John 18:15-18

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. "You aren't one of this man's disciples too, are you?" she asked Peter. He replied, "I am not." It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

In this passage, the spotlight shifts from Jesus to Peter. After Jesus' arrest, Peter and another disciple follow him to the high priest's courtyard. This other disciple, who is not named, is known to the high priest and can enter the courtyard. But Peter is left outside.

Peter is allowed in when the other disciple comes back and speaks to the servant girl on duty. But immediately, he faces a challenge. The servant girl asks him, "You aren't one of this man's disciples too, are you?"

It's a direct question, and it puts Peter on the spot. Just hours earlier, he had boldly declared his readiness to die with Jesus. But now, in the face of a servant girl's question, he denies even being Jesus' disciple. "I am not," he says.

It's the first of three denials that Jesus had predicted. Peter, the rock, the leader of the disciples, crumbles under the pressure of association with Jesus.

The scene then shifts to the courtyard, where the servants and officials are warming themselves around a fire. It's a cold night, and Peter joins them, trying to blend in, to go unnoticed.

There's a poignant irony here. Peter is warming himself by the fire of those who have arrested Jesus. He's seeking comfort and anonymity among those who oppose his Lord.

As we reflect on this passage, we're confronted with the fragility of human courage and commitment. Peter's failure reminds us of our own weakness and how easily we can deny or distance ourselves from Jesus when the pressure is on.

But we're also reminded of Jesus' love and grace. Even knowing that Peter would deny him, Jesus had still prayed for him and had still entrusted him with leadership. Jesus’ love for Peter was not based on Peter’s performance but on his own sovereign choice and grace.

This passage also challenges us to consider our own associations and compromises. Are there times when we seek warmth and comfort in the company of those who oppose Christ? Do we sometimes try to blend in, to avoid being identified as Jesus' disciples?

May we, even in our weakness, be strengthened by the love and grace of Christ, and may we have the courage to stand for him, no matter the cost.

God bless you.

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