All the accounts in the four gospels of the Holy Bible state that when Our Lord was arrested and taken to the house or palace of the High Priest, that His disciple Peter followed and entered the estate. But in one of the accounts, in John, chapter 18, is recorded the fact that another disciple entered into the palace, and that this disciple was known to the High Priest.
In St John’s gospel, Peter was asked by the unnamed other disciple to enter the room where the High Priest was, but before he could do so, was accosted by the damsel who kept the door and who said to Peter “Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples?” to which Peter gave voice to his first denial of Jesus. It is then clear that Peter did not enter to be with the High Priest, but also that the second anonymous disciple departed, for no further mention is made of him.
Now this is most strange for two or three reasons, Firstly, why was Peter following the crowd which accompanied Jesus to the house of the High Priest? Secondly, why did his courage apparently desert him, and thirdly, why did the second disciple take no further part in the proceedings? We are told in Scripture that for any charge to be brought (or for that matter repudiated), there has to be two witnesses. Was Peter meant, or did he feel he ought to be one of these? Remember that he showed no fear when he cut off the right ear of the High Priest’s servant, and therefore would not have expected to be overcome by timidity. Peter had said to Jesus earlier, “Why cannot I follow thee now, I will lay down my life for thy sake-. Peter followed but for some reason fear prevented him from keeping the second part of his oath. Was the Lord teaching Peter and through him, the other disciples that to follow completely the Lord is not a task to be thought of as an easy ride. Peter was questioned by an unexpected source, not a temple official but a lowly serving-girl. I submit that this threw him off guard and he panicked accordingly. Are we not also subject to such setbacks?
Did the second disciple, who was known (and presumably respected) by the High Priest, depart as a result of Peter’s denial? Which leads to the fourth question – who was this mysterious disciple? Could it have been the writer of the gospel, John, or perhaps Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea? We know that both of the last named are shown at some point in Scripture as being disciples of Jesus and were of high standing in the religious affairs of the time.
It is clear that the other disciple intended Peter to play some role in the discourse, for the gospel states that “he spake unto her that kept (guarded) the door and brought in Peter”. So, therefore, when Peter denied Our Lord, Jesus was bereft of one of His witnesses. The power of human frailty was combined with overconfidence. It cannot be emphasized too much that the effect of Peter’s denial was a devastating blow to Peter. And he succumbed twice more before the cock had crowed, as the Lord had prophesied. But did this episode not strengthen his resolve to never again to act out of fear and weakness, when facing future trials. And was the Lord showing to Peter that spiritual pride is one of the most deadly and subtle sins of those that seek to espouse holiness? Something brought out dramatically in T.S. Eliot’s play °Murder in the Cathedral”. “I expected three Tempters, not four”
It does not really matter if the unnamed disciple was John or Nicodemus or Joseph, for the principal actor here was Peter, who had previously proclaimed that Our Lord was the Christ, and of whom Jesus had said that “Satan hath desired to have you”. Therefore, Peter was considered pre-eminent amongst the disciples, and was marked out for a major role in spreading the Gospel, a role which did not include being the Bishop of Rome.
In a strange reversal, the Roman church has used Peter as a falsified witness for their version of truth, when in fact he was never in Rome. The ancient Romans did however call their pagan gods ‘Peters’. The early Roman writer Lucilius mentions Neptune, Liber, Saturn, Mars, Janus and Quirnus as gods of Peter-rank, their chief gods. The father of the Roman gods was hi-Peter, or as we now call him, Jupiter
We are reminded by the Biblical account of Peter’s denials, that is, the consequences of turning back once we have started on our path toward His Glory. And how we can never rely on our strength or wisdom or learning alone. But that how we must proceed at all times under the guidance of and by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus stated “I am” to his accusers, they went backward and fell to the ground. Perhaps the subsequent and complementary understanding of this simple exclamation is that nothing exists or can exist outside of His Holy Presence, whether immanent or transcendent. He is the all-in-all.
Or as John says of Almighty God (John 1:3) “All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made” And as reasserted in Ephesians 3:9 “Which from the beginning of the world hath been hid In God, who created all things by Jesus Christ”. Finally from Colossians 1:16-17 “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist”.