Two on Trial

Posted: February 14, 2016 in John, Uncategorized

John 18:12-27, “Two on Trial”

It was Charles Dickens wrote the classic novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” beloved by English teachers everywhere (but not by their students!).  If Charles Dickens were describing this text from John, he might call it “A Tale of Two Trials.”  Both were unofficial trials, but they were trials nonetheless.  Jesus on the inside; Peter on the outside.  Both were faced with the confrontation of who they were – yet only one of them failed.

Peter gets a lot of criticism for that night, and there’s no question that he failed – but we need to cut him a bit of slack.  After all, he faced something that none of us will ever experience: the arrest and impending death of the Son of God.  All of that happened for us in history, and we can look back with confidence upon the resurrection.  For Peter, this all played out in real-time, and despite all of Jesus’ preparations for him, Peter hadn’t received much of it.  Peter’s hopes hinged upon a victorious Messiah; not one in bonds & facing certain execution.  Peter had done what he could to avoid this outcome, even acting boldly (yet sinfully) in a vain attempt to stage an insurrection and rescue.  Jesus stopped him, saving not only his life but the lives of all His disciples, and now Peter is left confused and aimless, not knowing what will happen next.

In the process, Peter walks straight into the heart of temptation, where he will fail miserably.  Jesus, being in that same place, stays true to the plan and purpose of God showing mercy even in the face of those who sought His death.

John 18:12–27
12 Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. 13 And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year.

  1. The NASB specifically describes the troops as being “Roman,” but that’s a bit of interpretation & the editors italicize it, showing it as an insertion/assumption.  John does use language typical of Roman soldiers, but he never specifically identifies them as “Roman.”  More than likely, there was a combination of Jews and Romans, and John indicates at least that much from his description.  Whatever the makeup of the group, Jesus is officially taken into custody by them, and is bound.  Why He’s bound is unknown.  Despite Peter’s outburst, Jesus never once demonstrated a tendency towards violence, and it was Jesus’ personal interaction that stopped Peter & the rest from making a tense situation incredibly bloody.  Perhaps it was standard procedure, not unlike handcuffs today are used during police arrests.
  2. Once under arrest, the first stop is “Annas.”  This is where things get a bit intriguing, from a political standpoint.  Officially speaking, Annas had no authority invested in him over anyone else.  It was his son-in-law “Caiaphas who was high priest that year.”  From an official standpoint, Annas had no business at all seeing Jesus.  Unofficially, it would have made perfect sense to the Jews.  In years past, Annas had been high priest, having been appointed to the position by Quirinius in 6AD (the same Quirinius mentioned in Luke 2 as being governor over Syria).  A later prefect over Judea (Valerius Gratus, to be replaced by Pontius Pilate) became displeased with Annas & deposed him in 15AD.  All of that would seem to be politics-as-usual, with the exception that the Jews viewed the high priesthood as a lifetime office.  Considering how the various sons & sons-in-law of Annas also served as high priest, it seemed that Annas perhaps remained the power behind the priesthood, no matter who had the title at any given point in time.
  3. What does all of this mean in the case of Jesus?  It means that although Annas had no official power to do anything to Jesus, he had much unofficial power to make life miserable for him.  Remember that Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, and the majority of the priests and Pharisees had already determined that Jesus needed to die.  They were just waiting for the time & opportunity.  Now they had it, but Passover was upon them.  They would need to kill Jesus as quick as possible, before there was a chance for an uprising against them.  Thus Annas gets involved to try to speed things along.  He does a bit of pre-trial hearing, with two goals in mind: (1) try to get Jesus to incriminate Himself, and (2) give the Sanhedrin the opportunity gather themselves & any appropriate witnesses as soon as they can.  Plus, Annas gets the opportunity to flex his muscles a bit & act out on Jesus, without it being the “official” actions of the high priest.  It’s all of the title with none of the responsibility.
  4. The bottom line is that Jesus was about to be railroaded, and Annas was just the first step in making the pre-approved plan of the priests to come to pass.  There was nothing in the next few hours that would even resemble Hebrew justice; it was all a hypocritical farce meant to bring about a certain death sentence.
  5. Of course, that’s not to say God wasn’t still in control of the entire affair.  He was! Vs 14…

