Continuing our simple Sunday reflections in the Gospel of Mark. This week Peter’s moment of doubt, failure and pain.
While Jesus faces derision and judgement, Peter experiences his own ‘trial’. The servant girl’s description of Jesus as ‘that Nazarene’ sounds scornful. To be associated with this Messianic failure was to be linked to blasphemy and death.
Peter denies the relationship more and more vehemently. Do you notice how he even avoids saying Jesus’ name? The ‘calling down curses’ has the sense of cursing himself if he is lying and cursing his accusers if they are falsely accusing him. He is in every sense doing exactly what Jesus predicted. And even more he is doing what Jesus talked of in Mark 8
38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Peter is probably the prime source for this narrative. Its central position in the passion narrative speaks volumes for the authenticity of the Gospels’ accounts. But more than this, it forms a climax to the disciples’ faltering belief and trust in Jesus from Gethsemane onwards.
So what does Peter’s failure say to the readers of Mark’s Gospel and to you and me today?
Perhaps it challenges believers to hold fast in trust and faith in Jesus whatever the circumstances
And, as later events will show, it speaks of profound hope into the reality of human fear, self-protection and even self-loathing. The church is a place for failures like Peter, like you and like me. For it is into that failure that Jesus will speak words of forgiveness and restoration as we turn to him in repentance and sorrow. The need for honesty and confession are what ‘hit’ me from this text. What ‘hits’ you?
Peter Disowns Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 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.”
71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
72 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.