Mar. 10, 2012
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. The Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
“Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
We say these words also. Sometimes, we may really not know what the other person is talking about. In other instances, we’re joking and trying to be sly. Other times, like Peter, we’re actually denying something when we know what the person is talking about. Denying something once is bad enough. But three times? Peter had decided to stick with his story. No matter what.
After Jesus’ arrest, he is taken to the High Priest Caiaphas’ house for trial. Only the Sanhedrin would have been present at the trial. The Sanhedrin or the Jewish ruling council was comprised of 71 elders, considered to be amongst the wisest and most pious Jewish men of the time.
In the middle of the night, the Sanhedrin were hastily called to Caiaphas’ palatial home and met in the grand hall. Normally, the council met during the day in the Temple courts. They did not meet during religious feasts. But on that night, the Sanhedrin is gathered in the high priests palace after hours and during Passover. This indicates their desire to have an urgent trial and with great secrecy.
Peter’s denial didn’t happen inside the house. It happened outside in the courtyard, where folks were gathered. While the rest of the disciples had scattered in fear, Peter clung to the night’s dark shadows. He wants to know what is going to happen to Jesus. But he doesn’t want anyone to recognize him.
There’s an interesting detail in Luke’s version of this story not present in the other gospels. Jesus sees Peter when he makes the third denial. For an instant, Jesus looked from inside the hall, through a window, and sees Peter. Their eyes meet. Peter realizes the gravity of what he has done. All he can do is break down and weep.
Peter’s denial is included in all four gospel accounts. This story is so important they all included it. Not to embarrass Peter but because he probably regularly shared this story himself. Maybe Peter used this context when he shared this story: “You’ve probably denied Jesus. I denied him myself in a way of which I’m deeply ashamed. But let me tell you. I betrayed Jesus yet he loved me anyways. He took me back and gave me grace. If you’ve denied him, it’s OK. He’ll take you back also.”
Who amongst us can reply, “Man, I do know what you’re talking about.”
Let us pray: O how he loves you and me! O how he loves you and me! He gave his life. What more could he give? O how he loves you. O how he loves me. O how he loves you and me! Amen.