In my last post, we learned that Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan could not stay awake while Yeshua prayed in Gat-Sh’manim. In this post, Kefa Denies His Knowledge of Yeshua three times before the rooster crowd, as Yeshua had predicted.
We pick up our story immediately after Yeshua has been arrested in the Gat-Sh’manim.
15 Shim’ on Kefa and another talmid followed Yeshua. The second talmid was known to the Cohen HaGadol, and he went with Yeshua into the courtyard of the Cohen HaGadol; 16 but Kefa stood outside by the gate. So, the other talmid, the one known to the Cohen HaGadol, went back out and spoke to the woman on duty at the gate, then brought Kefa inside.
Mattityahu tells us Kefa followed at a distance (Matthew 26:58). The unnamed talmid was Yochanan, the author of the Gospel. Yochanan never identifies himself by name but typically calls himself “the talmid Yeshua loved” (see John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2). Since Yochanan knew the Cohen HaGadol, he was able to get himself and Kefa into the Cohen HaGadol’s courtyard.
I like Kefa because, although now all but Yochanan had scattered, he continued to follow Yeshua. But at the same time, we learn from Kefa that if we follow Yeshua from a distance, we are going to get into trouble.
17 The woman at the gate said to Kefa, “Aren’t you another of that man’s talmidim?” He said, “No, I’m not.” 18 Now the slaves and guards had lit a fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it, warming themselves; Kefa joined them and stood warming himself too. ~ John 18:15-18 (CJB)
Although the Cohen HaGadol undoubtedly had many servants, similar cases from antiquity show that the slave girl would have recognized that Kefa was not from the Cohen HaGadol’s household. Kefa would also be clothed differently from the guards. As a servant in an aristocratic household near the Temple, this woman had perhaps been at the Temple and could have seen Yeshua’s talmidim there.
Recall that earlier, Kefa had declared emphatically that he would lay down his life for Yeshua, but Yeshua predicted that he would deny him (see John 13:36-38). This was the time of reckoning. Yochanan then tells us that the slaves and guards were warming themselves. Why was Kefa, not only following Yeshua at a distance but now you are warming yourself at the fires of His enemies?
25 Meanwhile, Shim’ on Kefa was standing and warming himself. They said to him, “Aren’t you also one of his talmidim?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the Cohen HaGadol, a relative of the man whose ear Kefa had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you with Him in the grove of trees?” 27 So again Kefa denied it, and instantly a rooster crowed. ~ John 18:25-27 (CJB)
Mattityahu records that: Kefa remembered what Yeshua had said, “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times”; and he went outside and cried bitterly. ~ Matthew 26: 75 (CJB)
For a talmid to repudiate a teacher was a great humiliation for the teacher. Kefa’s denials here contrasts with Yeshua’s courage (see John 18:20-24). Three denials and the rooster crows!
We learned back in Matthew 26:34 that Yeshua essentially said: “You will hear the cock crow, Kefa because you’re going to mess up.” But we will learn in future posts that Yeshua meant: “Yes, Kefa, you’ve blown it. You have cursed and sworn and denied Me not once but thrice. But a new day is dawning. I’m not through with you, yet.” Following His Resurrection, Yeshua sought out Kefa individually and specifically. He dealt with Kefa in John 21 and commissioned him back into ministry. On Shavuot, it was Kefa who stood up and preached the Word, and three thousand were saved. Kefa became the most prominent emissary in Yerushalayim.
When push comes to shove, will you be a Kefa and deny our Lord? He realized that he had been disloyal to the Messiah and went out and wept bitterly.
Interestingly, this is the last mention of Kefa in the Gospels before he is told of Yeshua’s Resurrection. Was he in the crowd that demanded Barabbas release? Did he walk the Via Dela Rosa to Golgotha? We do not know, but my guess is that he was so ashamed that he dared not show his face in public.
In my next post, Kefa Learns of Yeshua’s Resurrection.