Mark 14: 66 – 72 Peter disowns Jesus

Mark 14: 66 – 72 Peter disowns Jesus

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

‘You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,’ she said.

But he denied it. ‘I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,’ he said, and went out into the entrance.

When the servant-girl saw him there, she said again to those standing round them, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’

Immediately the cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.

*       *       *

Peter was not a coward.

He was in the high priest’s courtyard, within metres of where Jesus was being tried for his life. He could easily have been arrested himself.

People recognised him. He was accused of being a follower of Jesus. What would I have done, I wonder? Slipped away quietly, telling myself there was nothing I could do? That wasn’t what Peter did. He wanted to be close to his Lord, ready for service if Jesus should command it. He did something pragmatic; he denied that he knew Jesus, and he found a discreet place to wait in the entrance. He moved away from the fire around which people were gathering.

But even in the shadows of the entrance, people recognised him. The servant-girl pointed him out, saying, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ ” Did Peter run? No, he didn’t. Very bravely, he stayed put, waiting, hoping. Perhaps Jesus would be released? Peter remembered saying he would die with Jesus; well, perhaps that’s how it would end, but as long as Peter had breath he would take any opportunity to free Jesus. Once more Peter took the course suggested by worldly wisdom; he denied knowing Jesus.

Then Peter was denounced a third time. This time he was identified as a Galilean. What would a Galilean be doing in the high priest’s courtyard in the middle of the night? Surely he must be a follower of Jesus!

Peter realised the danger. He denied knowing Jesus in the strongest possible terms. “He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’ ”

See where Peter has finished up by relying on the wisdom of this world! Cursing and swearing and denying Jesus!

Immediately the cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.

Jesus had prophesied, saying that Peter would deny him. Thanks to this forewarning, Peter realised what he was doing and immediately repented. He broke down and wept. What an awful mess. Peter couldn’t bear what he’d just done, and Jesus, the only person who could remove his burden of guilt, was in the hands of the authorities. Dreadful!

I wonder whether this is a story that Peter told often to the early church? It is an example of the mercy of God – because, of course, Peter’s story doesn’t end with the horror of denying Jesus, it continues through forgiveness and devoted service and on to martyrdom (see John chapter 21 for the story of Peter’s forgiveness and commission for service).

The thought I take away from today’s passage is this: I must pray, and pray, and pray, for the direction of the Holy Spirit. It’s far too tempting to follow human wisdom, but what really matters is God’s will.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Your plan is perfect and your will is sovereign. Thank you for Jesus, who showed us how to live according to your will. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who gives us guidance day by day in our lives. Please help me to understand the limits of human wisdom, and live my life more closely in accordance with your will.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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