Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
It is most likely that John was the “other disciple” in this passage. It is thought that he was related to the high priest and thus was able to get inside the courtyard where Jesus was being taken to see Annas (who was a former high priest), and the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. Peter was left alone, cold, fearful and shivering in the outside grey of the dark night. Peter was spun out and overwhelmed with emotions and fear from all that he’d experienced that evening - Jesus being hunted down, arrested and then being reprimanded by Jesus for cutting off the ear of Malchus with his sword.
When John realizes that Peter is not behind him and still in the outer area, he tells the servant-girl to let Peter in. Clearly, the servant-girl knew that John was a follower of Jesus. This is why the servant-girl asked Peter if he was a follower too. Caught up in his emotions of being overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, Peter defaults to his old ways of living and disclaims his relationship with Jesus by responding, “No I am not.” When I was growing up, with six siblings, my mom needed something to do with all of us during the summer. We lived a short distance from the beach, so I spent many sunny summer days body surfing in the ocean. On one occasion, as a teen, I went to the beach with some friends. I decided to go out body surfing, but my two girlfriends didn’t like to swim in large waves. Believing I was an experienced body surfer, I went out by myself. After a short while, I got caught in a rip current. The long, narrow bands of water began to pull me further and further away from the shore. I completely panicked and started swimming against the current and was pulled underneath the water tossing and turning out of control. I came up for a short breath and was once again pulled down by her strong arms and being thrown around like a ragdoll. When I was able to come up for another breath, I could hear a voice inside of me saying, “Stay calm.”
Once I made a decision to stay calm, my mind cleared enough to remember I needed to swim parallel to the shore. As I began to do this, I was able to free myself from being pulled underneath the water and had to be okay that I was swimming further down the beach and away from my friends sitting by the shoreline. Within a short time, a couple of men, who saw me struggling, came to my rescue and assisted me in getting back to the shore. They walked me to my friends who were very concerned over my state of affairs. I sat on my beach towel trembling and being comforted by my friends because I was so overwhelmed by the experience.
When things don’t go the way we expect and events in our lives get out of our control, it can feel like we are out in the ocean, caught in a rip current.
When things don’t go the way we expect and events in our lives get out of our control, it can feel like we are out in the ocean, caught in a rip current. We will do anything to survive. Peter was experiencing a rip current of emotions during the tumultuous time of Jesus’ arrest. He was feeling fearful for his life, doubting he had what it takes, not wanting to be noticed, shaming himself for striking the ear of the high priest’s servant and anxious that he’d be arrested too. We all have rip currents going on in our lives at times. What are the rip currents in your life? Are you able to name them? Are you allowing your emotions to be controlled by these rip currents? Take a few minutes and talk to God about them. Then, allow Him to bring you that calm like the lyrics of this old hymn, He Will Calm The Troubled Waters. “When your heart is broken up with grief or trouble, you don’t have to bear it all alone; for you have a friend who knows about your struggles, He is standing by when other friends are gone. He will calm the troubled waters of your soul. Take your broken heart and make it whole. When the storms of your life are dark and cold, He will calm the troubled waters; the dark and troubled waters, of your soul.”