Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”
Simon Peter was the man ready to cut off the ear of one of the people who took Jesus into custody. He had the courage, or perhaps the misunderstanding, to physically challenge the guards. It was Jesus who told him to pay down his sword.
But by the time they were at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, Peter was ready to deny being one of the disciples. Likely he was overcome by fear. They arrested the leader. What would they do to the followers? It was the same fear that caused the apostles to lock the door to the upper room after the resurrection.
The Apostles had undertaken a great missionary quest, at some risk of personal harm. They had given up their homes. They had witnessed people wanting to stone Jesus. Took some courage. And after the resurrection, that courage would return, and cost each of them their life.
But at a critical moment, they denied not only Jesus, but also who they were. I am not a disciple. I am not one of them. I am not a person with faith in Jesus. In the end, that denial didn’t matter to Jesus. He knew the inner person, he knew the real Peter would triumph.
We find ourselves in Peter’s place once in a while as we struggle with identity. Perhaps more often than we would like. Not to worry. Jesus knows us. He trusts us. He believes in us. He gives us time to find our footing, and answer the question about discipleship with the words, yes, I am. Like Peter, we just have to stay close to Jesus. Give ourselves time and space. Let go of the mistake. Embrace the second chance. And as he did with Peter, Jesus will see us through our time of fear, uncertainty, and denial.