Peter Remembers (2 of 3)
Aroused from sleep by the commotion, he and his friends rose, blinded and disoriented by torches and loud voices. Soldiers in great numbers appeared before them, led by an all-too-familiar face. “Judas!” Judas stood at the head of the detachment! Clearing the sleep from his eyes, Peter wondered, “What is Judas doing here? Is this related to the cryptic comments at supper tonight?” Confused, he watched as Judas approached and kissed Jesus. The instant that Judas’s lips met the cheek of the Master, the soldiers withdrew and fell to their knees. Someone was also shouting questions, but Peter did not know what was being said, or even who was speaking. The writing was on the wall, however. This did not look good for any of them. As he tried to make sense of what was happening, the soldiers rose from their prostration and came toward Jesus. Peter did not know what to do at this point, except to fight! Drawing his sword, he lashed out at the high priest. But being a fisherman, and not a swordsman, his blow instead struck the nearby servant of the high priest, slicing off his ear. Quickly, Jesus picked up the severed appendage and reattached it. “Another miracle!” he thought. Then Jesus turned on Peter again—“NO MORE OF THIS!” Jesus rebuked him because he did not understand the purpose of all that had gone on, and of all that was about to transpire, and what it all meant for the world. In fear, shock, humiliation, and sadness, he cowered. And he ran away. They all ran away.
As soon as he realized it was safe, however, he circled back in order to follow the grim procession. He saw Jesus in shackles—bound like a common criminal. This incensed him, yet his fear overwhelmed his sense of justice. Ultimately, he watched as they arrived at the house of the high priest. Peter remained terrified, so he stayed behind in the courtyard, trying to blend in with others who were there. Sitting near the fire, he averted his eyes, attempting to stay anonymous—acting as if he was unconnected to what was transpiring just a few feet away in the house. He watched, unable to hear the proceedings, but able to see the blows, and to recognize the mocking scowls of those who were mistreating Jesus. But it soon turned out that all of his subterfuge had come to naught. He could not maintain his anonymity. “Hey!” said a young girl pointing first at Peter then toward the house where Jesus was, “This man was with HIM!” Realizing that the girl was accusing him, he calmly met her eyes and duly declared his innocence, “No,” he answered, “Never seen him before.” And he continued focusing as intently as possible on the fire, hoping to avoid the curious gazes, and to avoid any further inquiries. While he sat, he glanced furtively toward the window of the house as harsh words were hurled at Jesus, and as fists and canes were brought down forcefully upon him. Peter noted how all of this was received without rancor, and without retaliation. Inside he seethed—partly because of the treatment of his teacher, and partly because of the loathing he felt for himself. He had just made the decision to charge into the house and rescue his friend when a firm hand grabbed him on the shoulder. Turning his head to look at the source of the hand, he saw that it was a large man. The man said accusingly, “You ARE one of them!” Boldly rising and facing this new accuser, Peter replied earnestly, “I AM NOT!”