27 March 2013

Luke 22:54-71

“The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” (vv. 61-62)


In this passage, set in the early hours of the day of Jesus' crucifixion, we are told of two parallel trials. The first was the trial of Peter in the courtyard of the High Priest's house (verses 54-61). The second was the trial of Jesus before the Council of elders (verses 66-71).

Jesus was surrounded by very important accusers, but stood up to them and answered their charges. He was in genuine danger of his life. Jesus answered the questions the elders asked and told the truth. By contrast, Peter was surrounded by servants who were gathered around a fire for warmth. There was no hint that his life was in danger, yet he evaded the questions and denied knowing Jesus. Peter became an enemy of the truth.


Peter learnt a very harsh lesson that morning: following Jesus is very costly and dangerous. The Peter we meet in this passage was a shadow of his former self: he promised so much, but when the moment came for him to stand up bravely for Jesus he denied he even knew him.

Peter failed Jesus in the courtyard, but his actions remind us of what extraordinary authority Jesus had given to such a fragile man. Peter was the rock on which Jesus built his Church (Matthew 16:18). This was a very important reminder that Jesus had chosen Peter knowing that leadership of the Church was built on the authority of a frail human being who was capable of great acts in the name of God, but who also made mistakes.

Peter was not a coward, he wept bitterly when he met Jesus' eyes. But then he carried on with the mission Jesus had entrusted to him.

To Ponder

  • Why do you think Peter went to the courtyard of the High Priest's house?
  • How do you think Peter would have been dealt with by today's media?

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.