Hello and welcome to Thursdays foundations podcast. Today we are looking at Matthew 26:57-75, however I’m going to focus on the last 5 verses, Peter’s denial of Jesus. You can find the whole reading on the website.
Let’s look at the Bible verses together:
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Peter is an interesting disciple in the book of the Bible. His mouth often moved faster than his brain. On our thought from Tuesday he swore allegiance to Jesus unto death when Jesus predicted his denial. We read yesterday and today that he didn’t quite have it all together. He fell asleep in Jesus’ moment of need. Yet, when we read that all the other disciples had abandoned Jesus, Peter, to his credit, has followed the drama since the arrest. Although we read today he kept his distance.
I can relate to Peter. I often find myself with good intentions but not always the means to back it up.
A quick story before we talk in more detail about Peter – it’s a story where my mouth moved faster than my brain. I used to work for the University catering team alongside when I first joined the staff team here at STC. I was waiting tables at a rather fancy mid-summer-meal for a prestigious law firm in our city at one of the fanciest University buildings. To my boss’s dismay the professional pianist had not turned up… and to my own surprise… I found my mouth saying these words… I know people who play piano at our church… do not worry I will sort it out.
“Great” she said, and left the prep room.
I then realised what I had said and I began to panic. I couldn’t ring Becca Staniforth at short notice. It was already evening and she has small children. So, I rang a talented student in our church at the time, called Grace and she exposed the enormous hole I had got myself into. To find a willing person to play for three hours. With no practise. On a grand piano she has never seen. In the fanciest room at the University. In front of a large crowd. Over dinner. “That’s correct,” I said. “No way,” she replied! “But maybe Gavin can…” she said. “Put him on,” I said. So long story short. Gavin, who used to be on staff here at STC until recently, dug out a crushed tux. I arranged a taxi. And 30 minutes later… he dazzled the crowd. Much to my relief.
He got paid in a fancy five course meal. Result.
So back to Peter. The disciple who will never deny Jesus has found himself here… Weeping bitterly… It makes you think, why are we being told this detail? And why are we told these things three times? I’d love to briefly explore these two questions today and touch on what happened next to Peter as something for us to take away.
Firstly, why did Peter keep his distance & why did he deny knowing Jesus?
Presumably fear, he watched from the courtyard as Jesus was falsely accused, beaten and insulted. Peter was scared Jesus would die and what that would mean to be associated with such a man. Peter quickly found he wasn’t nearly as bold and courageous as he had proclaimed, and in fear he kept his distance.
Secondly, what is the reason for being told this detail three times?
Because history tells us that Peter become one of the pillars of the early church in Jerusalem. Equipping disciples all over the region. Even today, many people are blessed by his writings in the books of 1 & 2 Peter in the New Testament. What happened to take this disciple we encounter in the story today, to what we hear & know through church tradition?
There is a story in John 21 where the resurrected Jesus reinstates Peter. Jesus had appeared to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee and they had breakfast together. Jesus singles Peter out and asks “do you love me?” not just once but three times. After each of Peter’s replies of Yes… Jesus reminds Peter to take care of his sheep, feed his lambs… in other words to strengthen the disciples.
Jesus was impressing upon Peter the importance of his role in the church, his part to play in the family of faith.
You see Peter was in no way fit to be qualified for the role Jesus had in mind for Peter. In many ways none of us are. We make decisions based on fear from time to time. We get things wrong. But for every mistake we make, every decision that we make that denies Jesus is Lord of our life, Jesus can un-do all of them. He forgives us & just like Peter he still calls us to join in the family & play our part.
Maybe today as we’re reminded of Peters testimony there might be some of us listening who’d like to commit parts of our life to Jesus again today. Offer them to God again.
Perhaps there are many listening who feel encouraged that if God can use Peter to build the church then he can certainly use me. Be reminded that our vision this year is Join Us in Building Community… and we all have a part to play.
God thank you for Gavin and thank you for Peter. Its encouraging that even a hero of the faith like him needed Jesus’ forgiveness. In fact that was the most transforming thing he knew in his life. Would we be encouraged by your spirit and strengthened for the day ahead. Amen.
READING: Matthew 26:57-75
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward and declared, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”’
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’
‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’
‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.
Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?’
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said.
But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’
He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’
Immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.