Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Hitting Bottom

Pain is a great teacher.

John 18:15–18

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”

He said, “I am not.”

Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.

John’s account includes a detail the other three gospels do not—Peter’s first denial of Jesus was somewhat earlier than the other two.

But there’s a detail in this passage that makes it all the more shocking. It’s the word, “also” (και “kai” in Greek). The servant girl’s use of the word “also” implies that the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard, had told her that he was one of this Man’s disciples.

Remember, Jesus convinced the detachment of troops and officers to not arrest anyone besides himself. This held even after Peter’s outrageous crime of cutting off someone’s ear. So, the disciple who was known to the high priest felt no need to conceal his identity.

This makes sense. The crowds following Jesus have numbered in the thousands. The chief priests and Pharisees don’t see them as the problem—only Jesus. Peter’s cowardice is completely uncalled for.

Peter will go on to make a great many mistakes that day. His first mistake was going into the courtyard. If he doesn’t want to be identified, he shouldn’t go where there are a lot of people.

And if he’s going to be with that many people, he should stay out of the light. Peter joins the group warming themselves by the fire. Campfires throw off a lot of light. Why is Peter even there? Did he enter the courtyard to get warm or to follow Jesus? What are his priorities?

Blame it on lack of sleep, but Peter is having an incredibly off night. The stage is set for his hitting rock bottom moment.


Hitting rock bottom is a painful, but valuable, part of growing up. No one starts out mature. We all do things we regret, and the pain of these things is a great teacher.

The Bible is full of examples of people learning painful lessons, because the Bible is full of people. We can learn a great deal by studying their mistakes, so that we don’t have to make the same mistakes ourselves.

More on this after Peter’s other two denials.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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