The Plot Thickens


“Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

“‘You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?’ she asked Peter. He replied, ‘I am not.’ It was cold and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter was also standing with them, warming himself.'” John 18:15-18 NIV.

Although John did not refer to the scattering of the disciples after Jesus’ arrest, as Jesus had predicted, at this point he and Peter followed as closely as they dared. John mentioned “another disciple” who was “known to the high priest”. As with the “disciple whom Jesus loved”, he was probably referring to himself. He had some sort of connection to the high priest — perhaps he was familiar with a member or members of his household — and gained easy entrance to the courtyard, but Peter had to stay outside the gate until John tipped off one of the servant girls who let him in.

While Jesus was being interrogated by Annas inside the palace, another interrogation was going on in the courtyard — Peter, confronted by a servant girl! What a contrast! Jesus was facing the most powerful man in the Jewish nation and doing it with dignity and control. In spite of being bound and guarded, He was free — free from guilt and fear, free to walk away any time He wanted to as He had done on many occasions in the past; but also free to remain a prisoner facing death because He chose to. He was not the one on trial. Annas was!

Peter was not a prisoner; he was free to walk away from that scene. He had no ropes around his wrists, no soldiers watching his every move, but he might has well have been chained to one of them because he was held captive by his fear. Who was the servant girl anyway? What power or influence did she have? Was Peter on trial before her? Of course not, and yet, in a moment of panic, Peter denied any association with Jesus.

The girl must have known that John was a disciple of Jesus. Perhaps John had visited some of the servants more than once. They knew who he was and who he was following. He was in no danger of being arrested. Peter was his companion, hence the question, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” Why would Peter think he was in any danger? Yet he weakened and dissociated himself from Jesus rather than risk exposure to any “trigger-happy” soldier!

Perhaps he was not as afraid of the servant girl whose bold question was put to him in the company of people John called “officials”, standing around the fire to warm themselves, but rather the company he was in at that moment. Not a good place to be, Peter! It was difficult for him to remain unnoticed amongst a group who obviously knew each other and were probably talking among themselves about what was going on inside the high priest’s palace. Then the silly servant girl had to go and deliberately draw attention to him.

Just as Jesus had predicted only a few hours before, Peter was being sifted like wheat and he, who thought he had the courage of a lion, crumpled before a servant girl, stung by her contempt in the presence of a few other unnamed people. But John wasn’t finished with Peter yet. There was more to come.

“Meanwhile the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching.” John 18:19 NIV.

In the meantime, while Peter’s ordeal was continuing in the courtyard, inside the palace, Annas was squeezing Jesus even tighter, like an anaconda with its coils around its victim. He was probing for clues to His intention. Was He planning an uprising? How many followers did He have? Judging by the crowd that followed Him when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, He might have trained a secret army. The Pharisees had said, “Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” John 12:19b NIV. Were the people loyal enough to support Him in a revolt against Rome? What was He teaching them? Was He secretly instructing them on His strategy when He made His move?


Luella Campbell

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