John 18:12-18 Easter at Christmas: Denial

 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

Easter at Christmas:  Denial

John, it would seem, has not named himself but is probably the disciple who gets Peter into the high priest’s enclosure.  The pressure, though, is on Peter.  After all, he is the one who cut off one of the high priest’s servants ears.  Maybe some of the gang are still in the courtyard.  Peter, obviously wants to keep a low profile whilst at the same time keeping himself close to Jesus.  It seems very natural to me that Peter would deny knowing Jesus.

When we feel under pressure we do things that we wouldn’t otherwise do.  If we are truly focused on Jesus and what he stands for we wouldn’t buckle.  However, self-preservation and self-focus causes us to take our eyes off the goal.  Peter is very human in this regard, but he had claimed that he would be the best of us.  He had talked a big talk.  He had said that even though all others would fall away, he would stay by Jesus.    Jesus had humbled him by telling him that Peter’s own gifts were just the same as the others.  Now Peter shows that he is not the leader he had hoped he would be.

In spite of Peter’s claim that he could walk alongside Jesus in his final hours, Jesus now walks alone.John and the women will continue at a distance.  Peter had claimed that what Jesus could endure, he could endure too.


Jesus you walked alone so that I would not have to.  None of us could walk where you walked.  None of us would endure what you endured.  I believe that we would all deny you in the end unless the Holy Spirit gave us the boldness and the courage to endure.  Let us be a light in the darkness.  Let us reflect you.


  1. What had Peter promised?
  2. Why do people think that John had connections with the high priest?
  3. Why did Jesus let Peter know he would deny him?
  4. How do people over-promise when they commit to God?
  5. Why does God let us fail to live up to our commitment to him?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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17 Responses to John 18:12-18 Easter at Christmas: Denial

  1. Amy McCashen says:

    Peter had promised not to deny Jesus and to follow him anywhere. I think Jesus told Peter ahead of time so that he could think about and decide strongly that he would never do such a thing. However, when the time actually came, Peter had a greater realization of how weak his flesh is. People over-promise to God all the time. They say things like, “God, if you let me (or give me) _____, then I will _____. Some people follow through with their promise, but I think sometimes they do not. God allows us to fail so we can see our need for Him and His grace.

  2. Jenna says:

    1. Peter had promised to never leave Jesus, even if everyone else did.
    2. It seems random for John to mention the random disciple, unless he was the random disciple.
    3. Maybe to give Peter some hope when it happened – Jesus had know that it would happen, but He still loved Peter.
    4. We want to look good and to have people think we’re great; it can be easy to talk a little more confidently than we feel.
    5. It’s like in Hebrews; God disciplines us for our good!

  3. Kathleen says:

    Peter had promised Jesus that he would never deny him. According to the Moody Commentary, John might have been known to the high priest as a result of his father, Zebedee, being wealthy. Jesus might have told Peter about the denial as a way to prepare Peter for what was to come. It could also be to show the prophecy in Zechariah 13:7, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and i will turn my hand against the little ones.” If I was Peter it would have been comforting to know that Jesus still loved me even though he knew I was going to deny him.

  4. karas says:

    I find it so meaningful that this story was included. First, like Professor Worrall mentioned, it shows Peter’s humanity and how he failed, as we all have and do. However, it also sets up the possibility of something beautiful happening later. Peter’s grief is definitely felt when the rooster crows and he remembers what Jesus had said he would do. But then later, after Jesus rises, He restores Peter. He asks him three times if he loves Him. As difficult as that conversation must have been for Peter, it shows me that despite our sin and our great, great shame, Jesus has forgiven and accepted us. We owe so great a debt, we should never take this forgiveness lightly. Our lives should reflect our gratefulness. I hope mine does.

  5. sjcavitt says:

    1) Peter had promised that he would never leave Jesus.
    2) In one commentary, I read that John has been mentioned to have been in the presence of the high priests. Perhaps there was a family connection.
    3) Maybe Jesus told Peter that to prepare him. Despite Peter’s denial, he was still loved.
    4) Sometimes in emotional moments, it is easy to over-promise to give everything to God or to get rid of certain things in their lives. While the intentions and promises are good, the promises are not always kept.
    5) I believe He allows us to fail so that we will see our deep and desperate need for Him. We constantly need His help and His grace!

