By Colleen Donahue

Initially after Jesus' arrest all the disciples fled. But as we'll see, two of the disciples -- John and Peter -- circled round to follow Jesus into the courtyard of the High Priest. John was a well known disciple of Jesus and he was admitted through the gates no doubt with the hopes that after seeing the humiliation of his master he would abandon him and become a testimony against Jesus.

John probably spoke in favor of Peter so that they both got inside the courtyard. Here's where the fellowship between the two men ended. While Jesus is on trial before the Jewish leaders we'll study now what was going on in the arena of the courtyard. This incident has much to teach us today.

Meanwhile ...... Peter

Day 1- Before we focus on what happened to Peter in the courtyard of the high priest let's remember a few things about him. His "call" to follow Jesus was different from John's. John was a youth ready for adventure when Jesus called him. But Peter was older. He had a wife, mother-in-law, and responsibilities.

Peter's home became the base that Jesus used when ministering in Capernaum. In later days Peter took his wife with him as he ministered. (1 Corinthians 9:5). He was a fisherman supporting a family.

Peter loved Jesus and that's why he made the impetuous claim that he did.
Matthew 26: 31-35

Day 2- With all his strength he thought he could stand in the evil day. Peter had a problem that many of us have. He was over confident. What had the Lord shared with his disciples about counting the cost?
Luke 9:62 / Luke 14:25-33

Peter had heard this with his ears but had not really "heard" it with his heart. As an older man he was "mature" in wisdom and strong in body. He could take on the world. But he would soon be tested.

Day 3- Fast forward to the Last Supper. The disciples had come to the feast arguing over who was the greatest. In this attitude of pride none of them (including Peter) would stoop to perform the customary foot washing when coming into a home for a meal. Jesus was the one to bend in this atmosphere of pride. Silently he took the servant's towel and began to wash their feet until he came to Peter. Peter convicted by the Lord's humility was ready to explode and he blurted out with great emphasis....
John 13:6, 8a, 9

Remember the Lord's patient answers.
John 13:7, 8b, 10

Peter's present task was to submit and surrender to the Lord's loving touch and cleansing. In the future he would understand.

Day 4- In Gethsemane Peter really did try to stay awake. But an exhaustion was setting in at seeing Jesus in turmoil and agony. At such a late hour it was an exhaustion he couldn't fight. He was witnessing what seemed to be a conflict between Heaven and Hell itself. The Lord had asked him to watch and pray. But Peter could not. He had not yet learned one important truth about himself.
Romans 7:18

Day 5- When the mob came for Jesus in the garden it was Peter now fully awake and adrenaline pumping that drew his sword to protect Jesus.
John 18:10

Once again his impulsive nature kicked in to act before his mind could even think it through. Jesus that very night made it clear that he must die and that it was the Father's will for him to do so. But Peter could not, and would not hear it. Just as quickly as he had acted in his own strength and limited knowledge Jesus had to firmly set him straight.
John 18:11

And then like fearful, scolded puppies all the disciples (including Peter) did two things.
Mark 14:50

For the second time this night a truth Jesus spoke in the garden was happening.
Matthew 26:41b

Day 6- Peter was torn between fear and love. With all the courage he could muster, along with John, they got themselves into the courtyard of the high priest's home. Here is how it happened.
John 18: 15-16

It was cold and Peter presumptuously took a place around the fire with the mob that had arrested Jesus and were watching in the courtyard. He didn't want to be recognized as a disciple of Jesus and by mingling with the others he thought he could be taken as one of them. By assuming an act of indifference he had placed himself on enemy ground.
Luke 22:55

Day 7- From this position with evil company the lies came forth quickly and with increasing intensity.

A- A servant girl had been studying Peter since he came in. Perhaps she saw his dejected and sad face. She knew John as a servant of Jesus and Peter had come in with John. The first denial wasn't just to the servant girl. She had asked her question before everyone that Peter was sitting around. He denied Jesus before them all and pretended that he didn't know what she was talking about.
Matthew 26:69-70 / Mark 14:66-68

Today if we disguise our faith through dread of suffering and ridicule we are denying our Lord as much as Peter.

B- Clearly agitated, Peter moved away from the fire out to the gateway but temptation followed. He was again amongst a crowd and whether it was the same servant girl or a different one, his denial this time was with greater intensity. What did Peter add to his second lie?
Matthew 26:72

C- Peter was now on center stage. In speaking his lies his Galilean accent was reinforcing the fact that he probably was part of Jesus' little band of disciples from Galilee. How does Peter's third lie intensify?
Matthew 26: 73-74

Note: The word oath has a few meanings and it seems all are in use here.
1. profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger (synonyms are curse, or swear)
2. a commitment to tell the truth
3. a solemn promise, usually invoking a divine witness, regarding your future acts or behavior.

Day 8- What finally stops this series of denials?
Matthew 26:74b-75 / Luke 22:60-62

With the cock's crow Peter suddenly remembers his emphatic boast and the Lord's definite prediction.
Mark 14: 29-31
Worse yet was Jesus' look of deep sorrow and pity as their eyes met.

Peter's heart had been pierced as though an arrow had gone through it. Unable to endure the scene anymore he rushed from the courtyard broken hearted. Matthew and Luke record that he wept bitterly. Picture this giant fisherman broken down in grief and crying his eyes out. He had denied the one he loved not once but three times. The Lord truly does know us more than we know ourselves.

Side note: The good news of the gospel of grace is that we are loved and accepted because we are already sinners. After Peter's denial, weeping, and remorse came repentance, restoration and spiritual renewal. Peter was privileged later in his life with manifesting the ultimate loyalty for the Lord. He died a martyr.

Meanwhile John had taken a place in a quiet corner to watch the trial proceeding. He did not mingle with the rough company reviling his master. He wasn't questioned because he wasn't trying to conceal that he was the Lord's disciple. He wasn't assuming a false character as Peter tried to do.

Peter, before he lied verbally was acting a lie. How? He mingled with the crowd and tried not to show interest in the trial. He could hear the abuse and the cruel taunts of the rough crowd about the Lord but said nothing. To conceal his true feelings of sorrow he endeavored to join in with the persecutors probably with indignation on his face.

When the fruit is squeezed the juice comes out. Peter was being squeezed and he was seeing himself for who he really was. When we are squeezed (under great stress) what is our juice like?

The Progress of Temptation and Sin

Let's step back a moment to see why Peter ended up failing so miserably. It's actually the same sequence that happens to us when we succumb to temptation.

Day 9- Peter was absolutely sure of himself. He had a self-confidence that was based on what he knew of his own strength. In his conceit and self-confidence what did he boast?
Matthew 26:33

A self-confident person doesn't yet know this truth.
Matthew 26:41

You and I might think something similar. "I've been a Christian for years. I'm grounded in the truth. I could never do THAT (fill in the blank)." As you read these verses what clear direction is given to us?
1 Corinthians 10: 12-13

Day 10- Why is it vital that we be self controlled and alert?
1 Peter 5:8

Day 11- Who is a self confident person likened to?
Proverbs 28:26

Day 12- As we look back at what the Lord was warning his disciples in his final days notice the common thread in these verses.
Matthew 24:4, 42-44 / Matthew 25:13 / Matthew 26:38,41

Day 13- Peter, like so many of us, was worn out and tired. The Lord asks the same two questions to us as he did to Peter?
Matthew 26:40,45
How will we answer?
(NOTE: Some versions write verse 45 as a statement rather than the question, "Are you still sleeping?" )

Day 14- Next we see Peter associating with evil people -- the very ones who hated his Lord. In this self-confident, unwatchful and tired state, he thought he could blend in and keep abreast of what was going on with Jesus at his trial.

Had Peter been spiritually wise what would he have suspected and done?
Proverbs 14:16

Day 15- In regards to good and evil what should be our attitude?
Romans 12:9 / 1 Thessalonians 5:22

If that is not our attitude what is almost certain to happen as it did to Peter?
1 Corinthians 15:33

Day 16- When we try to "blend in" with society rather than clearly standing in our position as ambassador of Christ we are forced to live a lie as Peter did. We become people with a "secret faith" that lacks the very essence of faith.
James 2:14

It is what we DO because of our faith that enables the good news of Jesus Christ to be made manifest to men. And so if we don't do what we know is right to do what happens?
James 4:17

Day 17- Sadly, by living a lie, Peter was forced into an attitude of indifference towards Jesus that led him to act contrary to his real convictions. When unexpected temptation came his way (a young servant girl exposing him) Peter fell fast and hard. What is always required of us as long as we live in this world?
2 Peter 3:17

Besides being on guard what is also needed?
Ephesians 6:13

How Do We Get Back on Track?

Day 18- How does someone like Peter -- or us -- get back on track? The apostle John in his old age was given a prophecy for seven churches that existed during his time. He wrote these prophecies down in a book called Revelation. One of these churches, the one in Sardis, was living a lie. Here is what God said about them. "I know your deeds, you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." (Revelation 3:1b).

Then in the next verses, five important directions are given for that church to get back on track. List what they are for it is the same for us today.
Revelation 3:2-3

Let's look at these five things one by one so we can know clearly what they mean.

