by later followers who misunderstood the situation.

Did Jesus' crucifixion relieve the consequences of sins?

Later followers and their institutions have misconstrued that Jesus' sacrifice was about removing sins. They began to claim that Jesus' sacrifice was meant to remove the sinning of others. They have claimed that as long as someone "accepts" that Jesus died for their sins, then their sins are now forgiven.

While certainly Jesus' teachings, and his love for others, and his love for God do have the ability to remove our sins - because they can purify our hearts - using Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as some sort of cleansing ritual is simply selfishness.

While Jesus was giving himself in place of his followers to die so that they would not be persecuted, instead of understanding the undying love that Jesus had for others, they have instead used his persecution as some sort of mat - to wipe their sins off on.

To do this is to completely abandon every principle that Jesus taught. Jesus taught his followers to love God and to love others. He taught them to pray to God for forgiveness for their offenses:
"Please forgive our offenses, as we forgive those who offend us." (Matthew 6:9 - part of the Lord's Prayer)
He also taught them that if they continue to sin, they will continue to suffer:
“See, your body is now well. Sin no more so nothing worse happens to you.” (John 5:14)
Nowhere in Jesus' teachings does he ever say that his coming crucifixion will cleanse people of their sins. Nowhere does he say that all his followers have to do is accept that he died for their sins and their sins are forgiven.

Such a teaching completely contradicts Jesus' teachings. It says basically that people can do what they want. They can hurt others. They can take advantage of others. They can do any sort of sinful thing (a sin is something that hurts others) and they can just accept that Jesus died for their sins and it will all be washed away.

That is completely wrong. And it contradicts Jesus' teachings completely.

What Jesus taught is having a change of heart:
"I haven’t come to call the devoted: But rather, sinners to a change of heart.” (Luke 5:32)