The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 14G

Chapter 14:66-72

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  • Last week, we covered the first two religious trials that took place in the early morning.

    • The first trial was initiated by Annas, the Father-in-Law of Caiaphas.

      • It was this trial that could be seen as a personal vendetta against the Lord Jesus.

      • Within this first trial, we witnessed not only several illegalities in the proceeding but that Annas walked away with no verdict.

    • The second trial was followed by Caiaphas leading the charge forward by seeking to establish frivolous witnesses to testify against Jesus.

      • Not only were the witnesses’ testimonies false, but none of them were lining up to present a positive witness to indict Jesus before the council.

      • This reality shed light on the fact that there were no grounds by which the religious leaders could lawfully find Jesus guilty and proved even more how unlawful these proceedings were.

      • Furthermore, we discovered that evil seeks any means to distort true justice and to establish “relative truth” as the foundation of all truth.

    • Lastly, we discussed that Peter had a brief cameo appearance at the scene of the trial in the courtyard (v.54), however after that, it is as if the scene spotlight shifts back to Jesus and the trial at hand.

      • Tonight, we now see that the spotlight shifts back to Peter where Mark gives the reader a peek inside the reality that Jesus spoke to Peter not too long ago.

      • This early morning scene would be where the outspoken, self-confident, and unrelenting Peter would now face the reality of the very words Jesus told him would happen – Peter would deny Jesus, three times.

      • As we will see, these denials although personal to Peter will shed light for every believer of the danger of self-confidence, the pain of denial, and the beauty of the strength and grace found in Christ.

    • Our outline for tonight will be the following:

      • 1. Peter’s First Denial (v.66-68)

      • 2. Peter’s Second and Third Denial (v.69-71)

      • 3. Peter Weeps (v.72)

      • 4. The Third Religious Trial (Mark 15:1)

    • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text it would be, The Pain of Denial.

      • With that being said, I invite you to meet me in Mark 14:66 - Mark 15:1.

Mark 14:66  As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest *came, 
Mark 14:67  and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and *said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” 
Mark 14:68  But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch. 
Mark 14:69  The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 
Mark 14:70  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.” 
Mark 14:71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 
Mark 14:72   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.
Mark 15:1 Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate.

(Re-read v.66-68)

  • As I mentioned earlier, we now arrive at the section of Mark where verse 54 left off.

    • It is as if the spotlight shifted from the trial of Jesus to the trial and temptation of the Apostle Peter.

      • Where we witnessed Jesus take on the unfair miscarriage of Justice in the courtyard of the high priest, we now find Peter in a trial within himself which will either lead to remaining firm in Christ or fulfilling the very words of Jesus’ statement to him.

      • “All of you will fall away.”

    • The scene in which we are is still in the courtyard of the high priest but now provides a different perspective if you will.

      • As we discovered in last week’s teaching, it was John who was able to assist Peter into the gates to get into the courtyard.

      • It was a familiar face at the gate who knew John and allowed Peter access, and it would seem to be this same servant-girl who would now recognize Peter.

    • The text mentions in verse 67 that this same servant girl looking at Peter warming himself now moved closer to inquire about his previous surroundings.

      • The word “looking” in verse 67a in Greek is emblepo which means to look intently as if inquiring without speaking.

      • It is as if this servant girl has seen him before and is verifying within her own recollection of this reality.

    • Well, the text goes on to say that after having looked intently, she speaks her mind and blurts out in an accusatory manner, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene”

      • The word “also” is pointing out the fact that John too was among the crowd of disciples with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    • The very words of this girl are indeed true. And if this was a courtroom and she was a witness, this testimony would be affirming to Peter’s guilt, unlike the false witnesses and testimonies given about Jesus.

      • It is upon hearing these words that Peter, in fear, responds with a denial for the sake of safety.

      • Peter says, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about”.

    • Peter’s 1st denial was a common Jewish legal expression. It was as if Peter said, “I have no idea what you are saying!”

      • From there, Peter will seek to find the nearest exit in an effort to escape danger.

      • Remember, Peter is in the courtyard in the middle of the High Priest’s home where he is surrounded by the Roman cohort and officers that have arrested Jesus.

      • If Peter were to be caught, he would have been arrested and potentially killed having been an associate of Jesus.

      • On top of that, being that Peter had cut off Malchus’ ear, the assault of an officer would have led to much more serious repercussions.

    • The reality is, Peter, should have never been in the courtyard to begin with. So, what do we make of Peter’s presence in the courtyard?

      • This is once again, classic Peter!

      • He told Jesus not too long ago he would die for Him than let them take Him, however, Peter spoke too confidently and with much self-assurance and spiritual pride.

      • This appearance is nothing more than Peter attempting to prove to himself that he won’t fall victim to denying Jesus as Jesus had previously mentioned to him.

      • Self-confidence and pride have now led Peter into a courtyard of crooks whom he now has to navigate around all in the name of being “right”.

    • Not only do we witness pride at play with Peter following behind Jesus into the courtyard, but we also witness blatant disobedience from Peter as well.

      • Although not in Mark’s account, we find in John’s gospel that there are several discussions that transpired between Jesus and the disciples regarding matters related to the Church Age that was soon to come (Upper Room Discourse)

      • It is in John 13:36-38 that we see the immediate context which provides us the background as to why Peter following behind Jesus to the high priest’s home, was disobedience. Check out the text:

John 13:36  Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” 
John 13:37 Peter *said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” 
John 13:38 Jesus *answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
  • Verse 37-38, John documents that Peter was willing to lay down his life for Jesus, even if the other disciples wouldn’t.

    • However, it takes Jesus in verse 38 to let Peter know that despite the big talk, his collapse was not too far away.

    • We now fast forward to our text tonight and see in verse 68 that Peter has denied Jesus for the first time and now seeks to find hiding for the sake of his own safety.

      • So, he goes to the porch entryway of Caiaphas’ home.

      • Let’s keep moving to verses 69-71.

Mark 14:69  The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 
Mark 14:70  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.” 
Mark 14:71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 
  • Time passes and we now see that the servant-girl has spotted Peter again, as if determined to rightly accuse Peter as a disciple of Jesus, in hopes to turn up the pressure on him.

    • Only this time the servant girl now wrangles together a group of bystanders whom will offer support to call out Peter’s means of escaping the scene in which He has led himself in.

      • A few weeks ago, we discussed how pride comes before the fall, and here we have Peter in the thicket of this daunting situation.

    • The servant girl emphatically makes known that Peter is one of Jesus’ disciples.

      • One interesting detail that we find within John’s gospel is there was a slave of the high priest, who was a relative of Malchus, and mentions aloud that they saw Peter in the garden at the moment of Jesus’ arrest!

      • Perhaps this is one of the bystanders that the slave girl calls over who can testify, yet again, to Peter and his relation to Jesus.

    • At this point, you can imagine the intensity of this scene and Peter’s disposition in all of it.

      • He is surrounded by the High Priest’s guards, in the enemy’s camp on full alert, all because He wanted to show that he wouldn’t desert Jesus nor deny Him.

      • Self-confidence is a dangerous thing, especially as disciples of Jesus, and Peter is used as an example, in this case, to show us how this happens.

      • We can become so confident in our walk with Jesus or our knowledge of Jesus that we begin to rely more upon our ability than in Christ’s security.

    • From John 13 to John 17, Jesus provides keen insight into the reality of who is upholding the work of ministry in which they will embark upon.

      • He goes through comforting the disciples regarding His departure and how He is going to prepare a place for them and how He is the truth.

      • He then speaks to the Oneness that He and the Father have.

      • From there He mentions the role which the Spirit will play after a time after His ascension to the right hand of the Father for His session.

    • Chapter 15, Jesus speaks to the fact that He is the vine and the disciples are the branches and how they must abide in Him to be fruitful.

      • From there He speaks to how the disciples should deal with one another and how their relation to the world will look in comparison to their relationship towards each other.

      • It’s almost as if these teachings are a fire hydrant that is spewing at over 300 miles per hour.

      • And it would require that the Holy Spirit indwell these men for these teachings to settle firmly in their hearts in understanding.

    • However, Jesus has not died at this point and the Holy Spirit has not indwelled the believers yet, therefore, these men would have to trust the very words of Jesus every step of the way.

      • But Peter doesn’t seem to quite get that yet even with having been in the very proximity of Jesus and having walked with Him for 3.5 years.

      • This goes to say that as followers of Jesus, we too must rest in Christ and His words as we walk with Him experientially, rather than trusting in ourselves for personal security.

      • Peter is completely vulnerable and, what seems at this point, completely alone, yet as we will see later, even in the mess that Peter has made, Jesus is in the darkness with Him!

    • It’s in verse 70 that Peter, due to the circumstantial pressure, folds once again in fear of the outcome of his life.

      • The conflict continues to pile up and the bystanders are beginning to join together in collaboration to call out Peter, who is now feeling the weight of his previous words.

    • And isn’t this the reality of what pride can do, or temptation can do when we think we are strong enough to take it on ourselves apart from the power of Christ?

      • That where Peter should have trusted Jesus’ words, he relied on himself.

      • That where Peter should have gotten the hint after his first denial and hearing the crow of the rooster, it should have activated in his mind to heed the words of Jesus.

    • The danger with thinking we have it all under control is that that temptation of self-reliance, if not submitted to the Lord, will cause us to buckle under its full weight as well!

      • It’s upon the arrival of the third denial that Peter is called out by the bystanders because they recognize that he is in fact a Galilean.

      • The question arises: “How do they know he is Galilean?”

      • Here is where harmonizing the gospel accounts comes in beautifully.

    • We need not look any further than Matthew 26:73 where we find that it is Peter’s accent that gives away his cover.

      • Somehow his responses or the way in which he pronounced certain words were a bit different than those in the area.

    • At this point, there is no escaping the reality in which Peter has lured himself into and now he is at the point of no return.

      • He will either buckle under the pressure and say he is a disciple of Jesus, or he will fold and deny Jesus.

      • One detail worth notating is the fact that the phrase “again he denied it” is written in the imperfect tense meaning that he continually denied that He knew who Jesus was.

      • It’s like when you have caught your child in a lie and have seen them commit the accusation from a distance, yet they insist they did no such thing – this is Peter’s current condition.

    • Well as we know, Peter folds, however the text provides us with some detail about the reality of this collapse under the weight of Peter’s own disobedience and self-reliance.

      • Verse 71 mentions that Peter began to curse and swear.

      • Now, before jumping to our 21st-century understanding of this phrase, we need to note the culture and language of that day.

    • This was not Peter cursing in the sense of profanity or anything of that sort, rather Peter placed himself under God’s curse as if putting himself under an oath.

      • To put it differently, it is as if to say, “I swear to God, I do not know what you are talking about”, or “For God is my witness, I do not know this man.”

      • What’s most interesting in the text is that Peter does not even mention Jesus’ name in his defense.

      • He literally says, “I do not know “this man” you are talking about!” – Talk about totally distancing yourself for the sake of preserving one’s life!

      • This was complete and total denial on Peter’s part! And what becomes quite sobering is what we find in verse 72. Check out the text.

Mark 14:72   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.
  • Once the rooster crowed a second time, Peter recalled Jesus’ words to him in Mark 14:30, that Peter would deny Him three times.

    • It was at that moment that Peter began to weep.

      • Matthew’s gospel mentions that upon the third denial, that Peter wept bitterly.

      • The Greek word for “bitter” is pikros which means it was tears of great agony and pain.

      • Peter has done the very thing he told His Lord that he would not do.

