While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Peter had already disappointed his Lord tonight by sleeping when he should have been watching. But his eyes had been heavy…and Jesus prayed for so long. He would not let Him—his leader, his Lord—be disappointed in him again. Peter would not betray like Judas betrayed—Traitor!
This Traitor entered with kisses and left with the enemy!
“Judas! Judas! What are you here for? What are you doing?”
“No! You can’t drag him away! He has done nothing wrong! What is going on?!”
“My Lord! Where are they taking you?” Nothing. Only cruel jeers and laughter from the soldiers—and probably from the Traitor too.
They are taking him to the High Priest to put him on trial. Those liars will say he is guilty! But He’s not! He’s not guilty of any of those things they accuse him of! I have to find him.
I follow at a distance and make it into the courtyard of the High Priest by becoming one of the crowd of angry followers. By now I am angry too, but not by my Lord, like they are. I am angry about their accusations against him. I am angry about all of my “friends”—Jesus’ followers—who just ran away. What is with them? Don’t they care that Jesus is being arrested? Don’t they care about loyalty?
It is nearly dawn, but the sun still sleeps. I am so cold and tired. I see a fire—and a rock to sit on—nearby. I will wait here. I will wait for my Lord.
Someone is on my left. It is a girl—just a servant—but she is too close. I wish she would give me some space. “Get away!”, I think, but then she speaks:
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she blurts.
Instinctively, I deny it:
“I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about.”
Realizing what I had just done—spoken traitor words—lying words—makes me panic inside and I have to move. I find the gate of the courtyard and hide myself in its shadow. Gaining composure by rationalizing my comments (I was nervous! I wasn’t thinking! I was scared! At least I am here; I didn’t run off like the rest!), I overhear the rude servant girl speak to the others by the fire:
“This fellow is one of them.”
And in my defense, I come out of hiding and yell, “I am not!”
My heart is racing and,though I am chilled, sweat trickles from my forehead. Why does she keep saying that? Why do I keep saying that? What is wrong with me? I will not deny my Lord again.
I hear a distant rooster crow.
Some people by the fire walk over to my now-unhidden hiding place and look at me. By the moon’s light and the glimmer of the far off flames, they perceive that my clothes are not like theirs. My accent also makes me peculiar to them. They speak:
“Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
I feel pressured. They hate me! They have joined forces against me! I must protect myself! Get away from me! You are too close!
“I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”
And the rooster crows a second time.
And I remember.
And I fall to the ground and bury myself in the dust made wet by my tears.
I have also become a traitor—like my Lord said I would.
Oh, Lord! O Lord! I am so sorry. So very sorry. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. What a sinful man I am!
Can you hear me Jesus?
I need you to hear me...and forgive me…and teach me…and love me.
“Peter is paralyzed between the good that he would and the evil that he is.”
“I see this. I recognize this. I cannot divorce myself from this—for Peter’s moral immobilization is mine as well! I am in the courtyards with him, watching. I, too, am good and evil in terribly equal parts—and helpless.”
--taken from “Reliving the Passion” by Walter Wangerin Jr.
…the story continues. Stay tuned for Peter, part three.