MARK 14:53-72 (NIV – UK)
Jesus before the Sanhedrin
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.”’ 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’
62 ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
63 The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. 64 ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.
Peter disowns Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When 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 entrance.
69 When the servant-girl saw him there, she said again to those standing round them, ‘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 cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.
Just as Jesus predicted, Peter disowns Jesus (v. 66-72). Peter saw that he might be in danger if he admitted to being one of Jesus’ followers – so he denies knowing Jesus.
All over the world Christians are persecuted for admitting to being followers of Jesus – even that means jail or even death. In the west we are relatively comfortable – we don’t have to face such violent physical persecution. There may be times, however, that we might feel mistreated or verbally abused for following Jesus. Maybe it’s even more subtle than that – someone deciding not to speak to you or making jokes at your expense. On those occasions it can still be tempting to just pretend not to follow Jesus at all – maybe passively by just not speaking about Jesus – or maybe more intentionally by denying being a Christian, or playing down your faith in Jesus.
Now Peter recovers from his experience here and goes on to preach about Jesus openly and publicly in the Book of Acts – but what we must not forget is Peter’s reaction to his denial of Jesus: ‘And he broke down and wept’ (v. 72). Peter was distraught that he had denied his Lord and Saviour. He was sure not to make the same mistake again – in 64AD he was executed for being a follower of Jesus.
Question: Have you ever found it tempting to hide that you are a follower of Jesus? How did it make you feel?