Meanwhile a scene is being enacted within ear-shot of Jesus that hurts Him more than these vulgar insults. Peter is getting into bad shape. John was acquainted in the high priest's house-hold, and, going directly in without striking his colors, is not disturbed. Peter gets as far as the gateway, leading through a sort of alley into the open courtyard, around which on the four sides the palace was built. Here, as a stranger, he was refused admittance, until John comes to speak a word for him. In the center of the open court a fire was burning to relieve the cold of the night, and about this was gathered a mixed crowd of soldiers and servants and attendants. Peter goes over to the fire, and, mingling with the others, sits warming himself, probably with a studied carelessness. The maid who let him in, coming over to the fire, looks intently into his face, and then says, |You belong to the Nazarene, too.| Peter stammers out an embarrassed, mixed up denial, |I don't know what you mean -- I don't understand -- what do you say?|
Taken unawares, poor Peter mingles a lie with the denial. As soon as possible he moves away from the fire toward the entrance. It's a bit warm there -- for him. He remembered afterwards that just then the crowing of a cock fell upon his ear. Again one of the serving-maids notices him and says to those standing about, |This man was with Jesus.| This time the denial comes sharp and fiat, |I don't know the man.| And to give good color to his words, and fit his surroundings, he adds a bit of profanity to it.
An hour later, as he moves uneasily about, he is standing again by the fire. Something about him seems to make him a marked man. Evidently he has been talking, too. For now a man looking at him, said, |You belong to this Jesus. I can tell by the twist of your tongue.| Peter promptly says, |No.| Lying comes quicker now. But at once another speaks up, who was kin to the man that temporarily lost his ear through Peter's sword. |Why,| he said, |certainly I saw you with Him in the garden.| Again the denial that he knew Jesus mingled freely with curses and oath. And even as he spoke the air was caught again with the cock's shrill cry. And then Jesus, in the midst of the vulgarity being vented upon Him, turned those wondrous eyes upon Peter. What a look must that have been of sorrow, of reproach, and of tenderest love. It must surely have broken Peter's heart. The hot tears rushing up for vent were his answer. Those tears caught the light of love in that look, as he goes away into the night and weeps bitterly. Those bitter tears were as small, warm rain to a new growth within.