51 – Courage and Cowardice
And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 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.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.
And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
- Testimony: A sworn or written statement that something is true
- Blasphemy: Insulting God
- Prophesy: To say something inspired by God
When was the most difficult period of your life?
Why do you think that Peter followed Jesus?
The first step in the court case against Jesus is to bring him before the religious leaders. They have been looking forward to this for a long time. They were looking for any possible way to prove that he deserved to die. They even called upon people to tell lies! Although the law is clear that bringing false evidence is a sin to be punished severely, they try to use this as a way to kill a totally innocent person. Facing the furious accusations and all the deception, Jesus does not argue. Courageously he keeps quiet, waiting for that which is to come. When he is ready, he chooses to answer the high priest’s question, and acknowledges the truth that he is the King. Straight away they decide that he deserves to die, and the abuse begins.
Whilst all this is happening, Peter had found a little confidence and followed in order to see what was happening. Fair play to him, he walks the whole way into the high priest’s hall and waits there with the servants. But as the night progresses, things go from bad to worse for Peter as he is recognised by a girl and has to deny that he is one of the followers of Jesus. It is painful to read on and to hear him being accused again and him denying once more. You are almost ready to shout, “Peter! Remember the words of Jesus! Don’t do it!” But, as more people accuse him, Peter gets angry and says that he does not know Jesus at all. When the rooster crows Peter realises what he has done, but it is too late.
How do you think Peter felt after all this?
Why do you think that Jesus responded to the questions in the way that he did?
for wisdom and confidence when you answer questions from people who are against you.