A servant girl is introduced to Peter outside the court of the high priest by another of Jesus’ disciples. This disciple is known to the high priest, Annas. When the servant girl casually states, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” Peter takes advantage of the manner in which this statement is worded, and denies that he is one of Jesus’ disciples, responding, “I am not.” (John 18:17, ESV) In other words, Peter agrees that he is not one of the followers of the man, Jesus. Peter does this even though he has just been introduced to the girl by one of Jesus’ disciples. His denial is rather akin to the professor saying to Dorothy and her friends, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I am the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.” Except Peter is saying, “No I am not.”
Warming himself by the fire, Simon Peter is noticed by the servants of the high priest — and perhaps by the band of soldiers who arrested Jesus in the garden and who are gathered outside the court where Annas has just questioned the Lord. Simon Peter is probably startled when one of the crowd rhetorically asks, “You also are not one of His disciples, are you?” (John 18:25) Peter responds exactly as he did to the servant girl, denying that he is a follower of Jesus. Yet, he remains close at hand, waiting for his Lord to emerge from the interrogation with the high priest, Annas.
The soldier whose ear Peter cut off in the garden of Gethsemane happens to have a relative also standing near the fire. This relative notices Peter, and asks, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” (John 18:26) This time, Peter responds slightly more emphatically, denying that he was even with Jesus in the garden. Perhaps, at this point, his fear is becoming frustration that he keeps being picked out of the crowd standing nearby.
Whatever the case, immediately after this final denial — and exactly as Jesus has said — a rooster crows. Jesus turns to look at Peter. (Luke 22:61) Perhaps Peter recalls, at this juncture, the Lord’s Word, “Whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33) Obviously, Jesus is not planning to deny Peter before His Father in heaven. Why not? Because, of course, Peter “goes out and weeps bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) In his weeping, Peter seeks forgiveness and obtains grace.
Thank You, Lord for Your loving-kindnesses; thank You that joy comes after weeping, that forgiveness follows after sin and confession. Thank You for Your wondrous mercies. Thank You that You are always faithful. In Jesus’ Name, amen.