Matthew 26:69-75 (ESV)
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean."  But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean."  And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."  And again he denied it with an oath: "I do not know the man."  After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you."  Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the rooster crowed.  And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
It’s a famous passage. Jesus’ predictions come true, and Peter is cut to the quick. He realizes his sin. He repents of it. He leaves and weeps. All he wanted to do was watch the trial take place. Keep tabs on his friend. He wasn’t the only disciple doing that. But the girls recognize him, and he has a hard time denying it because of his accent. As a Minnesotan living out his life west of the Rocky Mountains, I can relate to this accent thing. But as you expect a Presbyterian to have a Scottish brogue, these days it seems a bit part and parcel for the Lutheran to sound like he’s from Minnesota.
Peter keeps saying “I don’t know the man”. “I don’t know the man.” He really didn’t. He thought he did at one time. Spent three years listening to the man, was the first to confess that he was the Christ. And yet he speaks more truth here than he knows when he says, “I don’t know the man.”
There is a sense in which you really don’t know anyone until something like this happens. There is always more to a person than you think. But that isn’t really what I’m getting at.
Peter, more or less mirrors all of us, left on our own. I’m somewhat left wondering after talking to some people, like a Baptist pastor I met the other day. He was so sure he was going to heaven because he knows Jesus Christ. And I’m not saying he isn’t going to heaven. But I do wonder sometimes, when you have made a career out of denying the grace of God to infants…. See, that’s how well he knows Christ, so well that he denies him to every child, to every set of parents that come along. To add insult to injury, denies Christ’s divinity every time he celebrates the Lord’s Supper. But he knows Christ…. Well those are tangents. I’m sure he does know Christ, not sure how well. But it isn’t about us knowing Christ, so much as it is about Christ knowing us.
See if it is up to us knowing Christ, the devil would put us in any number of situations in which we would deny knowing Christ. We think we would stand so tall. Christ knows us better than that. Christ knows each and every one of us is a Peter. The devil would sift us if Christ let him. Christ knows us better. He knows who we really are. We should not be so thankful, so boastful of our knowledge of Christ as if this were faith. What we know of Christ is at best the result of faith. Faith is that Christ knows you. Christ knows you, and knows that you will deny him three times before the Cock crows twice. Faith is Christ knowing you, and forgiving you. Faith is Christ knowing you, and sending you his Holy Spirit, so that when we find our moments like Peter before Pilate’s courtyard, when we are dragged before kings and queens, he will send us his holy spirit to put words in our lips and keep our confession strong. Faith is him knowing us well enough to know what we need.