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Peter Denies Jesus (Mark 14:66-72)

Analysis and Commentary

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Peter Denies Jesus

Peter Denies Jesus

    66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
    68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.
    70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
    72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
    Compare: Matthew 26:69-75; Luke 22:55-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27

Peter’s Denials

As Jesus predicted, Peter denies his association with him. Jesus also predicted the same for all his other disciples, but Mark doesn’t narrate their betrayals. Peter’s is interwoven with Jesus’ trial, thus contrasting true confessions with false ones. Peter’s actions are first described at the beginning of the trial, making this a “sandwich” narrative technique employed so often by Mark.

In order to emphasize the faithlessness of Peter, the nature of his three denials increases in intensity each time. First he gives a simple denial to a single maid who claims that he was “with” Jesus. Second he denies to the maid and a group of bystanders that he was “one of them.” Finally, he denies with a vehement oath to a group of bystanders that he was “one of them.”

It is worth remembering that according to Mark, Peter was the first disciple called to Jesus’ side (1:16-20) and the first who confessed that Jesus was the Messiah (8:29). Nevertheless, his denials of Jesus may be the most vehement of all. This is the last we see of Peter in Mark’s gospel and it’s unclear whether Peter’s weeping is a sign of repentance, contrition, or prayer.

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