After the last supper that Jesus had with his disciples, he told them a frightening thing.
‘You will all desert me’. What an accusation! They refused to accept it and Peter declared, ‘Never! I’ll never be ashamed of you!’
Jesus replied, ‘Peter, tonight, before the cock crows twice, you’ll deny me three times’.
Peter did deny his Lord and Master that night. As I read the story, I began to see a pattern in it. Jesus’ bald statement and its fulfilment were like the covers of a book. Where was the text? I was excited as I read on…
That night, Jesus was brought before the High Priest and the Jewish Council. They gathered witnesses in an effort to find a reason to have him put to death. The whole trial was a farce, with people contradicting each other and the leaders frustrated. In the end, Caiaphas, the High Priest, asked the most important question of his life: ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?’ I can imagine the onlookers leaning forward as they waited for Jesus’ reply.
‘Yes I am’, he said.
Of all the scriptures Jesus could have used in his defence, he chose this one from the writings of the prophet Daniel. ‘And you’ll see it for yourself’, he warned Caiaphas.
The Son of Man seated
At the right hand of the Mighty One,
Arriving on the clouds of heaven
Here is the central point in this drama, the text of the book, as it were. It reveals what the story is all about: the true identity of Jesus. Daniel saw him way back in history and now he was here!
Caiaphas would have been familiar with these words about the Messiah, but on this night of intrigue, he missed his golden opportunity: the great honour of welcoming the one whom God had sent, the real High Priest.
Instead of being thrilled, Caiaphas flew into a rage. He ripped his clothes and demanded of his fellow judges, ‘What other evidence do we need?’ Before the week was out, Jesus was dead.
Meanwhile, Peter’s part in these dramatic events was being played out in the courtyard below. He was about to make a back cover for the book, one that would match Jesus’ prophecy about him.
He was facing a set of questions about his own identity. He didn’t want to answer them but they were insistent. He denied Jesus once…then a rooster crowed. Someone pestered him again and still he denied him. A person nearby said, ‘You’ve got to be one of them. You’ve got Galilean written all over you’.
Peter swore, ‘I never laid eyes on this man’. Then the rooster crowed a second time…and Peter remembered. He went out and wept.
Without the central portion about Jesus identity, we might think Peter’s denial of Christ was made out of sheer fear. But it wasn’t a simple denial. It was a denunciation of what he knew to be the truth. Of all the people in the world at that time, Peter was the very one who’d really understood who Jesus was.
When Jesus had asked his disciples, ‘Who do you think I am?’ it was Peter who answered, ‘You’re the Christ, the Son of the Living God!’ He’d seen him with his spiritual eyes.
Notice the difference between Peter’s words and those of Caiaphas, who said, ‘Are you..?
As I meditated on this story about the true identity of Jesus, the Christ, I wondered if I were like Caiaphas, not fully knowing him. Yes, he’s my Lord and Master, my Saviour. But my Messiah? The Anointed One?
Since then I’ve been more conscious of this role that Jesus plays in my life. I pray differently. I am more aware of his anointing as he walks with me and I ask him more often to let his anointing flow in my life. Jesus, my Messiah.