Standing Up for Jesus: Mark 14:66-72

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While Jesus was being tried in the religious court, Peter is outside warming himself by the fire. Even though He and the other disciples scattered and left Jesus to be arrested, Peter is one disciple who wants to know firsthand what the results of this trial will be. Peter knew Jesus had sidestepped every other encounter with the religious leaders, and I wonder if he wants to be an early witness of one more brilliant evasive maneuver that Peter knows Jesus is capable of.

However, this also sets Peter up for what he feared the most, and that fear was letting Jesus down. Let’s read about what happens.

Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 14, and we will be reading from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 66, Mark describes the scene to us:

66 As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch. 69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” 71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.

In this passage, all Peter wanted to do was be close to Jesus while also being anonymous. Peter wanted to be present if Jesus needed him, but otherwise, he wanted to remain unknown.

However, a perceptive servant-girl speaks up and blows his cover. Whether this servant-girl was with the crowd and soldiers who went to arrest Jesus, or whether she happened to have seen Peter with Jesus at some point earlier in the week when Jesus was teaching and preaching in the temple, we see in this passage, that Peter could not escape being recognized for His presence with Jesus.

It’s quite possible that many of the crowd that Peter was mingling with were among those who were part of the crowd that had arrested Jesus. Peter’s outburst with the sword during Jesus’ arrest would be enough to single him out in the memory of those present. However, it was dark out, and perhaps not many people were able to see Peter clearly enough to recognize him at first.

In this passage, in spite of Peter’s big declaration the previous evening that he would never deny Jesus, we discover that Jesus’ prediction rings true regardless of how insistently Peter denied Jesus’ words to the contrary.

However, Peter’s big failure in this passage gives us hope. It is likely we are not as arrogant as Peter was. Someone who had walked with Jesus for over three years and who knew all about Him was the only one who we clearly read about openly denying Jesus. The rest of the disciples deserted Jesus, but Peter is the only one who denied knowing Him.

In our own lives, while we walk with Jesus in a spiritual sense, we walk by faith. God has called us to be His representatives in the world we live in. When people ask whether we know Jesus, it might be easy to simply minimize our connection to Him, but the easy path leads us to regret.

When Peter realized that Jesus’ words came true, and that he had denied Him the three times, it breaks Peter’s heart. Peter regretted his mistakes and his denials. If we deny Jesus when we know Him and claim to follow Him, we walk Peter’s path of regret.

It’s hard to say if Peter’s fear of being recognized would have been realized if those present knew he had been with Jesus. Peter’s fear was that he would be pulled in and put on trial next to Jesus.

In an interesting way, this is also the fear many of us face today. If others know we love, follow, and believe in Jesus, will they ridicule us and make fun of us? Will we be laughed at or abused by others because of our belief?

Sometimes, our fears describe an illusion. Sometimes we can say these fears are simply false evidence that appears real. However, other times, our fears may be realized. Sometimes standing up for Jesus does mean that we lose something in the present world.

However, when we stand up for Jesus in this life, we gain much more than we lose. If we stand up for Jesus and we lose friends, we can look forward to the promise of new and better friends in the future. If we stand up for Jesus and lose family, God has promised us a new family – His family, that He adopts us into. If we stand up for Jesus and lose our lives, nothing worse can happen. Instead, when we lose our lives for Jesus in this world, we gain eternal life in the next one. And given the choice between life in a sinful world or a sinless one, always pick the world and life without sin!

Denying Jesus is never the right choice. Denying Jesus leads to regret. However, when we deny Jesus, we can still turn back to Him and experience forgiveness. When we fail God, He doesn’t fail or reject us. Instead, He’s standing with open arms waiting for us to repent and turn back to Him! Our failures are opportunities to experience God’s forgiveness.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and declare your allegiance to Him. When faced with the choice to acknowledge or deny Jesus, always choose to share your connection with Him. Telling people you love, believe, and have faith in Jesus is never the wrong choice from eternity’s perspective!

Also, always be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to keep your personal connection with God strong. While other people can give you ideas to think about, filter these ideas through the truth of God’s Word. Never let anyone discount, belittle, or shake your connection with God!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 36: Peter faced regret when realizing he had denied Jesus exactly how Jesus had predicted. Learn how we can avoid making the same mistake and also that if we stumble and fall, God is willing to accept us back.

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