Peter wanted to run away, but the sounds of torture from the Chief Priests’ court but his heart would not let him.
Every blow from the open palm of a guard brought shouts of approval from the blood thirsty crowd. Every taunt from bold individuals in the mob brought laughter and derision. Peter listened for some sort of sound from the voice he knew so well, the voice that had said, “Follow me.” Would he indeed follow Jesus, even in this? Of all the chosen men, only he was close enough to hear the terrible sounds coming from inside.
The fire did little to warm Peter in this cold pre-dawn drama. He was careful not to stand close enough for his face to be clearly seen. Suddenly, a brand in the fire fell creating a shower of sparks, illuminating Peter’s face. He quickly jumped back, out of the light, but not before a servant girl belonging to one of the priests caught a good look at his face. Her voice brought the action out of the inner chamber into the servant’s court.
“You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
First, Peter panicked and then, gathering his thoughts, he shifted farther into the shadows and denied what the girl had said. This brought more unwanted attention to him. He moved away from the fire completely; better the cold than to be recognized. In his mind, he could see the servants calling inside to their masters, “Here he is! Here is one of his men!” Peter could see himself bound and beaten too. “Follow me.”
Just then a loud noise came from the trial and all the attention shifted back to the other chamber. Peter took a deep breath, the first, it seemed, in quite a while. He climbed to an elevated porch, seeking anonymity. It was not to be. A rooster crowed, signally the coming of the day. Peter was so startled by the sound he froze in the light of a nearby torch. The same servant girl was there and called him out again. Again he denied her charge.
Things settled down for a while. People had more interesting things to think about than this one man hiding in the fleeting shadows. The sun, unhindered by the clouds that would later that day hide its face, began softly lighting the eastern sky. There was no place to hide. This time, several onlookers recognized Peter. They put the accent together with the face and remembered that Jesus and His men were from Galilee.
“Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.”
Trapped, there was only one course of action for Peter to prove he was not a follower of Jesus, the man known for eloquent speech and powerful blessings; he began to curse. Language he had seldom used at sea came flooding out of his mouth. With obscene vows he swore that he did not know this man, Jesus.
At that moment a second rooster called to the rising sun. The raucous sound of the bird and the sounds of torture a few feet away were all drowned in Peter’s hearing by the memory of the sad words of Jesus:
“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”
There was nothing Peter could do now. He too, abandoned Jesus to the authorities. He ran from the servant’s court hiding tears that he could not control.
Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.
Lord Jesus, the shame of Peter’s denial has touched believers since that terrible night in the servant’s court. Why? Because He was so bold! He declared that You were Messiah. He walked on water! He saw Your glory on the mountain of transfiguration. If he could fail You so miserably, what hope is there for us? Yet there is hope for us. You are that hope. Your Spirit now dwells within us to give us strength. We know about the resurrection! You will make us strong in the time of trial. Thank You, Lord! Amen.
Keep Me True
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
There’s a race that I must run.
There are victories to be won.
Every hour, by Thy power,
Keep me true.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved