15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. 17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” 18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. 19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” 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 garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
This is an uncomfortable passage. Our hero, Peter, the passionate disciple, suddenly turns his back on Jesus. I puzzled over this change of heart, given Simon Peter is one of his followers who stood by him in the garden, and v15 tells us, even followed behind when Jesus was arrested. This exposed Peter to being arrested himself.
However when confronted he caves.
I can identify with Peter. Why isn’t Jesus fighting back? Jesus has so much power he could easily escape. Doubts creep in, and steal away hope. His spirit fails him and he abandons what he knows is true. Could this stem from Simon Peter’s reliance on himself? He has relied on his strength, and his conviction. Now, under challenge, he cannot withstand the scrutiny, the disappointment, giving way to doubts.
Relying on myself rather than relying on the creator of the universe who knows me really does seem crazy. But it is so often my fall back position – call it human nature or whatever. But my gracious God is waiting for me no matter when I fail him.
The contrast between this Simon Peter and the Peter of Acts couldn’t be more dramatic (see Acts 2-4 for example). The 2 things Peter received are what transform me – hope and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, thank you for transforming me just as you did in Peter’s life. When doubts and feelings of hopelessness creep in, you are there for me.
Written by Claire Moore