But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, a cock crowed.
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times.”
And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)
When Judas came to betray Jesus, a multitude came with him.
Perhaps it was because Judas knew that Jesus could work wonders, so he told the chief priests, officers and elders they’d better come out in force, in case He decided to use His power to escape. So when they arrested Jesus, the disciples were easily outnumbered.
When Jesus was brought to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, there were even more people present. The scribes and the whole Council had been waiting for Him to arrive. Peter, who had followed at a distance, waited outside with the officers to see the outcome.
Then certain people began to stare at Peter strangely, as though trying to discern why he looked so familiar. Peter felt ill at ease, and moved closer to the fire in the courtyard.
Meanwhile, Jesus was undergoing cross-examination and listening to false testimony about Himself from hired witnesses, followed by pointed, accusatory questions from Caiaphas. Then they began to spit in His face, beat Him with their fists, and slap Him.
As Peter watched the hideous punishment that Jesus endured, his heart was a tumult of fear and anguish. The people who recognized him as a disciple turned pointed questions at him, with a clear threat underlying their words. He tried to brush their comments off, taking an attitude of annoyance so they would leave him alone. He wanted to focus on what was happening inside…why were they doing such things to Jesus? What on earth could He possibly have done to bring about such punishment? Then a third person, more boisterous than the others, swaggered over to him and declared, “Surely you too are one of them; for the way you talk gives you away!”
Peter had had enough. The man he’d been before he met Jesus rose quickly to the surface and his lip curled and he cursed loudly and took a menacing step toward his accuser. “I do not know the man!” he shouted into his face.
The cock crowed before Peter had finished speaking. But it wasn’t so much the sound of the cock crowing that made Peter suddenly so weak in his knees he could hardly stand, but the sudden beam of holy light that suddenly shone upon him. Without conscious thought, he turned toward it, and saw the face of Jesus, dripping with spit and blood, His beautiful eyes fixed upon him and filled with compassion.
Jesus, who in the midst of His accusers, a raucous and riotous crowd who threw accusations and punches at Him, knew every single moment of His hideous punishment where each of His disciples were, what they were saying, what they were doing, and the state of their hearts. In the midst of His terrible trials, Jesus’ heart was fixed on His beloved disciples. While His human ears couldn’t possibly have heard Peter’s denials while inside the house, yet His spirit heard every word, and felt the fear, trembling and sense of utter helplessness in Peter’s heart.
When Peter denied Him the third time, Jesus did not turn toward him to condemn him, but rather to comfort him. His eyes spoke volumes to Peter, and Peter was unprepared for the wave of sacrificial love that washed over him, leaving him weak and breathless. He staggered out into the darkness, fell to his knees and wept.
Such love, too incredible for words. How was it that Jesus could be mindful of him while He was mocked, beaten and bloodied? How could He turn such eyes of love and forgiveness upon him after he’d polluted the air with the stench of his curses, and then denied ever even knowing Him? Peter shook his head as fresh tears streamed down his cheeks.
He would never understand it. And he would never be the same.