I continue my encounters with Peter in the gospel of Mark, and use two Biblical passages to enter a little deeply into that picture of Peter. They are the passages announcing Peter’s denial and the scene of the denial of Peter.
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” 30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today-yes, tonight-before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” 31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. 68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway (Just then, a rooster crowed). 69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” 72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Some of my observations are
- Jesus says that all the disciples will forsake him. But there is also a promise of resurrection and gathering back of disciples.
- Peter emphatically says that he won’t do even if others do. (Interestingly Peter doesn’t hear the promise. He is only focused on the first part of everybody forsaking Jesus)
- Jesus is giving a very descriptive prophecy of the denial of Peter.
- Peter emphatically counters it and he has the courage/guts to say that he is ready to die with him. Others repeat what Peter says. (Whether Peter realized the complete worth of what he uttered is a question).
- Though from far, Peter is ready to follow Jesus as he begins the journey of passion(this is interesting; he may not have accepted the full meaning of a suffering Messiah; still he takes a risk to be with the group of people warming themselves).
- One servant sees him, observes closely and makes a judgement on him which he denies. A rooster crowed, probably it hasn’t caught his attention or he has still not reached his senses.
- The same servant repeats the question and he further refutes it.
- Now the crowd asks the question. Here he curses himself and refutes enigmatically. If you read with some sayings of Jesus, the situation of Peter is very bad. He did an extremely terrible thing.
- The rooster crowed the second time and this time, he heard it (or understood the prophecy of Jesus)
- Peter cried. (That was an action of repentance/realization; it may not have yet created the wonderful, fearful disciple called Peter, but it might be a beginning). Interestingly this is the last action of Peter in the shorter version of Mark. In the longer version, there is a mention of the disciples eating and Jesus scolding them for their unfaith.
- Some sort of rehabilitation is given to Peter (and to the reader) in Mark 16:7, when his name is explicitly mentioned.
But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’
A reader (many may not identify with the terrible actions of Peter, but with that attitude of struggles and difficulties in the spiritual life) is invited to continue from the scene of crying Peter, with the real promise of rehabilitation (Mk 16:7) hanging there as horizon/star, to live the life of a follower of Jesus.