Good Morning!If you are here on Big Pine, don’t forget the Choir Cantata – Easter Concert – tonight at 7:30 PM.
John 18:15-18, 25-27
15Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. 17The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26One of the slaves 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?” 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
The story of Peter’s betrayal, broken up and mixed in with the story of Jesus’ trial before the religious leaders. It is an important story – all 4 gospel writers choose to include it. It shows us that we are all, even the great apostle Peter, sinful and imperfect human beings. Peter had, that very evening, sworn that he would follow Jesus, even to death. He had drawn his sword and attempted to defend Jesus. But he was confused when Jesus said, no, that was not how it would be. What was happening? What did Jesus expect of him? The others had run away. Simon Peter and another disciple follow. The “other disciple” is not mentioned in the synoptic gospels, and we do not know who he was, except that the author here says that he was known to the High Priest. Could it have been Niccodemus? Obviously, he was someone with enough social standing that he was not bothered by the High Priest’s guards. This is a detail I had not noticed before, that is peculiar to John’s telling of the story. That disciple here went in , but Peter stayed at the gate, and then that disciple went back out to the gate, spoke to the woman who was guarding the gate, and brought Peter into the courtyard. The woman, making a natural assumption, asked Peter if he was also one of his disciples. But Peter was frightened and he denied it, saying “I am not!”
Peter tried to make himself unobtrusive there in the courtyard, hanging about in the shadows amidst all the coming and going. But a group of servants and guards had made a charcoal fire in the courtyard, and were standing around the fire warming themselves and talking. Peter, thinking perhaps he could learn something about what was happening, stood with them, putting his hands out to warm them at the fire. Peter was frightened, for his life. Things were not going well – if they put Jesus to death, would they not also go after his disciples?
The story cuts to the questioning of Jesus before Caiaphas – we will come back to that.
At verse 25, Peter, still warming himself at the fire, is asked again, now by those around the fire, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” Peter, dressed in the style of Galilee, and speaking with a Galilean dialect, would not have been hard to spot by those native to Jerusalem. But Peter denied it again, saying, “I am not!” And then one of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter denied it again, vehemently! And at that moment the cock crowed. John does not tell us that Peter wept – or even that he remembered what Jesus had said, but he must have. And he must have felt terribly disappointed in himself. How could he deny Jesus? He had not intended to do that! The fear had taken over; where was his courage? Who was he?