14 Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

  1. John’s readers had already been introduced to Caiaphas back in 11:49-50.  Once Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the priests and Pharisees panicked, knowing that Jesus was providing undeniable proof of His power & authority from God.  They feared that people might actually put their faith in Him as Messiah, which would have fierce consequences from the Romans.  (Although if the priests and Pharisees actually believed in Jesus as the Messiah, they would have known that the Romans never stood a chance against the Anointed One of God!)  It was at that point that Caiaphas rebuked the group, telling them that one man needed to die in order for the whole nation to be saved.
  2. Caiaphas may have believed he was being a shrewd politician, but in reality he was being used by God to prophesy of the ultimate work of the Messiah: to be a sin sacrifice.  The Messiah will indeed come to be King over the Jews & all the world, but His first mission was to seek and to save the lost.  It was for Him to be our substitution – to pay the price for our sins by Himself being a sin sacrifice.  One Man would indeed die in order that all the nation would be saved.  It’s just that this salvation would not be from the Romans; it would be from eternal death itself.
  3. This was the plan of God, and it would not be overthrown for any reason!  God is more than powerful enough to use even His enemies for His glory, and that is exactly what He did with Caiaphas, Annas, Pilate, and Judas himself.  Each one of these men willingly acted in sinful opposition to Jesus, but each one was also used by the Sovereign God for His purposes.  After all, for Jesus to be a sacrifice, that means Jesus had to die.  He could not kill Himself; He had to be killed in an act of punishment (that’s the very definition of a sacrifice).  He had to die an accursed death in order that the curse might be fulfilled, and we would be freed.  Thus He needed enemies to sentence Him to death, and there were enemies waiting in the wings to do just that…all according to God’s sovereign plan.

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. …

  1. On one hand, this is really good.  When Jesus was first arrested, all of the disciples fled the scene (Mk 14:50), which certainly included Peter as well as everyone else.  At some point along the way, at least two of the disciples stopped panicking, collected their senses, and “followed Jesus” to where the soldiers took Him.
  2. On the other hand, this is questionable strategy.  After all, Jesus very specifically told Peter that Peter would deny Him three times that very night (Jn 13:38).  Would it not have been better for Peter to lock himself alone in a room, and spent the night in prayer & fasting?  It would seem that the fewer people he encountered, the fewer opportunities he would have to deny his Lord & friend.  Of course, Jesus’ prophetic words would ring true no matter what Peter did, but Peter does seem to walk straight into temptation when he walks into the public.  Perhaps he thought (as so many of us do) that he would be strong enough to handle whatever temptation came his way.
    1. Newsflash: he wasn’t…and neither are we.  The Bible is clear that no temptation comes upon us that God does not provide for us a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13).  But that’s only helpful to us if we’re looking to escape.  Our problem is that we don’t want to escape; we want to push through.  We think we’re strong enough to fight the temptations around us.  The simple fact is that we aren’t.  The best way to fight temptation is to flee temptation; to turn away from it & turn towards Jesus Christ, crying out to Him for help and the power of the Holy Spirit.  The true fight against temptation starts long before we ever encounter it face-to-face.  It takes place when we spend time on our knees in prayer – when we hide the word of God deep within our hearts – when we build up habits of holiness…that’s when we proactively fight temptation.  Otherwise, the very best strategy against temptation is to turn around.  Flee it!  If you stare it in the eye, chances are, you’ll lose.  God promises a way of escape, so look for it & take it!
  3. Who was the other disciple?  The Scriptures do not explicitly say, but tradition & most scholars believe it to be John, who has a habit of never naming himself in his gospel account.

…Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.

  1. Assuming that the “other disciple” was John, John was somehow an acquaintance of the high priest.  There are many theories as to how – it’s possible that John was a cousin of Jesus, and if so, he would have also been a cousin to John the Baptist.  John the Baptist’s father Zecharias was himself a priest, so perhaps that was the connection to Annas.  Whatever the case, John’s relationship with Annas certainly helped him get inside the gate.  It did not, however, help his fellow disciple…at least, not at first.  You can almost picture it: the two of them walking together – John getting in, turning around & noticing that Peter isn’t there with him.  That’s when John went back to the servant girl at the door & put in a good word for Peter to get him inside.  It helps to know folks who know folks.
    1. In a sense, that’s how our own salvation works.  On our own, we are only enemies of God, with nothing to commend us to Him.  But faith in Christ changes all of that.  Now we know Someone who knows Someone.  Now because of Jesus, we have the seal of the Holy Spirit upon us & we have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  We are given eternal life not because of anything we’ve done, but because of the work of Jesus on our behalf.  He’s the one who got us through the gate.
  2. However, things didn’t get easy for Peter once he got inside.  Getting through the gate was just the first hurdle.  Now he would be flung head-on into temptation…

17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

  1. In John’s account, all of the questions are posed to Peter in the negative.  The Synoptic gospels don’t show questions, but rather statements assuming that Peter was a disciple of Jesus.  None of the four accounts contradict one another; they are just different viewpoints of the same events.  Each of the four show the first questioner being a girl; it’s John who brings out the fact that she was the doorkeeper.  In any case, the question is asked, and the first denial is given.
  2. It’s the strength of the denial that stands out so vividly.  There’s no hedging – there’s no ambiguity – there’s no politician word-salad that tries to say “no” while sounding like he’s saying “yes,” – it is a simple & direct “I am not.”  Interestingly enough, it’s the direct opposite of what Jesus said when affirming His own deity.  When Jesus said “I AM,” He used the Greek “Εγω ειμι.” Peter’s reply was “Ουκ ειμι,” – same basic words; just negated.  Grammatically, this could mean nothing – after all, Peter doesn’t use an emphatic pronoun like Jesus did, and this is a natural way for Peter to state this.  But considering John’s usage of the phrase with Jesus, it seems to jump off the page.  Jesus openly and clearly referred to His deity; Peter used the opposite words to openly separate himself from the Son of God.
  3. The bottom line is that Peter DID deny Jesus, and he left no grey area for argument.  Just as solidly as he said that he would never deny his Lord, that’s exactly what Peter ended up doing.  And of course, it wouldn’t be the only time.
    1. Never say never!  It’s easy for us to look at Peter’s reaction & claim we would never do the same.  Guess what?  That is exactly what Peter thought, too.  Everyone else might stumble in regards to Jesus, but he never would (Mk 14:29).  Peter ended up eating those words, and that meal was bitter.  The truth is, we don’t ever know how we will react to something until the moment comes that we face it.  Was it wrong for Peter to desire to do good?  Of course not…the problem was his pride.  If Peter had received Jesus’ prophecy with humility and brokenness, who knows how dependent Peter might have been on prayer earlier that night?  Jesus had prayed for Peter; if only Peter would have done the same, things might have turned out differently.  As for us, the lesson with Peter is not only his failure, but to beware our own tendency to fail as well.  If it could happen to Peter, it could most certainly happen to us.
  4. BTW – when Peter lied to the servant girl, he didn’t only deny Jesus; he denied John as well.  Remember it was on John’s word that Peter was let through the gate in the first place.  What other reason would Peter have been allowed inside, other than John saying, “He’s with me,”?  John was a disciple of Jesus, so that made the assumption of the servant girl obvious: Peter must have been a disciple as well.  Peter denied Jesus, and he cast doubt on the integrity of his friend as well.

18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.

  1. The mention of the charcoal fire might seem unusual to some.  Although Passover is a springtime festival, we need to keep in mind that it still gets quite cool in Jerusalem during the spring, especially in the pre-dawn hours.  It is 2500 feet above sea-level, and cool temperatures can be expected that time of year.  (We’ve had Resurrection Sunrise services on the downtown square when a campfire would have felt quite nice!)  With that as a background, it’s no wonder that Peter joined up with the others to keep warm.
  2. Yet the fact that he did so only set the stage for more trouble to come.  Peter wasn’t only trying to keep warm; he was trying to blend in.  The less attraction he brought to himself, the better.  How better could he do this, than to stand among the rest of the crowd & get warm?  But that was exactly the problem.  When Peter tried to blend in with the crowd, he was already making a decision to further deny Jesus.  Peter was so busy trying to look like the world that he forgot he was supposed to look like a Christian.  Of course, that was the point.  He didn’t want to look like a disciple.  Even here, Peter is denying Jesus through his silence, beyond his lies to the servant girl.
    1. Have you ever wanted to just blend in?  Have you ever wanted to “turn off” your Christianity for a while?  There are times it just seems easier to be like everyone else & go with the crowd.  It can be easier, but what’s the cost?  When we choose not to be an overt Christian, we’re still making a choice.  At that point, we’re making a choice to deny our Savior…just like Peter.

19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.

  1. The scene changes back to Jesus, and His interrogation by Annas.  John’s gospel is the only one out of the four that records this hearing at all, and even here John doesn’t write much.  We’re not told how many questions Annas threw at Jesus, or what exactly about His disciples and teaching Annas wanted to know.  What we do know is that the questions (however many there were) weren’t necessary at all.  Throughout the gospel of John, we are told repeatedly that the priests and Pharisees heard Jesus’ teaching, and saw His miracles.  Those things were the very reasons they plotted His death in the first place.  Annas knew precisely the things Jesus taught…that was the problem.
  2. So why did Annas ask?  For the reasons mentioned earlier: (1) buy time for the Sanhedrin, and (2) to try to get Jesus to incriminate Himself.  If Annas could get Jesus talking, maybe Jesus would provide enough rope to hang Himself (so to speak).  Of course, we need to understand that this was all illegal.  (1) Jesus shouldn’t have been brought to Annas at all, since he had no legal standing. (2) Jewish witnesses weren’t generally forced to testify against themselves; people were put to death based on the testimony of 2-3 reliable witnesses against them. (3) All of this happening in the pre-dawn hours was highly irregular…and the list could go on.  However illegal it may have been, Annas believed he could get away with it.  And politically, he could; spiritually, he would never.  Even the enemies of God still have to face Him on Judgment Day.
  3. Jesus called out the illegality of it in vs. 20…

20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”

  1. What Jesus said, He said openly – He said publicly.  The priests & Pharisees were there…they knew it.  Annas could have called any number of witnesses if he wanted.  But that was the point: he didn’t want witnesses.  He wanted a show trial.  He wanted to play “good cop/bad cop,” only without any “good cop” present.  Annas may have been able to use his title & persona to intimidate other people; not Jesus.  It’s impossible to intimidate the Son of God!
  2. When Jesus said that He said nothing “in secret,” that’s not to say that He didn’t have any private conversations.  Obviously He had much time alone with His disciples, and He intentionally gave them interpretations to parables that He did not give to the public.  But the basic content of His teaching did not change.  The parables meant the same thing, whether or not the audiences heard the interpretation of them.  Anything Jesus said in private lined up with what He spoke in public.  He was completely true to Himself & His word, without a shred of hypocrisy in Him.
    1. What a fantastic example for all of us!  One of the most common complaints against Christians is that of hypocrisy.  Many times it’s false, but we’re fooling ourselves if we claim that there’s never any truth in the charge.  There are times Christians are hypocrites.  We claim grace for ourselves, but demand law upon someone else.  We decry one form of sin in public, while partaking of the same sin in private.  Christians are not hypocrites for being sinners – after all, a Christian (by definition) is someone who has admitted their sin & their need for a Savior in Christ Jesus.  But Christians can be hypocrites in how we deal with sin.  Follow the example of the Lord Jesus!  His life was an open book.  His enemies could accuse Him of many things (and they did), but they could never accuse Him of being two-faced.  Live a life of sincerity.
  3. The good news (or it would have been good news if Annas had been interested in it) is that there were plenty of witnesses who did know what Jesus said and taught.  Any one of the disciples could have been called to testify, or any random stranger who happened to be in the temple when Jesus was teaching.  They could have easily found someone who heard Jesus claim to be God – after all, the multitude picked up stones and were ready to kill Him themselves when He did it. (Jn 8:58-59)
    1. How can the world know about Jesus today?  The same way: find a witness.  If those who know Christ testify of what He said and did, then everyone else can know as well.  And guess where there happen to be a multitude of witnesses?  The church. J  Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  This is our job!  This is our raison d’etre – our purpose.  Jesus was speaking to the 11 disciples at the time, but He was also speaking to whoever else was gathered together with them.  ALL of them would receive power as the Holy Spirit came upon them (which all of them did on the Day of Pentecost), and thus ALL of them would be witnesses of Jesus.  They would all testify to others of the wonderful things Christ has done & the awesome God that He is. 
    2. Their commission is our commission.  Today, WE are the witnesses of Christ. True, we have not physically walked with Him or dined with Him, but we do know Him.  Those who have faith in Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord have a true, living relationship with the Living God.  We do not have faith in an idea; we have faith in a Person.  In fact, if you claim to be a Christian but cannot affirm that you actually know Jesus, you really have no claim at all.  Jesus said that there would be many who see Him in eternity, claiming to have done all kinds of great things for them, but He will turn them away saying that He never knew them. (Mt 7:23)  Our eternal salvation is wrapped up in our knowing Christ.  But if you do know Him, that means you can testify of Him.  You can tell of Him & introduce other people to Him.  When the world is in need of a witness, pray that they need not go far!

22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”

  1. If only the officer who struck Jesus had a clue as to whom he hit, he would have never lifted a finger against Him!  The officer understood that Jesus not only refused to answer the question, but had pointed out the illegality of Annas’ asking & he responded by slapping Jesus (presumably across the face).  The fact that the guard lived long enough to even hear a rebuke from Jesus is evidence of the mercy of God!  He could have (and probably should have) dropped dead that instant.  If Uzzah fell dead for putting his hand to the ark of the covenant (2 Sam 6:6), how much more this guard for putting his hand to the Son of God!  Yet again, this was the plan of God at work.  Jesus was destined to be rejected and abused by His own, in order that He would be a righteous sin sacrifice not only for the Jews, but also for the world.
  2. Jesus did rebuke the guard, but perhaps not in the way that we might expect.  If it were us who were unjustly slapped, we might call down our constitutional rights & attempt all sort of defense and retribution.  Jesus merely pointed out his sin.  It was not disrespectful to the “high priest” to ask him to call witnesses (and Annas wasn’t even the high priest, anyway!).  If Jesus had said something wrong or illegal, then the guard should have been able to identify it easily.  But if Jesus spoke the truth, then the hit was wrong.  Of course Jesus did speak the truth, and that was the reason the guard hit Him.  The world always reacts vehemently against the truth of God, because it is a bright light shining in the midst of darkness.  Light can be hopeful for those seeking it; but it is painful for those who wish to avoid it.  People of the world prefer their sin to salvation, and thus they prefer the darkness.  (Just like we did.  When we were of the world, we were no different.) 
  3. BTW – did Jesus risk getting struck again?  Yes.  If the guard hit Him once, there was no reason the guard would not have hit Him a second time – and indeed, Jesus would go on to be beaten that night.  But that didn’t stop Jesus from speaking the truth, even to the man who just slapped Him.  Those in darkness might hate the light, but they still need it.  They are still sinners in need of salvation, just like we are.  The only way they will ever understand their need for Jesus if we keep shining His light for them to see.

24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

  1. Annas perhaps understood he was outmatched & not getting anywhere.  Or perhaps he received word that Caiaphas had now gathered enough of the Sanhedrin to have the “official” trial for Jesus.  Either way, he was done & sent Jesus on His way.
  2. There’s no indication that Jesus had to go very far.  The other gospels never mention Annas, but all seem to presume that Peter’s denial took place outside the house wherever Jesus was, and once Peter arrives there’s no mention of him moving from place to place.  Since Annas was the father-in-law to Caiaphas, perhaps they had two rooms in the same household complex, or maybe that was the house Caiaphas chose to gather with the Sanhedrin.  The bottom line is that one trial was done, but another was just beginning.
  3. Incredibly, Jesus is still bound.  Humanly speaking, Jesus was a man like anyone else.  He didn’t have super-strength like Samson.  No doubt Jesus was physically strong, but He didn’t have the muscles to snap the rope that held Him.  As God the Son, however, nothing could hold Him.  He could have gone through those bonds like a hot knife through butter!  The fact that Jesus remained restrained means that He willingly subjected Himself to those bonds.  As others have said, it wasn’t the ropes that held Him; it was His love for you & me – it was His desire to glorify God.  Even here, the gospel was on display as the Son of God was truly willing to lay down His life for us.
  4. Jesus remained true to the will of God on the inside.  On the outside, however, Peter did not.  Vs. 25…

25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!”

  1. Time had passed since the initial question from the servant girl.  The bold & brash fisherman had already caved to the question of a girl – how would he fare with others?  Not well.  Remember that Peter was trying to blend in with the crowd – to fit in with those around him.  He was hanging out with the others, surely not trying to strike up conversation, but just trying to stay warm & inconspicuous.  His identity, however, was anything but inconspicuous & the people around him soon question who he is, assuming that he was a disciple.
  2. Keep in mind that just as much as Jesus had taught openly, Jesus’ disciples were with Him openly.  The gospels don’t always show the disciples around Jesus, but they do for most of the time.  If people recognized Jesus, it isn’t unlikely that they would have recognized those who were always with Jesus.  As Jesus ministered day-to-day, it would have been obvious whom His disciples were, because they were the men who were serving Him, helping Him attend to whatever tasks needed to be done.
  3. Both Matthew and Mark imply that it was the servant girl who again questioned Peter.  Luke says it was a man.  John simply speaks of the crowd.  Contradictions?  Not at all.  No doubt Peter’s first denial to the servant girl was not believed by her, and she started talking with others as Peter hung around the campfire.  Most likely a few folks confronted Peter all around the same time, prompting his 2nd denial.  And deny Jesus, he did.  The editors of the NKJV mark his 2nd denial with an exclamation point, but the original Greek text had no such grammatical marker.  The other gospels each show Peter’s intensity rising with each denial, so that’s probably what is reflected here.
  4. Of course the point is that Peter did it again.  He had the opportunity to come clean, but he didn’t do it.  It’s difficult for us to imagine how frightened Peter must have been at that moment.  His own life was in danger – after all, not only was he a disciple of the Man on trial inside the house, but Peter had just assaulted a man with a deadly weapon.  Peter had every reason to be personally arrested & killed right alongside of Jesus.  Beyond that, Peter’s whole world was crumbling inside with Jesus.  He knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  But he could not allow himself to believe that the Christ would actually suffer and die.  In fact, Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that very thing (Mt 16:22), for which he himself received a stern rebuke from the Lord.  But here it is – all coming true before his eyes.  For Peter, it wasn’t only his own physical life he feared; it was his whole spiritual future as well.
    1. Thankfully, we look back in history not only to that night, but the morning that followed three days later: the resurrection.  When we look to Jesus’ death, we look at it in combination with His victory over the grave.  Thus when we are faced with the danger of persecution and hatred, we do so knowing that we ultimately have an assured home with Jesus…and that gives us a confidence that Peter never had that night.  (Though he would have it very soon!)

26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.