  6. Dylan says:

    1. Peter promised to never leave Jesus.
    2. John often referred to himself as the ‘other disciple’ or ‘the one Jesus loved’ to be humble and keep the focus on Jesus rather than himself. Thus, he is probably the other disciple in this case but I’m not sure why he would know or be affiliated with the high priest.
    3. Jesus warned Peter that he would deny him to be honest and consistent with his nature. He also did this to remove the pride from Peter’s heart and affirm the power of God, which Peter would realize after denying him a third time.
    4. People over-promise to God by saying they will never commit a certain sin or set of sins again. They make a deal with God, but God doesn’t honor deals. These people (I have done this too!) always fail. This is a hard place to be, for until we ask forgiveness and begin leaning on God, we will be stuck in our sins and totally hopeless.
    5. God allows us to fail so we can learn who he is.

    • Dylan says:

      5. Continued… God is also a just God and our prideful actions will have negative consequences. We will inevitably fall but Jesus always picks us back up for he does not lose any of his sheep.

  7. jelee15 says:

    Wow! Jesus walked alone so that we would not have to be alone! What amazing hope we have in Him! This reminds me of Becca’s lesson last week when we shared our fears. I said my fear is to be alone, but we are never alone if we are in Christ. What sacrifice God the Father made when He sent His Son to die so that we might also become sons! What sacrifice Jesus made when He willingly went to the cross and endured separation from all He loves! What awesome love God has for us in breaking His perfect triune fellowship at the cross so that we might enter into fellowship with Him!

  8. zacbodine says:

    1) Peter promised to stay with Jesus and never deny him, but he did.
    2) John was a dude in a religious movement. Of course he would be in cahoots with other religious dudes.
    3) To put him in check
    4) We overpromise when we think that our works save us. We tell God that our works will be great. We want the status of a hierarchical heaven, one where the people who did more will have more.
    5) To push us into the gospel

  9. How do people over-promise when they commit to God?
    “Sometimes we lean on our own understanding and fail to acknowledge Him, thus our words and actions reflect our desires to impress God or win His favor instead of submitting to His will and allowing Him to humble and shape us.”

  10. ashleypdye says:

    1. Peter had promised to follow Jesus forever.
    2. It makes sense to me that John would have connections with the high priest. I am sure they must have seen each other a lot.
    3. Jesus wanted to communicate that although he knew the hard truth about Peter, he still loved him.
    4. We promise something that we are unable to commit to without the help of God.
    5. He lets us fail so that we see his grace.

  11. Bethany says:

    1) Peter promised Jesus that he would never leave him, even if everyone else had.
    3)So that when Peter did deny Christ he would know that Jesus knew it would happen. This would make Peter feel better about denying Christ, and show that Jesus was truly God’s son
    4) We always think we are going to respond to situations the very best way until we are in the hard situations. For example, a friend and I were going for a walk around a flooded area a couple years ago. There was a man swimming in the flood water about a quarter mile away from us. My friend asked what I would do if he started to drown. I said I would jump in. In that moment he started to drown. I was so afraid and knew I would drown trying to swim to him so I did nothing. HE was saved though.

  12. Jessica says:

    What had Peter promised?
    Peter had promised to stick by Jesus in his last hours.

    Why did Jesus let Peter know he would deny him?
    To humble him.

    How do people over-promise when they commit to God?
    They commit to doing things that they are powerless to do. We can only truly honor and worship God when the HOly Spirit moves in us to do so.

    Why does God let us fail to live up to our commitment to him?
    So that we can truly see the grace of the gospel.

  13. Beth Coale says:

    1. To always follow Jesus faithfully
    2. Maybe because John had connections to Jesus and they were looking for a link (which they ended up finding in Judas)
    3. Maybe so that after it happened, Peter would have another reason to believe that Jesus had power and was the Son of God & to continue to follow His teachings
    4. we get excited about what we think we have to offer & do for God
    5. I think He lets us fail when we try on our own too much

  14. Nick says:

    Peter had promised to never leave Jesus and continue to follow him, but once the pressure was put on him and he was questioned, Peter denied Jesus, just as Jesus told him he would. Peter thought that Jesus was crazy, but I bet he did not think Jesus was so crazy now that Peter actually had denied him. I think that God allows us to deny him, so that we can continue to fail and see our shortcomings, only to see how great he is and run back to him.

  15. Rachel says:

    Oh, Peter. So passionate and loving! He longed to serve Jesus to the very end! However, he buckled. Jesus warned Peter that this would happen. Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself! I take great comfort in this. God knows that we fail to love Him perfectly! His love knows no bounds.

  16. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. What had Peter promised?
    To follow Jesus to the end.
    2. Why do people think that John had connections with the high priest?
    Good question. I have no idea. Maybe he already had gotten in trouble with the high priest for following Jesus?
    3. Why did Jesus let Peter know he would deny him?
    To remind him of the words he had promised.
    4. How do people over-promise when they commit to God?
    They promise to never fail, never slip up.
    5. Why does God let us fail to live up to our commitment to him?
    To show that he is faithful even when we are not.

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