Then seizing him (Jesus), they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” (Luke 22:54-60a)
Judas and Peter had much in common. They were both Jewish and both betrayed Jesus at a time when He needed them. Many say Peter betrayed Jesus because he was afraid for his life. But then why didn’t he flee when the temple guards came to take Jesus as nine other apostles did. Only John and Peter followed Jesus. According to John, he was known by the guards and admitted into the high priest, Caiaphas’, house after Jesus while Peter waited outside. After about an hour, John had Peter admitted.
While waiting outside with the curious temple guards who had Jesus arrested, Peter was cold and sat by a fire with them. Peter made himself easily identifiable as the man who had cut off the ear of one who came to seize Jesus. If he were scared, wouldn’t he have waited in a dark corner or gone home? Like Judas, Peter was Jewish and desperately wanted to help Jesus defeat the Romans. But Jesus let himself be taken away. It looked less and less like the Romans would be conquered and more like Jesus would end up in jail or worse. Peter felt sad and abandoned. Jesus wasn’t doing what Peter wanted him to do. Perhaps he didn’t know Jesus as well as he thought. Peter wasn’t completely lying when his first answer was, “I don’t know him!” As the evening progressed and a legion of angels didn’t come to rescue Jesus, Peter was scared he would lose his friend and savior. He had to stay out of jail to help Him escape. It was then he denied being an apostle.
It appears Peter had good intentions, but I don’t really know his heart. I have learned through the study of Luke that Jesus totally controlled the time He was arrested. God is always in control whether it appears He is or not, so we should never lie for the sake of God or Jesus.
Father God, all these years I thought I knew Peter’s heart. I thought he was afraid for his life but perhaps he was afraid for Jesus’ life and the loss of a friend and savior. You didn’t want or need him to lie for you, but you understood why he did. You showed mercy to Peter and helped him become the rock Your church was built on. I praise and thank You for Your mercy and giving me the power of the Holy Spirit to become all you made me to be as I finish my journey to the cross with Jesus and beyond. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.