LUKE - Christ, the Savior of the World
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Luke
PART 6 - THE REPORT OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION (Luke 22 - 24)
8. Peter's Denial and Deep Sorrow (Luke 22:54-62)
54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Peter proved his courage and bravery in the garden, when he drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant. And when his Lord prevented him from striking with the sword, he obeyed, thinking that the Lord was willing to prove that he was the Christ, by bringing hosts of angels to help and free him, and to guide the leaders to worship him, that the kingdom of God might dwell in the center of the high council.
In such a victorious situation, Peter was not willing to be far, but near. So the most courageous one of the disciples stole behind the noisy crowd from the Kidron valley through the door of the guarded city, climbed the high stairs, and arrived at last disguised at the high priest’s house.
As the religious leaders interrogated Jesus about his disciples and his teaching, bringing false witnesses to prove his transgression of the law, Peter sat outside in the courtyard his heart troubled and filled with queries. However he pretended to be at ease, and listened to the conversations of the guards as they mocked the meek King. He also heard their curses against the foolish disciple who cut the ear of their friend, whom this strange prisoner had healed.
Suddenly, in the light of the fire, a certain maid suspected Peter. She looked closely at him, and said with certainty in a loud voice to those who were present: “Beware of him who is sitting in the midst of you! He is a spy. This man is one of Jesus’ company.” This statement pricked Peter’s heart, he thought of jumping up and running away. But he controlled himself, and answered with seeming indifference, as if he were not concerned at all: “No! I do not know him. What are you saying? You are wrong.” Everyone turned to him and heard the accusation and his denial. Yet he pretended to be self-possessed, while he was all set, on the alert, as a tiger aware of imminent danger.
In spite of his denial, the guards began to watch him carefully. One of them had also seen Peter in the Temple with the Lord, and he repeated the maid’s accusation. So Peter flared up once again, and replied angrily and briefly, denying his relation with Jesus and swearing falsely (Mark 14:55-72).
Jesus’ interrogation continued in the high priest’s house. They asked him particularly about his partners, and he answered them not one word. Now that his first disciple had shouted in the courtyard that he did not know the Nazarene, nor was he of his company, the temptation which Jesus had already foretold him happened. The disciples were asleep. They were not ready to suffer, to believe in God’s guidance at every moment, and to testify to the facts with truthfulness. So Peter lied, rejected his Lord, and blasphemed, telling an untruth with an oath.
Thus Peter fell, and great was his fall. He had tried for one complete hour to go out by the door without being noticed. At the same time, another one saw him, looked intently at him, and affirmed that Peter was with the Nazarene, for he spoke like the Galileans. Then Peter cursed himself if he had ever known Jesus or related to him in any way.
Immediately a rooster crowed. It was the rooster which Jesus had foretold him in his compassion, for he had known Peter’s heart would soon boil over, knowing that our trust in God alone, and not our self-confidence, saves us at the time of temptation. The rooster’s crow pierced through Peter’s ear as the sounding trumpet of the Last Judgment, penetrating his confusion and hypocrisy. Peter looked at Jesus being led away by the soldiers from one house to another during those critical moments. Jesus turned as he passed by on the way to Pilate’s house, and looked into Peter’s eyes. This look of the Son of God condemned Peter, and revealed his cowardice and fear.
Simon went out broken and ashamed, for he realized that he was unable to do any good thing, and that he did not believe, in fact, in Jesus’ prophecy. He also realized by his evil denial, that he was no better than the others. That look of Christ melted Peter into tears of godly sorrow for sin. His self-confidence ended, and bitter sorrow filled his distressed heart. He ran out through the open door, and wept bitterly. Peter’s brokenness was Jesus’ great triumph that night, for he had freed his greatest disciple from self-conceit, and self-trust, and showed him the deep-rooted evil within himself. Consequently the tears of repentance led Peter to a new life built on grace alone.
Dear brother, did you ever look into Jesus’ eyes? Did he ever pierce your heart so that you no longer believe in your own power, but fall down penitently at your Savior’s feet?
PRAYER: O Lord, I am but a proud, self-reliant, fainthearted hypocrite. Do not reject me, but free me from the bonds of my sins. Teach me how to become a faithful witness to you with humility and wisdom that I may not do what I will, but what you will, and that I may be strengthened with all might according to your glorious power, for your strength is made perfect in my weakness.
QUESTION 135: What did Peter’s tears signify?