John 18:15–27—Peter Denies Jesus
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. 17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”
“No,” he said, “I am not.”
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.
19 Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. 20 Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret.21 Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.”
22 Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”
24 Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
25 Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
26 But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” 27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
Points of Interest
- ‘Everyone knows what I teach’—Jesus has nothing to be ashamed of. Everything they’re asking him about is public knowledge. I think Jesus is making an implicit comparison between Annas and himself. Jesus conducted all of his business in the public square, but Annas is conducting his investigation in private in the middle of the night. Who’s the one doing the hiding?
- ‘Ask those who heard me. They know what I said’— I think this is what we call being a difficult witness. It seems that, while Jesus is not trying to hide anything—and he has, in fact, fully accepted that this process will lead to his execution—he also doesn’t feel a particular need to be respectful of or helpful to this kangaroo court.
- ‘a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off’—Peter hasn’t fully thought his plan through. It’s tough to go undercover when you just a moment ago cut off the ear of someone in the same group you’re trying to infiltrate.
Taking It Home
- For you: For many of us every time we read this passage we judge Peter: ‘How dare you deny Jesus? Aren’t you supposed to be, like, one of his closest friends? And c’mon, didn’t you just tell him you were willing to die for him. Sheesh.’ Despite our impatience with Peter, truth be told, most of us may not have actually responded much differently. Maybe it’s because we often lose track of what, in fact, our relationship to Jesus is; it’s hard to speak up about Jesus when we can barely figure out how to describe him and our relationship to him. How would you answer the question, ‘Who is Jesus to you?’ Spend some time today reflecting on the past six weeks of Lent. How have you seen or experienced Jesus during this time? Is there anything new you’ve learned about Jesus or an aspect of Jesus that you’ve experienced for the first time? Consider actually writing about these things to Jesus.
- For your 6: The religious leaders and the crowds have so strongly accused Jesus for so long that they have entirely lost their ability to hear him. He could have said, ‘You just won the lottery,’ and they still would only hear him as spouting utter blasphemy. Ask Jesus to break any false accusations your 6 have made against Jesus. Ask Jesus to give your 6 the ability to truly see and hear what Jesus is actually saying, and not just what they have always assumed him to be saying.
- For our church: Annas holds his court in secret, while Jesus is open and public about what he says and does; and Jesus seems to get a great deal of strength and confidence from the fact that he has nothing to hide. Pray that our church would be a place where destructive secrets have no place. Pray for our church to be typified by a strong, confident, free, and life-giving openness.