It was probably the lowest point in Peter's life. It was very late, near dawn and a lot of things had happened, unbelievable things. Jesus had been arrested, mocked, beaten and suffered all this silently. Surely, Peter thought, He would save himself but He did not. Now they were shouting for His death.
Peter was confused, in a state of shock and very tired. Even now he feared for his own life. Satan watches for these weak moments in order that temptation might have a better effect. It's true that the Lord had told them over and again that He would be betrayed and condemned to death, delivered to the Gentiles to scourge and crucify. But the third day He would rise again. (Matt 20:17-19) It was very plain language though for some reason it was not understood. Perhaps they thought He was still speaking in parables.
Peter sat with some of the servants within the palace belonging to Caiaphas, the High Priest. A maid who watched the door saw him, came near and said, "You were one of them with Jesus of Galilee." Peter denied saying he didn't know what she was talking about. All those nearby heard so he withdrew to the outer porch. Another maid made the same accusation. Again a denial and this time with an oath. It is a terrible thing to deny the Lord. (Matt 10:33)
About an hour later (Luke 22:59) another man stated affirmatively, "Of a truth, this fellow was with Him for his speech is Galilean." Surely now, everyone would know and Peter too would be arrested. He began to curse and swear saying, "I know not the man!" Immediately the rooster crowed. Then he remembered the words of Jesus that "Before the cock crew, thou shalt deny me thrice." Jesus was nearby for He, at that moment, turned and looked at Peter. And so he went out and wept bitterly. It was the dawn of Friday.
Now this is the question! Who was this third person that accused Peter? John 18:26 says he was the kinsman of Malchus. This was the man whose ear Peter had cut off. Now this relative of Malchus, (brother, cousin, uncle) also a servant of the High Priest, says, "I saw you in the garden with Him." With the commotion that followed the severing of the ear he would have seen it all and now he stands face to face with the man who had assaulted a family member.
How did he feel toward Peter? What was his motive for this 3rd charge against him? Perhaps when he saw the miracle as the ear was restored, he wanted to know more about this Jesus who was now on trial. But Peter said, "I know not the man."
We are told that at a social gathering, there are two things that should never be discussed. One is politics. The other is religion. Unfortunately, many treat this as a rule. Every time we are in the presence of those who are lost, we have an opportunity to share our hope of eternity.
It's true that some, maybe most, do not want this information. They prefer to remain blind less their eyes be opened and they see the truth. (Matt 13:15) Caiaphas thought putting Jesus and Lazarus to death would forever end the public disturbance over this matter. And what did Caiaphas think when he saw Malchus, his servant, standing there with bloodstains all over his right shoulder? Seeing the ear unharmed, the High Priest himself would be in his own state of denial.
It is difficult to understand how those who saw and heard Jesus and witnessed the miracles He did, could walk away unbelieving. But it happened. And yes, those who refuse to hear us today have the same hard hearts as those in the first century and would not believe even if Jesus spoke to them face to face.
And what about this Malchus? Did he believe? What conversation did he have with his kinsman who accused Peter? Both were in the garden at the time of the arrest. And they would have accompanied Jesus and the soldiers as they brought Him back to the palace of Caiaphas. Was he even now in the group where Peter sat and watched? What a story he would have to tell the remainder of his life.
We also have a wonderful story to tell. If we remain silent when we have the opportunity to teach someone about Jesus, we could by our actions be saying, "I know not the man!"
Millstadt, IL 62260
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