Mark 14:53-72 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 "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.'" 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?" 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" 62 Jesus said, "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and 'coming with the clouds of heaven.'" 63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?" All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, "Prophesy!" The guards also took him over and beat him. 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, "You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth." 68 But he denied it, saying, "I do not know or understand what you are talking about." And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. 69 And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean." 71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, "I do not know this man you are talking about." 72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept.
Music: Erbarme dich from the Matthew Passion
Peter ran away but he has forced himself to come back. His courage swells and then deflates. As we listen to the gospel story, it is like a film where the scenes featuring Jesus and Peter are intercut. Jesus is interrogated by the Jerusalem priestly aristocracy. Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Peter is interrogated by a servant girl: "You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.. Jesus seems to draw strength from his accusers, Peter’s weakness is zeroed in on by the girl. Jesus makes his confession ‘I am’, Peter makes his denial ‘I am not’.
As the cock crows, the sound rams home the truth that Peter is no longer ‘with Jesus’ as he was called to be at the beginning of the gospel.
Jesus’ aloneness is mirrored by Peter’s as he can only weep bitterly at his failure.
Do I see myself anywhere in this upstairs/downstairs scene? Do I draw strength from Jesus’ integrity in being himself despite the consequences? Do I feel sorry for Peter recognizing that I too have travelled the road of denying who I am? Despite my failings do, I feel Jesus still drawing me into his mercy?