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March 29, 2021
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
The gospel of John presents us with two scenes that have been sandwiched together in order to show us what was happening simultaneously to Peter on the one hand and Jesus on the other. The scene involving Peter provides the bookends around the scene involving Jesus. Both focus on the theme of questioning.
After Jesus’ arrest, Peter follows Jesus at a distance with another disciple, presumably John. John speaks with the servant girl watching the door and arranges for Peter to gain entry to the courtyard of the high priest. The woman who admits Peter does not represent a threat. She has no power or position. Peter should have nothing to fear from her. Yet when she surmises that Peter must be one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter denies it and replies, “I am not.” He proceeds to warm himself beside a charcoal fire alongside some of the servants and officers who were gathered there. Peter is questioned two more times, and both times he denies Jesus again. And at once, just as Jesus said would happen, a rooster crows.
Meanwhile, Jesus is questioned inside by a person of power and position who is a threat. The high priest interrogates Jesus about his followers and his teaching, looking for an occasion to do Jesus harm. Despite the risk, Jesus speaks openly. He declares that he has said nothing in secret, and encourages his accusers to ask anyone about his teaching. But Jesus’ response only strengthens the resolve of his opponents.
Both scenes provide us with a window into the heart of humanity and the heart of God. Both Peter and Jesus are under pressure. Peter crumbles whereas Jesus stands firm. Peter sacrifices his integrity and denies Jesus for fear of his life, but eventually escapes, whereas Jesus maintains his integrity and upholds the truth at the cost of his life, and eventually dies. Right there, we catch a glimpse of the gospel itself. Jesus is faithful despite our faithlessness, and he dies so that we might live.
In what ways have you buckled under pressure like Peter and stand in need of Jesus’ forgiving grace?