Day 19- WAKE UP. As you reread these verses make a list for yourself of what it is to be watchful against sin and temptation. Write down all the verbs that tell us to "do" something.
Matthew 26:41 / Acts 20:31 / 1 Corinthians 10:12 / 1 Corinthians 16:13 / Colossians 4:2 / 1 Peter 5:8-9

Day 20- "STRENGTHEN WHAT REMAINS and is about to die." (NIV) How do we do this?
A- Go back to the beginning and do what?
Joshua 24:15 / 1 Timothy 6:12 / Revelation 2:5

B- Keep focused on God's priorities
Matthew 6:33a / 2 Timothy 2:4-7 / James 1:12

C- Recognize the enemy
Ephesians 6:12

D-Put on the armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-17

E-Be a man or woman of prayer
Ephesians 6:18 / Colossians 4:2

Day 21- "REMEMBER what you have received and heard." (NIV) It is human nature to forget. God knew that and told us that we must be watchful not to forget all that God has done for man in history and for us personally today.
Deuteronomy 4:9 / Deuteronomy 6:10-12 / Deuteronomy 8:11-18

Day 22- OBEY. When God gives us instruction, (either directly through His word or in our intuitions) then obedience cannot be optional. To obey will be the price of success with God.
Joshua 1:8

But if we forget God and don't obey, what is promised us?
Deuteronomy 8: 19-20

Day 23- REPENT. To repent is much more than saying, "I'm sorry" to God. It is turning around 180 degrees and walking in the other direction. It is turning our backs to sin and self and then walking towards God.
Acts 3:19

Once again we have the same promise given to us if we don't repent.
Luke 13:3


Day 24 - With the cock's crowing and the sorrowful look by Jesus, Peter woke up and ran out into the darkness. He saw all at once his empty boasting, pride, lack of courage and the sin of denying his Lord. He was devastated.

But Peter saw his shameful act as a wake up call and he went back to the beginning. He remembered Christ's call to him to be a fisher of men. He recommitted his life to the Lord. He repented and obeyed what the Lord had taught him and all the disciples. And when at Pentecost he had become empowered by the Holy Spirit he became the Peter that we know so well today.

A- He had a new wisdom, a new boldness and a new courage.
Acts 2:14-24

B- He became a channel of blessing to many.
Acts 5:15

C- His prayer life became so effective that even the dead could be raised.
Acts 9:40

Day 25- Have you failed the Lord in a miserable way as did Peter? Then go back to when your relationship with God was good and on track. God will help you to remember where you went wrong. And as he shows you these things what does he want you to do?
1 John 1:9

You don't need to be sad and sorrowful for two weeks. You don't need to pray until you feel that God has forgiven you. Instead confess your sin/s and proclaim that because God is faithful and just he has not only forgiven you but he has purified or cleansed you from that sin.

What does it mean that our lives can be purified or cleansed from sin?

Day 26 - First, there is the issue of God needing to forgive sinful acts we have committed. Ultimately all sin is against God.
Psalm 51:4

It is God himself who makes the provision for forgiving our sins.
Psalm 65:3

Atonement (compensation for our sins) originally came through the blood of goats and bulls. But in the fullness of time God sent us Jesus to once and for all take care of our sins. How as this done?
Matthew 26:28

Day 27- While forgiving the acts of sin is the first issue in cleansing, the second is dealing with the stain that is left behind. We are all familiar with spilling something on our clothes. We wash the item and they are clean but.... we still see the stain. So it is with sin. It may be forgiven but there are still the lingering consequences and memories.

Notice in these verses God color codes sin's stain before and after cleansing. What two colors does he mention?
Isaiah 1:18

How does God produce the color change?
Revelation 7:14

Day 28- So it is for us today that the blood of Jesus not only causes God to forgive us from the acts of sin but it changes our "red to white". What does this forgiveness and cleaning allow us to do?
Hebrews 9:14

Note: This is important for us to understand especially if we feel we could never be good enough to serve God again. It has nothing to do with our being good enough. We are eligible to serve God if our sins are forgiven and our stains removed. None of this can be done by you. All has been done in Jesus. We stand on the fact of this and this makes us eligible to serve the living God.

We are blessed today to live in the days of the New Covenant. After Christ's death and resurrection., Peter was stuck on the edge. Jesus was about to die in a few hours but for Peter those hours were the longest hours in history. His acts of denial were not only unthinkable sins but they left a terrible stain on his life. They were visible to all the other disciples, visible to himself and visible to God. Thus we can understand more truly his despair and the words recorded in Matthew 26:75b -- "And he went outside and wept bitterly."

As we saw in day 24, this was not the end of the story. Peter's "red was turned to white" and he went on to serve his master faithfully. In the end he was privileged to die for him and stands as a great encouragement to all of us who have failed our Lord in anyway today.

Next Study: MPGC#16

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