The disciples, strong men every one, needed no more swords.
The sight of Jesus bound by the guards and offering no resistance was too much for them. They scattered out of the Garden and down the mountain. Most of them didn’t stop until they found a safe place to hide. Most but not all. Dr. Luke tells us that Peter followed at a safe distance. John reports in his own gospel that he did as well.
From a Distance
Out of sight from the guards and priests, Peter watched as the soldiers took Jesus to the home of the High Priest. Outside the house, a small fire did its best to illumine and warm a public gathering place, a courtyard for those who wished to do business with the High Priest. Peter did his best to blend in as one of those waiting for a dawn meeting. With walls separating him from the events in the house, Peter could hear but not see Jesus before the elders. Hearing it was more than enough.
A Peace Disturbed
Just moments before, the peace of this quiet night in the courtyard outside the home of the High Priest had been greatly disturbed when the temple guards dragged Jesus, bound and gagged, through their company and into the house. As order slowly returned to the group, there was only one topic of conversation—Jesus. They had all seen and heard Him and opinions were as numerous as the lips that spilled them into the moist night air. A servant girl noticed Peter and moved closer to him to inspect who this interloper might be. As the light from the fire danced across his terrified face, she recognized him.
“This man was also with Him.”
Peter tried to draw a breath but there was no air to be had. Finally, he choked out a response.
“Woman, I do not know Him.”
He moved away into the shadows and the attention of the group went elsewhere. The muffled sounds of trial and torture claimed the attention of the crowd. Another in the crowd recognized Peter.
“You also are of them.”
Peter denied knowing Jesus. An hour later it happened again. A voice from the crowd lifted about the sounds coming from inside the house.
“Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter was forced to defend himself. He cursed and said:
“Man, I do not know what you are saying!”
At that moment, the Eastern sky began to glow with the promise of a new day. A rooster awakened to his duty announcing the morning. To all it was a welcomed and common sound, to all except one. Peter remembered the Lord’s prophecy. At the same moment, the guards emerged from the house manhandling Jesus through the courtyard. They stopped long enough for Jesus to look into the face of Peter.
The strong fisherman, master of the sea, leader of men, follower of Jesus, broke from the group, running away from the guards and Jesus. If anyone could have seen Peter’s face, they would have seen his tears.
A prisoner before this bar of justice had no rights. The guards began to strike Jesus, demanding that He prophecy by naming them. As Peter retreated farther from the scene, the sound of the blows and the taunts faded but the bitterness of his tears kept growing.
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.
Lord Jesus, Your night of suffering is celebrated every year and well it should be. There in the dusty streets of Jerusalem You, the innocent One, submitted to the authorities of men, authorities not of God but born in hearts and methods of sinful men. Cruel chains bound You. Heartless soldiers stuck Your face. Witnesses lied against You. The leaders of the People of God bent the laws of God to their own purposes to Your harm. Why? Because You love people. You, the Second Adam, were undoing the failure of the First Adam. No one but You could do this and You did. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.
In the Garden Boldly
Words and Music: P. P. Bliss
1. In the garden, boldly, Peter would have fought;
Now he answers coldly, Nay, I know Him not.
I would stand forever near my Savior’s side,
Lest to glory yonder I should be denied.
2. Tho’ life’s stony pathway be with dangers fraught,
Let my falterings never say, I know Him not.
3 Though long years of sorrow be my earthly lot,
Let my murmurings never Say, I know Him not.
4 In the dark temptation, vows and prayers forgot,
Let my yielding never way, I know Him not.
5 So, in toil or pleasure, deed or word or thought,
Let me never, never, say, I know Him not.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved