Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Some have believed that the other disciple spoken of here was John the Apostle. Tradition tells us that John the fisherman was the writer of this book. As a result, some believe John the fisherman was the other disciple spoken of here. That is because the author often speaks of himself in the third person. But it is improbable the high priest would have a close friendship with a common fisherman. The high priest knew the “other disciple.” Plus the high priest’s servants knew him. So, it appears this “other disciple” had frequented the high priest’s home.
The proceedings were private. Not anyone could get in. The other disciple was able to walk right into the house. The servants denied Peter access until the “other disciple” vouched for him. Then the servant girl granted Peter access. But this access costs Peter. Before the servant girl lets Peter in she asks him if he is one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies he is Jesus disciple. The first of three denials.
We do not know Peter’s motive at this point. It may have been love for Christ. It could be he wanted to be near his Lord during this time. He may have thought he could be helpful. And to be helpful he needed to get inside. To get inside he needed to deny he was Jesus’ disciple. But at this point, it is almost certain it was not fear. If Peter was afraid he would not have tried to go in at all.
Once he was inside though things seem to change. He now realized He is in the belly of the beast. He tries to blend in. He does what everyone else is doing. He warms himself by the fire. But he is a fisherman in high society. He does not fit in. He stands out like a sore thumb.
The high priest interrogates Christ. He asks him about His disciples and His teaching. This shows the high priest’s fear of Jesus. He was afraid of where Jesus’ teaching would lead. He was paranoid the Romans would remove him from his office (John 11:48). The Romans had removed the high priest before.
Christ’s reply to the high priest was the high priest already knew the answer. Jesus had spoken in public. He taught in the temple. He could bring in witnesses as the law prescribed. But the desire for truth was not driving the high priest. Fear was driving him.
Jesus’ does not condemn those who preach the Gospel in private. It is absurd to think so. Christ does not address the lawfulness of teaching in private. His intention is to put down the insolent malice of Caiaphas. His intent was to show the illegality of the proceedings. There were witnesses. The law prescribes they were to call witnesses.
Christ taught nothing in secret he had not taught in public. We should learn from this. Many think they need to attract people by false means. We should not hide the gospel in rock concerts and coffee houses. We are not to appear to be one thing in public another in private. We are not to sneak up on people to convert them.
When Jesus finished His reply, an officer struck Him. The writer shows the contrast of Jesus to the illegal assembly. There was no falsehood in Jesus. He was the same in private as in public. These men tried to appear civil and follow judicial proceedings. Yet they were savage beasts. They were one thing in public and another in private. What is inside a man always oozes out.
Christ rebukes the officer who strikes Him. The officer stuck Christ because he thought the truth was inappropriate. This man thought Christ who made all things (John 1:3), should show deference to a creature He made.
Some may argue Christ is not following His own teaching about turning the other cheek. (Matthew 5:39) They claim Christ response should have been, “Please sir may I have another?”
In turning the other cheek, Christ was teaching we should first, endure with patience. Second, we are to give up all thoughts of revenge. We are to overcome evil with good, (Romans 12:21.) That is what Christ was doing.
The writer now shifts his focus back to Peter. We may assume Peter entered the gates of the high priest without fear. But now fear overtakes him. After he denied his Lord once it was easy to do it again. Sin has a way of edging itself into our lives. Having justified a small sin for good intentions we find it easy to continue in that sin.
But the mercy of God was that the Cock crowed and reminded Peter of his sin. He remembered the words of Christ and left crying bitterly (Luke 22:62)