    • However, I believe the account that provides the greatest sense of the weightiness of the scene is Luke’s gospel. Check out what Luke says in Luke 22:60-62.

Luke 22:60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 
Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 
Luke 22:62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
  • Luke mentions that while Peter was uttering the very words of his third denial that the Lord turned and looked directly at Peter.

    • What a moment that must have been!

    • I believe it was that visual exchange that caused Peter to weep bitterly.

    • It was the realization of how he had both seemingly failed Jesus and failed himself.

    • Here it was, that Peter never anticipated he would be one whom would deny Jesus.

      • He spoke out of pride as if the others would fall away and he would not – how fleeting is the confidence we have of ourselves?!

    • But before we run to go and judge Peter for his overly confident remarks, it’s fair to say that we too have found ourselves there more than a time or two.

      • We rely more on our favorite bible teacher and their study than we do on the Holy Spirit to lead us in right relationship with the Lord.

      • Or the temptation of claiming that we know more bible than the next person because we have taken Greek or Hebrew, therefore relying on our confidence and knowledge than in Christ alone.

    • I love this quote from Dr. Andy Woods, he said it best: “God has designed the Gospel so that it is the ultimate attack on human pride.”

      • That when we put up the words of scripture to our lives, it will show us who we really are in light of who Jesus truly is! (It’s a mirror)

      • Peter is left with eating his words which leads him to weep in his weakness.

      • Oh, may we never stand in our strength as if it keeps us afloat in this life, but may we boast in our weakness which is where the strength of the Lord is found. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

    • I can’t help but imagine that although Peter glares into the eyes of Jesus with much shame and disappointment, Jesus looks at him with much sadness but immense love and grace.

      • That where Peter saw failure, Christ was holding up Peter’s faith.

      • That where Peter saw his weakness, Christ would provide him strength.

      • Where Peter was left broken and defeated, Jesus would be beaten to bring about victory.

      • That although Peter failed, in Christ there would be no failure.

    • For after Jesus would be flogged, crucified, and died, in three days He would be raised to life and not long after will meet Peter around a similar fire in the Galilee, where He will restore Peter and then commission him for ministry.

      • I think what we find from Peter’s greatest failure is a mighty lesson for believers throughout all times and that is, if Peter never had experienced this fall, He would have never looked up to see the immeasurable grace and love of Jesus!

      • The fall of Peter’s pride gave way to the humility that would burst forth through his coming ministry.

    • The great Puritan Pastor, George Whitefield wrote in his 58th sermon on Peter’s denial from Matthew 26:75 the following:

“He is faithful who hath promised not only to make us conquerors, but more than conquerors through his love.” Yet a little while, and our warfare shall be accomplished, death will put an end to all. A wicked world, a wicked heart, a wicked devil shall then cease from troubling us, and our weary souls shall never be so much as tempted to deny our blessed Lord any more.
  • The trial in which Peter failed, would be the trial in which Jesus would pass.

    • That through the scourging and pain of the beatings, mistreatment, and the cross, would rise the mighty One in whom would soon sit in His Session, interceding for us as our Great High Priest!

    • And in the future to come, will reign as our conquering King.

    • This grace, Peter would soon come to understand when he, in Acts 2, filled with the Holy Spirit, would preach and proclaim the gospel boldly and in his proclamation would come the salvation of 3,000 souls to the glory of God.

      • Failure is never a definer of one’s life!

      • For in Christ, our failures are used as instruments of refinement to further develop us into images of Jesus Christ.

      • Let’s look at our last verse for tonight: Mark 15:1

Mark 15:1 Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate
  • Lastly, we end in Mark 15:1 where, Jesus, after Peter’s third denial, is escorted in the early morning towards the Praetorium where the Sanhedrin council would give their verdict to Pilate which would then begin the Roman Civil Trials.

    • Jesus would make His way through three separate hearings where He, the innocent Son of God, would be traded in for a common criminal, Barabbas.

    • I pray you join us next week in Mark 15.

    • Let’s Pray.