Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Peter's Denial

In 'Plotting' I wrote about Judas' betrayal of Jesus. He wasn't the only one to let Jesus down when he most needed his close friends. When Jesus was arrested by the Temple guard most of the disciples deserted him, in fear of their lives. Peter and another disciple were more courageous and followed Jesus as he was dragged to the house of Caiphas the high priest. 


Earlier that evening Peter boasted he was ready to go with Jesus to prison and death. Jesus predicted that before the cock crowed that day Peter would have 3 times denied knowing him.



We remember Peter as much for his mistakes as for his great leadership qualities. The golden cockerel on the top of the magnificent church of St Peter in Gallicantu  on Mount Zion in Jerusalem is a permanent memorial to Peter's worst mistake. This church is built on the traditional site of the house of Caiaphas.


Outside the church is a statue. It shows Peter sitting by the fire in the courtyard where a servant girl said he too had been with Jesus. Peter denied it. Then another person made the same accusation. Peter denied it again. Then a 3rd person insisted "Surely, this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean". Peter replied, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about."


At that moment the cock crowed. Luke records that when the cock crowed "the Lord turned and looked at Peter".

Peter remembered what Jesus had said and "he went out and wept bitterly".













Near the church is a flight of ancient stone steps, possibly the very steps used by Jesus and the disciples when they out from supper to the Mount of Olives earlier that evening.

Perhaps Peter used this route when he went out to weep after his denial. Who knows?



On a wall beside the steps is a plaque with the words of Luke 22: 61 in English and German, with the suggestion that Jesus now looks at us.
  • What will he see?
  • How do we deny him?






Photos: my own.


This post is the 43rd in a series of daily Lenten reflections based on a Bible reading from the Common Worship Lectionary of the Church of England. This one is based on Luke 22: 54 - end.

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