It was after midnight and a biting cold wind was coming in off the hills. The guards were huddled around a small fire that was burning in the courtyard. They were so engrossed in conversation about the prisoner that had been dragged in earlier that night, that they hardly even noticed when Peter came to share the warmth. But someone else noticed. A servant girl, who worked for the High Priest, identified him as ‘one of those men’ who had been seen with this Jesus of Nazareth.
“Rubbish! I don’t know what you are talking about”, he blurted out as he moved away from the warmth of the fire. He went and stood in the courtyard entrance, hoping to hide in the shadows. It didn’t help. By now, the servant girl was telling everyone about him. “This man is definitely one of them!”, she insisted. Peter denied it again.
Before long, some others came and confronted Peter. “You must be one of them. Your a Galilean.” It was his accent that had given him away, and Peter knew then that he could be in real trouble. Like a wild animal cornered, he exploded in defence. “A curse on me if I’m lying and a curse on you if I’m telling the truth… I don’t even know this man your talking about!”
For a moment there was silence, except for the crackling of the fire. And then, somewhere not too far from the courtyard, a rooster began to crow. Peter had heard it earlier whilst he was standing in the courtyard entrance. All of a sudden, he remembered something that Jesus had said that very night before they walked to the Mount of Olives, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
Peter’s world came crashing down as the words of Jesus, his teacher and his friend, echoed in his head. Slowly, the realisation of what he had done overtook him. He broke down and cried like never before. This was his darkest hour.
Somewhere not too far away, Jesus was waiting patiently for dawn. As he waited, he offered up a silent prayer for his friends. As he prayed, Peter’s face flashed before his eyes. One day he would see them again, just as he had promised them he would.