Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. (Jn 18:15-18)
So Peter denies Jesus the first time during the night. Denies Jesus to a servant girl a slave. One wonders how she knew who Peter was. Did she go along with the party that arrested him? Did she just observe him in the Temple? Perhaps she herself was a disciple of Jesus? Jesus had disciples who were not of the twelve. We don’t know the disciple that let Peter into the court yard. Some speculate that it was John, who rarely names himself in his gospel. But it doesn’t say it was the disciple whom Jesus loved either. It could have been a man like Joseph of Arimethea or Nicodemus. Peter could have told John this story later in their life together. In any case Peter denies Jesus here for the first time this evening.
It’s a hard thing. Earlier Peter had drawn his sword. He was willing to go out in a blaze of glory it seems, but not to stand trial. It is very possible that Peter did not want to be tried for his own assault. Did not want to be recognized as the one who cut off Malchus’s ear. Whatever the case, I think we can all identify with Peter.
Who hasn’t denied Christ for one reason or another in their life? Peter wanted to watch, he didn’t want to abandon his friend completely. But he did not want to stick out his neck on this either. Perhaps he thought it would be futile to speak up at that time. Perhaps it was. Who knows? Jesus did. How often have we had a friend who was ranting and raving against the church or Christ and we just clam up figuring we don’t want to lose a friend, or that it would be futile to make a defense at this time and expose yourself to hostility? But then we never know when or how the Holy Spirit will work through the gospel that we share. Whatever may come from us sharing the gospel, his work is done in and through us when we do. His purposes accomplished, and even if it should cost us our life, we know that those who lose their life for the sake of Jesus, will keep it.