And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
(Luke 22:39-62 ESV)
Peter hardly thought when the servant girl asked the question. The words, “I do not know him,” spilled out of his mouth as easily as if she had asked him his name.
His temperature rose, but it wasn’t from the heat of the fire. He pulled his cloak a little closer, hoping to watch his Teacher even as he hid his face. The dark of the night was beginning to fade into the pale blue-gray of morning when the second accusation came.
“You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not.”
The heard the words hanging in the morning air before his mind caught up to them. He saw their skeptical faces. He just wanted them to leave him alone.
But then an accusation so specific. This guy has the same accent, they said. He must have been with him, they said.
“Man, I do not know what you are talking about.”
No one really heard the end of his declaration. The rooster’s crow drowned out the sound as it signaled the start of the morning.
Peter looked back to where the Lord was. And he saw. Oh, how he saw. The sadness. The knowing. The certainty. It was the same look he had seen in the upper room when the Lord had warned him – warned him – that this would happen.
Peter was devastated. The bravado he displayed hours earlier had crumbled and scattered under the heat of scrutiny like the ashes of the fire carried away by the cool breeze of a spring morning.
The sounds of his weeping – the deep, heavy sounds of a toughened fisherman broken – carried down the street as he stumbled away.
Peter’s mourning had only begun.