  1. This time, Peter is confronted with irrefutable proof.  There were some present who heard Peter’s Galilean accent, confirming he was not a Jerusalem local.  But even more than that was a relative of the man that Peter assaulted.  There was an eyewitness to Peter’s act.  This should have been the end of it – but it wasn’t.  Against every proof to the contrary, Peter again denied who he was, even cursing & swearing in the process (Mt & Mk).  At this point, Peter’s lie was evident to everyone present, like the child whose mouth is covered in chocolate all the while claiming he didn’t eat anything.  There was no denying it, yet he did it anyway.
    1. Why is it we double down on sin?  Because it comes naturally to us.  We believe it’s easier to keep digging a hole, rather than just climbing out of it.  That’s just who we are.  No one has to teach children to sin – it’s just human nature.  Not a one of us sat our children down & taught them how to lie.  They felt the pangs of their own conscience, and did whatever they could to avoid the consequences of their action.  We carry that all the way into adulthood.  We believe it’s easier to keep sinning because that way we can keep pushing our guilt aside.  In reality, we ought to know better.  We might be able to push away our guilt, but we can never rid ourselves of it.  The only way guilt is addressed is through forgiveness, and the only way forgiveness comes is through confession.  And thankfully, that’s exactly what Jesus promises us.  1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Jesus does forgive, but we need to confess to Him in order to receive it.  Stop what you’re doing – agree with Him that your sin is truly sinful – and ask for His mercy and grace.  That’s exactly what He desires to give to us, but we’ve got to stop what we’re doing long enough to ask.
  2. Of course, Peter didn’t ask (not yet, anyway).  He kept on with his sin right up to the point that he heard the rooster crow.  That was exactly the sign Jesus gave him regarding the prophecy.  We can only imagine how Peter’s heart must have crumbled in that moment as he realized the depth of his own depravity.  The other gospels that Peter went out and wept bitterly, and it’s no doubt as to the reason why.

Conclusion:
Two trials took place that night: Jesus on the inside; Peter on the outside.  Jesus testified of the truth; Peter denied it with a lie.  Jesus faced illegality & open hostility; Peter faced some simple questioning.  Each fulfilled prophecy, but only one was pleasing to God in the process.

We will be asked to witness of Jesus, no doubt about it.  What will be your response?

Keep in mind, this is not a “I’m better than Peter!” sort of application.  None of us are better than Peter, and most likely each of us would have done the same thing as he did if we had been in his shoes that night.  We don’t read of any other disciples being confronted by others, so we don’t know if any others (including John) faced the same temptations.  And it’s not as if Peter remained this way.  After Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon him, Peter boldly and publicly witnessed of Jesus in many ways – eventually leading to his own death.  Peter was not forever a failure, but he did fail that night…which serves as a warning to us all.  We will be tempted to deny Jesus.  Don’t want until the last minute to prepare for that temptation. …

Of course, we don’t have to deny Jesus to fail Jesus.  All of us have failed Him in myriads of ways.  The good news is that He promises His forgiveness.  Maybe you’ve faced some sort of temptation this week and failed miserably.  Maybe you even doubled-down on your failure like Peter did.  You may have failed; but you’re not destined to remain a failure.  That is not your forever-label in life.  If you are a Christian, you are a child of God, and you have access to the forgiveness of God…ask for it!  Confess your sin for what it is – admit it for all its vile depravity – be honest with what it is you have done…and be done with it!  Take it to the feet of Jesus in prayer, ask for His forgiveness, and He will grant it.  As a believer, you have an Advocate in Christ Jesus…He is on your side.  Believe Him for it, and receive the forgiveness & cleansing He offers.  That doesn’t give us the freedom to continue in sin; but it does give us the freedom to walk away from sin’s guilt.

If you’ve never experienced that kind of freedom, you can.  If you cannot testify to the fact that you know that you know the Lord Jesus, then all of that can change today.  Jesus IS alive, and He can be known by those who seek Him.  So seek Him!  Seek out the Savior who died for Peter & for you.  Know that the reason He died was to stand in your place for the punishment you deserved for your sins, and that He offers you forgiveness and eternal life in His resurrected life.  Receive Him today as your Lord, Savior, and King, and you will know Him in truth & be known by Him forever.

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