For N.T. Character Study 35, The Servant Girl Who Challenges Peter, (16 minutes), click on the play arrow. To listen to it later, download by right clicking here, and choose 'save link as'.
- There are other servant girls in the Bible who play significant roles, like Naaman's (2 Kings 5:2-3) and Rhoda (Acts 12:13).
- Today we will look at the servant girl who exposed Simon Peter's cowardice--the time he was ashamed of Jesus.
- She is anonymous -- yet still important.
- The story is found in all four gospels. (Order: Mark, Matt, Luke, John)
The four accounts
- Mark 14:66-70 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus." 68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you mean." And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." 70 But again he denied it...
- Peter plays dumb.
- The servant girl is smarter, and exerts far more effort identifying Peter than Peter does identifying Jesus -- what he should have been doing.
- Matthew 26:69-72 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72 And again he denied it with an oath: "I do not know the man."
- Matthew doubles (blind man healings, demoniacs)
- Some are troubled that the details in the four accounts don't match. Yet the discrepancies don't disqualify the testimony of the evangelists; they actually confirm it, since if they were fabricating the story they would have smoothed out the differences.
- Luke 22:54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, "This man also was with him." 57 But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him."
- It's not that Peter isn't following Jesus at all. Rather, he's "following at a distance" (22:54). Do we do that?
- It's dark, but there's a full moon, yet that wasn't enough for the girl to make out Peter's face. But the fire provides plenty of light for the identification.
- John 18:15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard 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.
- Peter had access because of the other disciple (John?). He'd spoken to the servant girl, whose responsibility was manning the door, so that Peter could be admitted.
- Thus her identification of Peter has credibility.
- Peter warms himself by the charcoal fire. What was he doing? What was he thinking? And how did he feel when the servant girl correctly identified him?
- Mark's account (second reading):
- That's all Mark offers us. Luke and John take us further:
- Triple affirmation in John 21.
- He is reinstated, as Jesus had foreseen: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32)
- Triple sheet with non-kosher animals in Acts 10 -- still tending to be obstinacy?
- Peter is again correctly identified by a servant girl in Acts 12!
- It's not just the major characters of the Bible that we can learn from. Everybody counts. Similarly today, whatever your role in life or in your company or church, you are important.
- The servant girl helped Peter to see where he was spiritually.
- And today she still speaks. She accuses the cowardly, faint-hearted church.
- Rather than hoping others won't notice we are Christians, we should hope that they may quickly identify us -- the sooner to share with them the reason for our hope.
- She challenges me -- and I suspect she challenges you, too.
- Perhaps you'd like to learn from other characters in the N.T. and in the O.T. -- over 100 in all, once both series are completed.