Read: Mark 14:66-72
The NIV heading for this section is exceptional: Peter Disowns Jesus. Ouch! Such a poignant word. In the wild sequence of events that happens in this narrative, Peter is lost and shows us he is completely human, too human perhaps, at this moment.
Denial One – Servant Girl
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 entryway. Mark 14:67-68
In a most humiliating way, we read this girl, this servant girl, calls Peter out. In my mind, I see this hulk of a man versus this relatively small girl politely pointing and offering a rather convicting statement: You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus. For some strange reason she has a British accent–I need to work on my imagination!
She’s the servant of the high priest, so there’s no doubt she is well trained and I suspect quite articulate. I’m also confident that Peter at least recognizes this young lady as one who is connected to the ring-leader who is part of those convicting Jesus in their mock trial.
Denial Two – Servant Girl to those gathered
She’s not done yet!
When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it. Mark 14:69-70a
I’m reminded that this is super early in the morning…the rooster has only crowed once (my guess); he has yet to announce the day. What is she doing up and wandering around? Perhaps she’s on breakfast duty, preparing for the day. Suffice it to say, no one is complaining that she’s around–except Peter! Those gathered are listening to her and taking notes, but apparently, not engaging in the conversation at this point. Time for coffee I guess.
Denial Three – Those Gathered Draw Curses
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.” Mark 14:70b-71
Peter’s accent betrays him, you are a Galilean. You’re not from around here are you? Nope! And in typical sailor fashion, Peter’s language turns sour, calling down curses and swearing at those who are finally starting to wake up.
At this point, the cement hardens around Peter’s feet and he’s ready to jump in.
Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72
John Mark’s treatment of Peter’s denial makes me pause and consider the year we are about to conclude. How did 2017 go for you? How many times did I deny Christ? Were there points in time when I disowned Jesus?
Sadly, I’m sure the truth is there like the servant girl pointing out my guilt. No doubt. Peter’s example reminds us we can, and probably will, all fail at some point–perhaps many points. But here’s the thing: this is not the end of the story.
The overwhelmingly amazing part of the narrative is that we know it doesn’t end this way. Peter doesn’t know that at this point in time. He, like me, would just as well put on the cement shoes and jump in the deepest part of the sea. Guilt is a horrible ally. One of the many lessons we learn through reading these passages is to know that we are not to clothe ourselves in pity or shame. Christ died and rose from the grave to remedy this predicament.
There is more to the story. Pause and reflect, but please, keep reading!