Betrayed, Arrested, and Denied
Judas walked into the Garden of Gethsemane leading a large crowd of soldiers and religious leaders. “Hello, Teacher,” he said, as he greeted Jesus with a kiss. Judas had arranged this signal to identify the man the soldiers were to arrest. “Judas, are you betraying the Messiah with a kiss?” Jesus questioned. Then he turned to the soldiers. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he!” Jesus replied. His statement was filled with such power and glory that the soldiers fell backward onto the ground. As they picked themselves up, Jesus asked again, “Who are you looking for?” Again, they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” “I told you that I am he,” Jesus repeated. This time he let the soldiers step forward. They grabbed him and arrested him. When Peter realized what was happening, he pulled out his sword and attacked one of the high priest’s servants, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword away,” Jesus instructed. “I could call on my Father, and He would send an army of angels to help me. But this is what must take place for the Scriptures to be fulfilled.” Then Jesus touched the servant’s ear and healed it. During the next moments, the disciples all fled. But Peter wanted to see what was happening, so he followed along from a distance. At one point he trailed the crowd into the courtyard of the high priest. It was a cold night, and the guards who had arrested Jesus were sitting around a fire. Peter joined them. A servant girl noticed him. “I recognize you,” she said. “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?” Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he responded shaking his head. He got up and stood in the entryway. It wasn’t long before another servant girl recognized him. She pointed him out to the others and said, “I know this fellow. He was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again, Peter denied it swearing with an oath, “I don’t even know him!” A little while later, others who were standing around went up to Peter and said “Surely you must be one of the disciples. Your accent gives you away. You are from Galilee.” One of the high priest’s servants, who was related to the man whose ear Peter had cut off, also challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” Peter vehemently denied it. He swore, “I don’t know this man you are talking about!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Peter remembered that Jesus had said, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Jesus turned from where he was being held and looked straight at Peter. Peter went outside and broke down. He wept bitterly.
What could turn a courageous warrior, who was ready to fight off guards with a tiny sword, into a coward who denied that he even knew Jesus? Instead of staying beside Jesus, Peter bailed. He ended up alone with the wrong crowd of people, and they intimidated him! When we don’t stay close to Jesus, we can quickly end up in the wrong crowd. At that point, we can easily be intimidated into pretending we don’t even know him.