Imagine the night Peter is having. At dinner Jesus says that he is going to die and that all are going to desert and deny him. Peter falls asleep in the garden and wakes up into a fight-or-flight scenario—and he does both, attacking and abandoning. Then, whether he is wandering in a stupor or he comes to his senses—shaking off the wine, the nap, and the adrenaline—he circles back to “follow him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest.” As Jesus stands before the priests and council, Peter faces his own trial. He gathers with others by a fire, probably barely aware of the conversations around him. His mind is consumed with confused questions: “What is happening? Why am I even here? Is it all over? Have I been believing a lie this whole time?” Suddenly a voice pierces the fog and stokes paranoia in his heart. He has been found out. Countless feelings could trigger his reaction: “There’s no point in both of us getting caught” or “He was a fraud anyway” or quite simply “I don’t want to die.” Whatever his heart, the cock crows and convicts him. The shadows of the night are broken, the truth sets in, and he weeps.
- Read Mark 14:53–72.
- Ask God for sorrow over your sin and Christ’s suffering.
- Follow Peter into the courtyard. Feel the warmth of the fire, and watch the scene in its dim glow. Hear the fear and denial in Peter’s voice as repeatedly swears and denies knowing Jesus. Hear the rooster announce the dawn. See Peter break down and weep in his shame and grief. What can you learn from Peter’s journey through this whole night?
- Reflect on Jesus’ refusing his right to defend, explain, or justify himself against false accusations. Why does he submit to this? Contrast that with Peter’s denial in the face of true charges. Why does he try to escape?
- In Luke’s gospel, after the cock crows, it says that “the Lord looked straight at [Peter].” Speak with Jesus, imagining this very gaze fixed on you, completely exposed before him.
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Associate Minister at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta, GA and the former Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC.