WAITING IN THE WINGS
Lord, sometimes I come up short. My spirit flags, my trust wanes, my life gets out of focus. Today, center me on you again.
Read JOHN 18:15–27
Peter’s First Denial
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect on the pressures that you or others encounter to minimize the significance of your faith. Ask God for discernment as to how to respond.
An unnamed disciple known personally to the high priest gets access into his compound. So well known is he that he’s able to vouch for Peter and get him in as well (vs 15–17).
It’s not clear what Peter hoped to achieve. Did he simply hope to be a witness to what happened to Jesus? Did he dream of rescue and escape? Whatever he hoped to achieve, Peter risks getting in the way, for Jesus has said firmly that he was determined to drink the cup the Father had given him (v 11). The price is high: the pointless, self-appointed mission leads Peter to denying three times that he was Jesus’ disciple at all.
Annas’ purpose is clear. Caiaphas’ inadvertent prophecy stated that it was better for one man to die for the nation than that the Temple and the nation be lost.1 Annas, therefore, seeks an evidential basis that can justify execution. The end is predetermined; anything will be done or said to achieve it. Evidence about the disciples is sought, in order to estimate how much of a threat they might pose without their leader (v 19: cf John 6:1–15, which could have looked like an army mustering, where v 15 shows some at least had thoughts of a rising). Violence is used in an extrajudicial process conducted privately away from more scrupulous eyes.2 Caiaphas isn’t involved, perhaps so that he can disavow what’s happening. When Jesus protests quietly that his teaching was open and public, and that other witnesses can be found to speak for him, he is assaulted. Jesus then points out that he is being beaten for speaking the truth, but in this process with only one predetermined end, no one shows the slightest interest in the truth.
Everyone other than Jesus here was pursuing their own agenda and no one was listening to God. Where might you be rushing ahead without listening?
Gracious Lord, you’ve given me so much. I offer all that I have to you and your purposes in the very best way I can.
1 John 11:47–53 2 Cf John 7:50–52
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