The scene begins when the high priests start questioning and testing Jesus. Jesus is facing death and it’s amazing how composed he is. During the questioning he barely says anything, even when they are making up lies about him! Verse 56 even reads “For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree.”
Jesus only responds when they actually say something true: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
“62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Jesus doesn’t respond to false testimony and false witness.
In verse 64 the high priest says: “You have heard this blasphemy. What is your decision?” He doesn’t want to take full responsibility for the weight of his actions.
Let’s define blasphemy for a moment:
the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.
That line, “what is your decision”, never struck me before. I remember Pilate asking the crowd what to do, but not this. These priests and elders are being blasphemous here. It makes me think of things I hear that are truly blasphemous. What Jesus said wasn’t blasphemy.
People referring to God’s children as savages is blasphemous.
People hoarding generations worth of resources and ostracizing the poor is blasphemous.
Refusing to see the image of God The Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit in other people is blasphemy.
And then there’s Peter.
Peter stayed close to Jesus. Even when no one else was around. He was behind the scenes. For three years, Peter followed Jesus. He learned and failed all throughout this time.
Peter is one of the most dynamic disciples. He can be hasty, loving, gentle, loyal and uncertain at times. He just finished slicing a guy’s ear off to defend Jesus! He’s easy to root for and identify with. I would have sliced an ear off too! He is often the spokesperson to the crowds when Jesus is not immediately available. He is well-known.
Now on to Peter’s betrayal and denial.
The servant girl approaches him while he is devastated and defeated. It’s interesting to me that Peter was even there. He could have went back to his family and former life but he didn’t.
Even though he denies Jesus three different times, he never abandons him. His mouth says “I do not know this man!” but his feet say otherwise. Even the bystanders realize he is still with Jesus.
Sometimes other people know us better than we know ourselves. Even more so, God knows us. Jesus knew Peter. Peter rebuked Jesus when he told Peter that he would deny him three times. He couldn’t imagine how something like that would ever happen.
So when it happened he broke down and wept. He was defeated.
Verse 54 says that “despite this, Peter followed Jesus at a distance.”
I understand how the disciples and the thousands of people following Jesus feel right now. He just got betrayed in the middle of the night and arrested. They left everything to follow him. We’re talking about despair and defeat. The disciples were defeated. Their champion was seized.
They lost. They were lost.
Some had jobs, families, homes to go back to. Others had nothing.
I’ve been defeated before.
It was my sophomore year in college and things were looking up. I had a beat up pickup truck, a job, friends and a dog. I was living by myself in the house we had since high school. First the lights shut off. Then next thing I knew I had no home. Not only did the bank foreclose on the house but they tossed everything in the trash too. Before I knew it, all I had were dirty clothes, a truck, and my backpack.
I was devastated.
Even though my Youth Pastor friend let me live in his house, I couldn’t shake the feeling of defeat. My pictures, keepsakes, high school diploma. Gone. With no way to get them back. I was at a loss for words. I tried to act unbothered but it was a hard time.
Of all the disciples, I identify the most with Peter. In one day, he went from using his sword to defend Jesus, to denying he ever knew him.
Denying three years of healing, miracles, teaching and preaching.
Denying The Messiah.
Denying his friend.
It’s easy to criticize Peter. He made a terrible mistake by denying that he knows Jesus. But that doesn’t negate the fact that he chose to stay in the courtyard while Jesus was on trial. He could have went back to fishing with his brother Andrew. He didn’t. Peter is many things. He’s not just the one who denied Jesus. He is the one who defended him too. He’s like us. Flawed yet growing.
1) When have you felt defeated? What did you lose?
2) Are you defending or denying Jesus? When do you defend or deny? Is it when everyone is watching or when you’re alone?
3) Is Jesus worth defending/loving? What do you gain?
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