Tuesday of Holy Week
Scripture: St. John 18:19-40 (NKJV)
18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.
20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?” 24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said, “I am not!”
26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”
30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”
31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”
Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all. 39 But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Peter’s denial is one of the saddest sins recorded in Scripture. Peter’s faith had led him to confess Christ as the Son of the living God who has the words of eternal life. He even says in Mark 14:31, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Yet here he is, confessing the very opposite of what he had so often spoken. It is a grievous sin to deny Christ. St. Luke writes that after this “the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61). Luke also tells us that after this Peter went away and wept bitterly. He immediately saw his sin and surely remembered Christ’s words, “whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33).
Peter’s denial is written for our learning. Even as Christians we daily sin, and there even times when we sin grievously against our conscience. Peter’s example is given so that we see first, that if Peter can so easily sin this way, we should be on guard against such sin. Second, Peter’s example is given to us that we see what true repentance looks like. Whenever we realize we’ve sinned, we should sorrow over our sin, repenting, and then believe Christ’s word, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matt. 9:13). No matter your sin, and no matter how you fell into it, repent of it, confess it to your heavenly Father, and take heart, certain that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).
We pray: Almighty and everlasting God, grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion that we may obtain the pardon of our sins. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.