Episode:Jesus Faces Death—Brought to Trial (Part 4)

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January 21, 2020 [Paper 184:2, p. 1980]

Not until the cock crowed did it occur to Peter that he had denied his Master. Not until Jesus looked upon him, did he realize that he had failed to live up to his privileges as an ambassador of the kingdom. And he never fully believed that he could be forgiven until he met his Master after the resurrection and saw that he was received just as before the experiences of the tragic night of the denials.

Listen to the broadcast

Keywords: Urantia, Jesus, Peter's Fear, Peter's Denials, Peter's Agony


Summary by Kermit

Commentary after Review

We reprised a discussion about the comparative degrees of civilization between the Roman empire and the Jewish nation, in light of the Roman captain extending to John the status of something akin to a Roman counselor, thus enabling him (John) to accompany Jesus unmolested through the arrest and trial phase of his final earthly ordeal. In general the Romans--because the roots of their civilization extend much further back in time than do the Hebrews’--have evolved a more stable civilization, less vulnerable to disruption at the hands of the zealously animated groups or individuals. This led to further discussion of good and bad motives in relation to true and false intentions and actions resulting therefrom. Consult the archive of the broadcast for the full discussion.


184:2. Peter in the Courtyard

As the story goes forward we note that the midwayer account serves to sort out the many discrepancies and omissions in the gospel accounts of these events. A necessary technique in doing this is the non-linear narrative. Immediately applicable here is the confirmation that Peter’s denials occur in the courtyard of Annas and not that of Caiaphas.

It was through John’s acquaintance with the portress that Peter was admitted to the courtyard. Peter felt very much out of place as well he should inasmuch as Jesus had instructed only John to accompany him, directing the other apostles to avoid unnecessarily exposing themselves to physical danger.

Peter’s fear for his very life began to rise as he was recognized by the portress, and other servants as a follower of Jesus and approached inquiringly of his association with Jesus. With each approach by the servants Peter becomes increasingly vigorous and insistent in his denials of such association. Only with the crowing of the cock immediately upon his fifth denial does Peter recall Jesus’ warning earlier that very night that he would deny his master several times before the cock crows. Much is made in the gospel accounts of the specificity of Jesus’ warning regarding the number of times he would deny the Master as prophecy. This narrative does not reinforce the prophecy aspect of Jesus’ warning wherein he says that Peter will deny him three or four times, as he actually denies him five times. And as Peter awakens to the reality of the situation, with a heavy heart and overcome with guilt, Jesus is led out of Annas’s palace on the way to his trial before Caiaphas, passing before Peter giving him “such a glance of commingled pity and love as mortal man had never beheld in the face of the Master.”

Here the midwayers close the loop on the non-linear narrative. We inferred that Peter’s hour plus isolation in the cold on the porch, attempting to avoid contact with his accusers coincided with Annas’s confused absence from Jesus in his spacious audience chamber within the palace.

The final three paragraphs of the section provide the reader with something entirely missing from the gospel versions. The midwayers describe in detail the content and state of Peter’s mind. Such a glimpse allows each of us to reflect on the meaning of these things for ourselves. Strong parallels exist in Peter’s and Judas’s actions. Each can be seen to take the path of least resistance. This is the natural course taken by the indolent. Genuine religious living involves taking a path of greater resistance, an unnatural path. Peter was fortunate that Jesus’ warning was so specific. He was awakened from his fear fog by the crowing of the cock. Jesus’ glance further convicted him of his failure to live up to his privileges as an ambassador of the kingdom.

The midwayers emphasize a general warning for each of us concerning the natural tendency to continue on an ill-chosen path through justification and rationalization.

Finally, concerning forgiveness. Peter could not believe that he could be forgiven until his encounter with Jesus following his resurrection whereupon he was received by Jesus just as before. We talked further about how God does not have to forgive in that He does not take offense in the first place.


Notes by Brad

  • How was it the Romans in these times were a "civilization?"
    • They trace their lineage back to the Andites, the long-ago beginning of upstepped civilization.
    • Cultural nurture.
    • Augustus seems to have been positively affected by the spiritual quickening in and around Jesus' time. He's not a run-of-the-mill ruler.
    • Perhaps the Greek philosophic objectivity and clarity they brought helped in this.


  • Children (of God) shouldn't play with spirit (fire).
    • There is no such thing as good intentions. Good is a spirit word. Intentions are outer life.
    • There are good motives and bad motives, though.
    • But even a good motive does not innately lead to true intentions. That takes wisdom, not ignorance.
    • Translating an ideal to an idea is just as fraught. How big is your view of the big picture?
    • One approach: start small, or start with yourself. Have some temperance (i.e., patience, self-neutrality)


  • It's important to not double down on a bad motive. If you know better and persist anyway, things will decline precipitously.


  • Some clarifications on historic problems in the Bible narrative
    • Our authors have no problem with non-linear storytelling. We shouldn't either, we've all seen movies that do this.
    • For 2000 years this story has been difficult to place in the timeline.
    • It takes a human to read the 5th ER, not a machine, though, because non-linearity needs you to be on your guard.
    • Read and if the big-picture of the text begins to seem absurd, then you should back up and find the error you made.


  • Peter felt out of place in the courtyard.
    • That happens all the time with immature people in out-of-place settings. Fear takes over. Higher wits are lost.
    • And his mind is racing, trying to make sense of events.


  • Peter is not a human right now. Fear has made him barely a fancy animal.
    • And the "mischievous" girl in the courtyard can easily detect his neurosis here.
      • Is "mischievous (mischief) akin to "mistake"? Is this woman doing something wrong by needling Peter? Setting aside conformity with the cosmos, to play around a little bit?
      • She's not just playing, she's delighting in someone else's pain. Which is disruptive to one's mind.
      • And yet, in supremacy, she's playing the part quite well here.
    • He sure isn't thinking clearly! He thought leaving would attract attention? That doesn't even make sense.


  • Concerning "pity and love" that Jesus gave Peter in a look
    • Pity is far lower in the levels of meaning than fatherly love.
    • HOMEWORK: See [28:6], the memories of mercy, for some context about pity.
    • And Peter subsequently was in agony. He was a rare combination of "courage and cowardice," and one can imagine that can produce agony in the mind of a man.


  • In some ways, Peter resembles Judas Iscariot.
    • Don't be so quick to sanctify Peter. The ONLY thing in his mind was how clever he was. How is that not at least as problematic as Judas's thoughts?
    • Judas self-praised himself. So did Peter after all these denials.
    • Can you extend fatherly love to Judas? an ignorant little child of God? He and Peter were not so different in many ways. Cowardice was in them both.


  • Your material mind naturally follows the path of least resistance--just as physical laws do this.
    • To be righteous is to follow a path of most resistance. Be unnatural.
    • reflect on this for your spiritual life, your political life, etc: "All too often one’s own mind tends to justify continuance in the path of error when once it is entered upon."


  • Did Jesus forgive Peter? He didn't need to; he never took offense.
    • Provocative: can your love be so fatherly that it doesn't need to forgive?
    • Fancy animals are all about forgiveness; true humans never take offense in the first place.
    • Sorry, Alexander Pope, but "to err is human, to forgive divine" might need to be reconsidered in this light.