3348.) Mark 14:53-72

Mark14 Church Gallicantu

The Church of St. Peter of Gallicantu, lower level. Built over the deep pit, the crypt occupies a large space cut out of the rock. This place may be the courtyard where Peter was when he denied Jesus, sitting around a campfire with the guards. The mosaic depicts Peter weeping.

Mark 14:53-72 (New Living Translation)

Jesus before the Council

53 They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 54 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.

55 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. 56 Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’” 59 But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!

In ancient Greece and Rome, the destruction or desecration of a holy place was considered a capital offense.

60 Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 Jesus said, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? 64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”

65 Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. “Prophesy to us,” they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.

Even as the guards slap him and mock him for being a false prophet (“Prophesy!”), his prophecy of Peter’s denial is coming true in the courtyard outside.

Peter Denies Jesus

66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”

68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.

Jesus stands up before the High Council’s accusations and tauntings and remains strong. Peter falls apart because a little servant girl is curious. Jesus had prepared himself in fervent prayer that showed his trust in the Father and his submission to God’s will. Peter had thought he was strong enough to manage this on his own.

Note to self:  DO NOT MISS the lesson here for my own life!

69 When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again.

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


A rabbi and his disciple were expected to form a close personal bond-–hardly surprising given the amount of time they spent together and the important life issues they were constantly discussing. This closeness between rabbi and disciple was considered essential to the learning process. It has been said, just as one candle lights another only if it is brought close, so a rabbi only teaches well when he is close to his disciples.

During the time of Jesus, one’s rabbi was considered to be as dear as one’s own father, and it was traditional for disciples to show the same reverence for their rabbi as their father, or even more. It was said, “Your father brought you into this world, but your rabbi brings you into the life of the world to come!”

We find statements like, “If a man’s father and his rabbi are both taken captive, a disciple should ransom his rabbi first,” and “If his father and his master are carrying heavy burdens, he removes that of his master, and afterward removes that of his father.” The point of such sayings was to highlight the utter devotion a disciple should display to his rabbi. Rabbis were also deeply committed to their disciples, as evidenced by such saying as this:  “If a disciple is sent into exile, his rabbi should go with him.” A famous sage by the name of Rabbi Akiva once cared for a sick disciple, coming to his home and even performing housework until he returned to health.

No wonder Peter told Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28), and later, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Mark 14:13). He was reflecting the deep devotion that disciples felt for their rabbis at that time. Peter’s devotion stands in direct contrast to Judas’s disloyalty, highlighting how unthinkable it would have been for a disciple to betray his rabbi with a kiss! By understanding the traditional bond between rabbi and disciple we can also sense the depth of Peter’s anguish after denying Jesus three times, and then his overwhelming gratitude on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when the risen Christ made him breakfast and reinstated him (John 21:17).

(pp. 58-59)

A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”

71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

“Peter’s Betrayal” by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.



The hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus” will soon be 400 years old, yet it continues to challenge its readers/singers (= us) to recognize our own sins and our culpability:  ‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee, I crucified thee.  HERE  it is.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Church of St. Peter of Gallicantu.     http://www.galenfrysinger.com/jerusalem_sanhedrin.htm
Jesus praying.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/jesusatprayer.jpg
Bloch.    https://www.carlbloch.org/Peters-Betrayal.html

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