Our lesson this week picks up right where we left off in our recent lesson – Jesus’ Arrest.  Jesus has been arrested and He is being taken to face His ‘trial’ and ‘judgment’ by man.  As we saw in our lesson last week, we are going to see two opposite actions through both Peter who was facing accusations and Jesus who was on trial.  Again, our goal is to imitate and follow the example of Christ while also learning from what we will see Peter do.  This week’s lesson is being taught from John 18:15-27.

Peter and John Follows Behind

Our lesson opens this week with Peter and “another disciple” following Jesus after He had been arrested (v.15).  We are told in the opening verse of our lesson that this other disciple was known to the high priest, and was able to go with Jesus into the courtyard.

John, the ‘other’ disciple

Now, this other disciple, I want you to know right away is John himself.  John never really mentions himself by name in his own gospel.  Yet, there are major hints that confirm that this other disciple is in fact John himself.  For example, elsewhere in this gospel, John writes about how this other disciple and Peter ran to the empty tomb of Jesus on the day of His resurrection (John 20:2-10).  

That passage of scripture does not necessarily tell us that this other disciple was John, but if we turn over to the last chapter of this gospel, we will see that John finally states that he was the other disciple.  Peter and Jesus had been having a conversation that involved Peter turning to look at the disciple whom Jesus loved and asking what would happen to him.  Jesus spoke to Peter about the other disciple and then John confirmed that the other disciple was him.  John stated, “This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things (the things written in this gospel); and we know that his testimony is true (John 21:24-25).”

I wanted to share this bit of information with you so that you can have an understanding of who the other disciple was that is being spoken of in this passage of scripture for our lesson today.  John was known by the high priest and was let into the courtyard by the high priest to witness the ‘trial’ of Jesus.  Peter, on the other hand, was not known by the high priest, and we are told that John had to get him let in by the door keeper (v. 16).

Peter’s first denial of Christ

John, it seems, was well known in Jerusalem whereas Peter was not known well enough.  So, I don’t believe John was necessarily afraid or even trying to hide himself in the crowd while following behind Jesus.  Peter, on the other hand, I believe was sweating bullets!  For Peter, we could consider that this was like going into a room full of strangers.  

There are many people who feel comfortable going into a room filled with strangers.  Yet, there are several other people who are simply not comfortable with going into a room filled with strangers.  We can actually use this thought when it comes to ministering the gospel, right?  Some of us are able to minister to certain people/groups where others might not be able to do so.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this because all of us have different gifts and with those gifts, we can reach out to different people.

As Peter comes into the courtyard, we will see the door keeper take notice of Peter and recognize him as one of the close followers of Christ.  She asks Peter if he was one of Jesus’ disciples (v.17).  What’s interesting about this is that she doesn’t ask John this question, but chooses to ask Peter.  Might I suggest to you that this woman probably knew that John was a disciple of Jesus?  Again, John was known in this circle of people whereas Peter was not so well known.

So, again, John was unafraid and was not trying to hide himself.  Whereas, Peter was very fearful; he had just witnessed Jesus be arrested and likely feared that the same would happen to him.  What’s even more peculiar about Peter’s thoughts here is that the men that arrested Jesus had just led Jesus into the courtyard; so, they likely would have recognized Peter anyway!  

To me, it seems to me that the detachment of troops were honoring their word as they let the disciples go.  So, I don’t believe that Peter was necessarily facing much danger, even after chopping off the ear of Malchus.  But fear can put us in a very paranoid state and that’s the frame of mind that I believe Peter was operating in – paranoia.  So, in paranoia, instead of faith, we will see Peter respond to her, “I am not,” and then he goes to stand by the fire (v.18).

Jesus standing firm

While Peter stood at the fire trying to hide himself, I believe John moved in closer to hear what was going on at Jesus’ ‘trial’.  John was not necessarily moving with the same paranoia as Peter.  In fact, John was there at the cross with Mary as Jesus hung on the cross.

Now, John does not necessarily point this out in his gospel, as covered in the other synoptic gospels, but Jesus faced the high priest, the Sanhedrin, and then Pilate in succession.  Jesus was put on ‘trial’ over a relatively short period of time.  I keep saying trial lightly here because this was no fair trial for Jesus as the religious leaders already had their judgment determined to kill Jesus.

