Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”
But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.
When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again.
A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”
Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.
Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.
Caiaphas’s house, where Jesus was tried (Mark 14:53), was part of a huge palace with several courtyards. John was apparently acquainted with the high priest, and he was let into the courtyard along with Peter (John 18:15-16).
The disciple who swore he’d never desert Jesus—“Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will” (Mark 14:29)—promptly denies Jesus out of fear of being arrested with him. Peter’s curse was more than just a common swear word. He was making the strongest denial he could think of by denying with an oath that he knew Jesus. He was saying, in effect, “May God strike me dead if I’m lying.” His heart was filled with remorse afterward.
While most of us may not be like the Jewish and Roman leaders, we are like the disciples because all of us have been guilty of denying Christ as Lord in vital areas of our lives. We may pride ourselves that we have not committed certain sins, but we are all guilty of sin.
Sometimes we deny Jesus by remaining silent about our Christianity or by trying to fit in with a specific group. We can also deny him by the way we treat others—with unkindness, prejudice, or indifference. Sadly, we keep running, fearing that he’ll point the finger of condemnation at us. Have you denied Jesus? Stop running. Condemnation is the enemy’s tactic. Jesus waits to restore you in love and mercy.