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John 18:15-18

15. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and another disciple; 137137     “Or Simon Pierre, avec un autre disciple, suyvoit Jesus.” — “Now Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus.” and that disciple was known to the high priest; therefore he went in with Jesus into the court of the high priest. 16. But Peter stood without at the door. The other disciple, therefore, who was known to the high priest, went out, and spoke to her that kept the door, and brought in Peter 138138     “Et parla a la portiere, laquelle fit entrer Pierre;” — “and spoke to her that kept the door, who brought in Peter.” 17. Then the maid that kept the door said to Peter, Art not thou also one of that man's disciples? He saith, I am not. 18. And the servants and officers, who had kindled a fire of coals, because it was cold, stood there and warmed themselves; and Simon Peter was also standing with them, and warming himself.

 

15. And another disciple. Some have been led astray, by a slight conjecture, to suppose that this disciple was the Evangelist 139139     “Nostre Evangeliste.” John, because he is accustomed to speak of himself without mentioning his name. But what intimacy with a proud high priest could John have, who was a mean fisherman? And how was it possible for him, being one of Christ’s household, to be in the habit of visiting the house of the high priest? It is more probable that he was not one of the twelve, but that he is called a disciple, because he had embraced the doctrine of the Son of God.

John is not very exact in arranging the narrative, being satisfied with drawing up a brief summary; for, after having related that Peter once denied Christ, he intermingles other matters, and afterwards returns to the other two denials. Inattentive readers were led by this circumstance to conclude that the first denial took place in the house of Annas. The words, however, convey no such meaning, but rather state clearly that it was the high priest’s maid that constrained Peter to deny Christ. We must, therefore, understand that, when Christ was brought before the high priest, admission was not granted to any person who chose, but that the disciple who was known to the high priest requested, as a personal favor, that Peter might be admitted. There is no reason to doubt that godly zeal was the motive that induced both of them to follow Christ; but since Christ had plainly declared that he spared Peter and the others, he who was so weak would have found it to be far better for him to groan and pray in some dark corner than to go into the presence of men. He now undertakes, with great earnestness, the performance of a duty from which Christ had released him; and when he comes to the confession of faith, in which he ought to have persevered even to death, his courage fails. We ought always to consider what the Lord requires from us, that those who are weak may not undertake what is not necessary.

17. Then the maid that kept the door said to Peter. Peter is introduced into the high priest’s hall; but it cost him very dear, for, as soon as he sets his foot within it, he is constrained to deny Christ. When he stumbles so shamefully at the first step, the foolishness of his boasting is exposed. He had boasted that he would prove to be a valiant champion, and able to meet death with firmness; and now, at the voice of a single maid, and that voice unaccompanied by threatening, he is confounded and throws down his arms. Such is a demonstration of the power of man. Certainly, all the strength that appears to be in men is smoke, which a breath immediately drives away. When we are out of the battle, we are too courageous; but experience shows that our lofty talk is foolish and groundless; and, even when Satan makes no attacks, we contrive for ourselves idle alarms which disturb us before the time. The voice of a feeble woman terrified Peter: and what is the case with us? Do we not continually tremble at the rustling of a falling leaf? A false appearance of danger, which was still distant, made Peter tremble: and are we not every day led away from Christ by childish absurdities? In short, our courage is of such a nature, that, of its own accord, it gives way where there is no enemy; and thus does God revenge the arrogance of men by reducing fierce minds to a state of weakness. A man, filled not with fortitude but with wind, promises that he will obtain an easy victory over the whole world; and yet, no sooner does he see the shadow of a thistle, than he immediately trembles. Let us therefore learn not to be brave in any other than the Lord.

I am not. This does not seem, indeed, to be an absolute denial of Christ; but when Peter is afraid to acknowledge that he is one of Christs disciples, it amounts to an assertion that he has nothing to do with him. This ought to be carefully observed, that no one may imagine that he has escaped by acting the part of a sophist, when it is only in an indirect manner that he shrinks from the confession of his faith.

18. And Simon Peter was standing with them. When the evangelist adds that Peter was standing near the fire, along with the others and servants, this serves to connect the various parts of the narrative, as we shall afterwards see. But this shows how great was Peter’s stupidity, when, without the least concern, he warmed himself along with a multitude of wicked men, after having denied his Master; though it is possible that he may have been restrained by fear lest, in going out of the high priest’s house, he should fall into another danger of the same kind.


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