John writes that the high priest asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine (v.19).  I want to point out to you again this week that Jesus was facing a very hostile crowd of people that hated Him and desired that He be put to death.  Yet, I want you to pay very close attention again this week to the dignity that Jesus spoke with while facing such hostility and hate from the high priest.

Jesus does not hide that He taught His doctrine and that He did so publicly (vss.20-21).  Of course Jesus had no shame in ministering the word of His Father!  So, Jesus stands firm and does not hide or lie about this fact.  As genuine believers, we should have no shame in ministering the gospel of God.  Why should we be ashamed of ministering the truth?  Others may mock us or despise us but we should stand steadfast when it comes to our faith and in ministering the gospel of God.

Jesus’ response was not well received by those in the palace.  We are told that one of the officers slapped Jesus, and questioned the manner in which Jesus answered the high priest.  What was wrong with Jesus’ response?  Nothing was wrong with Jesus’ response as they are unable to even point out the error of Jesus’ response to Him  (v.23).  The simple fact is that those that are of the world do not take kindly to hearing the truth and just as Jesus said, they despise this truth (John 15:18-25).

Peter’s Denials Continue

So, on one end of the spectrum we see Jesus standing firm while on the other end, Peter’s fear and paranoia is still driving him to deny Christ.

As the scene shifts back to Peter, we see him still standing out in the courtyard warming himself by the fire.  As he is standing there, people are still recognizing him as one of Jesus’ closest followers and asking him about it (v.25).  Honestly, what is very fascinating to me is that this trial was essentially taking place in the middle of the night to early morning hours.  So, I believe, very few people would even be awake compared to if this was taking place in the middle of the afternoon.

So, we could imagine that there was likely a small gathering in the courtyard along with those that were guards.  Yet, Peter’s fear and paranoia was at an extraordinarily high level because he was likely in great fear of being arrested himself.  As we will recall, Jesus taught us that when our hearts are troubled, we should lean into our faith and not be dismayed.  Peter was thinking about preserving his life rather than leaning on his faith.  

Honestly, I can’t say that I would have done any differently if I was in his shoes but there certainly is a lesson here for us to learn from Peter’s denials.  As we see, Peter denied being a follower of Christ for a second time.

No reason to fear

After this denial, we are told that a very interesting person came forward to ask if Peter was a follower of Christ.  We are told that one of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter had cut off, which was Malchus (John 18:10), came and asked if Peter was a follower of Christ.  This relative of Malchus tells Peter that he was there in the garden to see Peter with Jesus!  So, the relative of Malchus saw Peter cut off Malchus’ ear and he would have definitely had a great memory of exactly what Peter looked like!

The point I am trying to make here is that there was simply no reason for Peter to be denying Jesus at this point.  At this point, if Peter was truly in any danger, he would have already been apprehended on reasonable suspicion alone!  Yet, Peter, the man who said he would never deny Christ, denied Him for a third time (v.27).

Let me say this today, I can certainly understand that Peter was just trying to preserve his life.  Yet, I must also tell you that though he may have been trying to preserve his life by doubting that he was a follower of Jesus, Peter was actually coming off as being ashamed of Jesus.  You have no reason to ever be ashamed of being a follower of Christ.  

Yes, there are going to be many people that mock you because of your faith and even despise you of your faith.  However, I encourage you to remember all that the Lord has done for you and what He has brought you through!  God truly has saved us through His only begotten Son.  Through Christ, you and I both have salvation and have overcome this world.  So, never be shameful of Christ and never be afraid to tell someone you are a follower of Christ.

In fact, I tell you from my own personal experience that there are several times that when we admit that we are a follower of Christ, it becomes something that is admired by others.  I have had several people, whether believer or non-believer, tell me how they admire me in my walk of faith and wish/desire that they could have the faith in God that I have.  I am absolutely certain that you have many people who admire your faith in the Lord as well.  So, never be ashamed to tell someone you are a follower of Christ.  Continue to put your faith in the hands of God and continue to stand firm in His mighty hands.


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