Peter Denies Jesus
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.
55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Observations and Reflections
One of the first questions when reading through the trial of Jesus is; where did it actually take place? The passage in Luke makes it difficult to know since it says that Jesus was taken into the high priest’s house. Yet, a few hours later Jesus appears to be in the courtyard with Peter (assuming he had to be present for Peter to see Jesus turn and look at him. However, there is a simple way to resolve this issue which is to read the other gospel accounts while also understanding that 1st century homes had courtyards that were actually part of the house itself. This is more easily seen in the other gospel accounts.
53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. (Mark 14:53-54)
57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. (Matthew 26:57-58)
Both Matthew and Mark show that the courtyard are “inside” of the house. At least in the sense that it’s part of the complex. This would make sense because a typical courtyard in any time period is encompassed by a house or building. However, in the first century they were more integral to life style of the residents. A courtyard could be used for business or for livestock. It could also be used by the ruling class for performing trials, such as the secret one Jesus was drug to.
However, the location of the trial is not a key importance for this passage. What is important is that even though Jesus knew Peter would deny him, Peter was forgiven and loved despite knowing his swaying courage. This is what we have come to expect from Jesus in the gospel narrative. Jesus uses us, as imperfect as we are, just as he did with Peter. He is not deterred by our shortcomings.
This passage speaks a powerful message on what it means to truly follow after Jesus Christ no matter the cost. For most Christians, this is a familiar passage and perhaps it has become all too familiar. Peter has the opportune moment to speak boldly to a crowd that is filled with the utmost hate and resentment towards Jesus and the message of the Gospel. He allowed for His fear to take over and was crippled by what might happen if he spoke out during this time.
This was a period in which the followers of Christ were gripped with fear. Their leader, companion and source of hope was about to be taken away from them and I think that if any of us were in Peter’s situation we may have responded the same or fled all together.
The encouraging part of this passage is that despite Peter’s weakness, this was not the end for Him. Jesus knew and predicted exactly what was going to happen and He did not do it out of spite or anger towards Peter. He did it to show that He knows our weaknesses and knows that we will have moments in which we fall into sin and despite all that, His hand of forgiveness and grace is all the more real.
Another encouraging part of this passage is that we see how Peter was able to recognize His weakness and felt the guilt of it. His tears are a good thing because it shows that his heart was still attached to following after Jesus Christ and there is still room for Him to do so.
There are going to be many times in the Christian walk when we are faced with giving into our weakness or being bold in our faith. If we are true believers of Jesus Christ then we know that we have an assurance that He will carry us through those scary and intimidating times and will not leave us on our own. We can also rest assured that if we do fall into sin, with a willing and repentant heart, God’s hand of forgiveness and grace is all the more ready to reach out and bring us back to Him.