Let’s close out this chapter.
54 Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. 55 After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. 56 And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
You know, Peter meant what he said to Jesus. He was prepared to follow Jesus to death. On his terms anyway. In the Garden, he was the first to strike with the sword. He was outnumbered and the disciples only had two swords against an armed crowd with soldiers. But Peter was willing to fight to the death for Jesus.
And then Jesus gave himself up and healed the man he had hurt. Jesus told him to stop fighting, so he did. And then as the guards seized the Lord, his courage failed and he ran with the rest of the disciples.
But once the adrenaline left his system and he calmed down a bit and made sure that the crowd wasn’t following him, Peter came back. Maybe he felt ashamed for his earlier flight. But his love of Jesus compelled him not to just abandon Him now when He would need a friend the most.
John did the same, by the way. John, also had political connections with the high priest. So when the two of them follow Jesus to the high priest’s house, John is admitted as a guest. His family is known there and John has nothing to fear despite his association with Jesus.
Peter has none of that. But he still follows anyway. When he reaches the door, he sees John go through, but the girl holding the door, refuses to let him in. When John notices that Peter is not behind him, he returns and asks the girl to let him through.
So Peter found himself sitting with some of the household staff and likely some of the ruffians that had gone out to arrest Jesus. He’s in enemy territory alone and without protection.
Peter’s fault wasn’t being there. Peter’s fault was not recognizing that he wasn’t alone and he was being protected.
When the girl holding the door saw Peter in the light of the fire, she recognized him. She had been out to see Jesus of Nazareth at some point and had seen the burly fisherman standing next to him. She confronts him about this. You’re one of them, she says. Some of the soldiers glance up at him suspiciously. Peter tells her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. He’s never seen the Nazarene before today.
Perhaps he stands up and leaves that fire and finds another group. He runs into someone else who had been out to see Jesus who recognizes Peter. The man wonders how this man is here, since he’s one of the followers of Jesus. Peter tells him that he’s never met the Nazarene before.
But there is someone there who has travelled north and recognizes the accent and dialect that Peter uses. It gives Peter away as a Galilean. The man concludes that Peter must be a follower of Jesus or know Him since they’re from the same area. Peter begins to swear all manner of curses upon himself if he is bearing false witness that he does not know Jesus of Nazareth.
And then the rooster crowed in the distance. And it all came back to Peter. He looks up at Jesus. Jesus is looking at him. There is no disappointment from Jesus. No condemnation. No anger. Jesus had known what was going to happen. And Jesus had told him already that when he came back, he should strengthen the others.
When Peter looks at Jesus, there is compassion. There is love. There is forgiveness.
And he can’t take it. He is broken to his very soul. He runs from the house sobbing uncontrollably out into the cold streets of Jerusalem to find a place to be wretched and miserable alone.
It’s a very human response. We all do it sometimes.
63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him, 64 and they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, “Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?” 65 And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming.
I’ve gone over in detail the Passion before, but this was not a legal trial. It was held at night. The accused could call no witnesses for his defense. The accused was beaten and humiliated. This was all a show trial. An exercise that they technically had to have, but they were going to do it in such a way as to make a mockery of the law.
His great crime was getting down into the dirt with the suffering and doing what He could to help them. Okay, His real crime in front of the priests was in exposing them for the callous corrupt power-hungry lot they had become.
66 When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, 67 “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; 68 and if I ask a question, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”
Officially, though, they would charge and convict Him of blasphemy. Though they ask if He is the Christ, they have made their minds up already. The Christ wouldn’t make them uncomfortable or challenge them. He would be one of them. He’d agree with all of their traditions and doctrine because they were godly men who had the true interpretation of scripture.
Beware of anyone who tells you with certainty that he speaks for God. I think there is far too much trust within Christendom. Far too much complacency when it comes to accepting doctrines from pastors. And I’m not just talking about the obvious charlatans who are trying to bilk old folks out of their Social Security checks. I’m talking about the blind faith that we often have in our pastors and in ourselves.
Enough of my issues, I suppose.
Jesus tells them as much. The fact that He’s here, under arrest, facing a death sentence sort of cuts off any chance for a reasonable debate about the prophetic evidence or merits of His Messianic claims.
They ask Him if He is the Son of God, and He says, “Yes, I am.”
There is no debate for that either. They are certain in their beliefs. And their beliefs call for death. But there is still the matter of the people. They believe Jesus to be a holy man. And if the priests killed Him for blasphemy, the people might turn against the priests. So they need the Romans to be the ones to do the deed. If the people get upset, the priests can be the reasonable ones and step in and tell everyone to be calm before more bloodshed occurs.
Unfortunately, Rome doesn’t kill people for saying they’re the Son of God. Rome was pretty practical about religion in the beginning. They didn’t really care what God conquered provinces worshipped as long as it was: approved by the State, they kept paying taxes, and they didn’t try to rebel. No, the Romans needed an actual reason to put Jesus to death. So the priests sent him off next to the governor with slightly modified lies.
23 Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”