The Lord will not allow the work that He begins in His people to be overthrown even by the most severe attacks of our enemy. And when His children fall, He is willing and able to restore them as they turn from their sin and trust Him for forgiveness.
The Gospels depict the arrest and trial of Jesus in a way that shows us not only the insensibility of His accusers, but also His own steadfast faithfulness to the will of God through suffering and humiliation. Our Lord’s example shows us how to continue entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23; 4:19).
Jesus, however, was not the only one who was on trial on this momentous occasion. The gospel writers highlight the events surrounding His abuse and trumped up charges, but they also record another trial that took place that night. This second trial was not center stage; rather, it took place in the shadow, not before the immediate presence of Caiphas the high priest, but in the outer courtyard of his residence.
This other trial does not give us any examples to follow, but it is filled with lessons about sin and grace. At the very time that Jesus was humbly enduring abuse and scorn by trusting His Father, Peter was failing miserably as his own faith was being tried.
The facts of Peter’s fall are well known to those who are familiar with the New Testament. All four Gospels tell the story in detailed ways.
Matthew reports that as Jesus was being taken to the high priest, “Peter was following him at a distance” (26:58). As He was being interrogated and abused inside, Peter “was sitting outside in the courtyard” (v. 69) when his own trial began to unfold.
It started with a comment directed to him by a servant girl: “You also were with Jesus the Galilean,” which he resolutely denied (vv. 69–70). As he headed for the door another servant girl made the same observation, and then some bystanders cast doubt over his denials when they commented that his accent gave him away.
Peter’s anger rises with his fear, and the third time he is confronted about knowing Jesus he punctuates his disavowal of “the man” with curses (v. 74). He failed miserably, just as Jesus had warned him that he would.