Read: Mark 14: 53-72
Following the betrayal and arrest in Gethsemane, we find ourselves alongside Peter. Keeping a safe distance, Peter has trailed behind Jesus and the crowd. Upon arriving in the courtyard of the high priest, Peter goes no further, but instead takes a seat by the fire and warms himself.
The following verses run in parallel time, with Jesus inside the home of the High Priest and Peter in the courtyard. Both men are accused; Jesus of blasphemy and Peter of being his follower. When false witness testimonies fail to provide enough evidence to put Jesus to death, the High Priest asks him directly “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus answers, “I am.” Outside, Peter is accused three times of knowing Jesus, and he swears “I do not know the man!”
By the rooster’s second crow, Jesus’ truthful answer has led to his death sentence. Conversely, Peter’s lies have kept him physically safe. It’s easy to point out Peter’s triple failure and believe that I would have done better. Why did Peter even bother following Jesus if he intended to stay at a safe distance, warming himself by the fire, protecting himself from sharing Jesus’ fate?
But If I’m being honest with myself, I find that I’ve protected my own sense of safety and well-being in situations that were far less life-threatening than Peter’s. Like me, have you ever ignored the nudge to share a word of hope or give more to those who have less? Have you sat quietly through gossip or let the fear of offending others keep you from sharing your faith? Or maybe you’ve lied by omission or failed to give God glory for the successes in your life. Like Peter, we all have moments where we stall out in a safe place – afraid of the cost of acknowledging we know Jesus.
Our verses for today leave with us with a broken Peter, weeping at his failure as the rooster crows a second time. But we can rejoice at the promise of restoration from a gracious God! Not only does the risen Jesus send joyous news specifically to Peter (Mark 16:7), he later commissions Peter not once, not twice, but three times in a powerful call to ministry (John 21: 15-17). Let’s rejoice that Jesus both forgives our past denials and calls us back into ministry, restored by his boundless grace!
Melissa Hendrickson, in collaboration with Amanda Rue