After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to the temple mount and his first three trials were in front of Jewish leaders. He was taken first to Annas. the former high priest and the real power behind the Jewish rulers. Annas passed the buck and sent Jesus to his son in law, Caiaphas. Something very critical happened on that short walk from Annas’ residence to Caiaphas’ complex.
It was the wee hours of the night. Just a few hours prior, during Passover, Peter claimed he would follow Jesus to death. Jesus predicted Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed. After Passover, when Jesus went to pray at Gethsemane it was Peter, along with James and John, who slept. Jesus warned Peter to pray against temptation. When Judas showed up with a band of armed soldiers, it was Peter who impulsively drew a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Jesus quickly healed the ear, calming escalating chaos. Jesus was arrested and all the disciples fled.
John fled to the temple complex. Interestingly, all four gospels state,
Peter followed at a distance.
Between the residences of Annas and Caiaphas there was a stone courtyard with a few people huddled around a small fire pit. Peter crept next to the fire to observe from afar what was happening to Jesus. It was then that a servant girl announced he looked like a Galilean and others twice claimed they had seen him with Jesus. To all three Peter denied Jesus: I don’t know what you’re talking about; I don’t know the man!; and swearing with an oath, I don’t know the man! Immediately the cock crowed.
At this very moment temple guards were escorting Jesus from the home of Annas. As the cock crowed, Luke says,
Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter.
These are the moments of Peter’s full denial.
It is easy to track the mindset of Peter. From arrogant to boastful at Passover, to sleep deprived and losing his fiery temper in the garden, and finally fleeing for his life at Jesus’ arrest. The night’s events had blindsided him and his fear had paralyzed him. While swearing, Peter must have gazed across the courtyard and his eyes met and locked with Jesus’. In the Greek, the word looked means, looking all the way through someone or looking with knowledge of the person. Peter remembered exactly what Jesus had said. He left the courtyard and wept bitterly. It was the look that broke him.
For those who love Christ, it hurts when we realize we have denied him. And we all have. We don’t easily forget the sting when we realize we have been silent when we should have spoken up or we have been offended when we should have been apologetic.
What can we do when we realize we are in denial and have denied our Lord?
Like Peter, we can weep. Like Peter, we can come back. We can utter the words, I am sorry. Most of all, we can be like Peter and admit and repent and turn around. We can do a 180.
Question: Are you hiding from Jesus after denying him?
Prayer: Father God,you bring to light all things hidden. Bring me out of hiding. Teach me to trust you and to know that repentance is a good thing. Help me to say I am sorry much more easily and often. Most of all, help me to heed your words and pray against my own temptations and for quick turn-arounds. Amen.
The Story of Peter's denial of Christ: Matt 26: 58, 69-75; Mark 14: 54, 66-72; Luke 22: 54-62; John 18: 15-18, 25-27