While Peter was in the courtyard down below, one of the high priest’s maidservants came up;
see what crowds
as an emperor’s parade
beyond latest memes
under the radar
teas leaves are read
palms wave fortunes
While Jesus is facing a show-trial and is being beaten, tortured, Peter is still sitting contemplating light. He may have been doing so while the guards he was sitting with were summoned to their task.
With his thoughts miles away, a woman draws near to Peter. We can remember other women drawing near to Jesus—a woman seeking her healing from 12 years of bleeding, a Syrophoenician woman appealing for her daughter’s healing, a woman bringing a flask of ointment as an anointing to death.
The patriarchy of that time and this would likely have overlooked her for the very fact of her gender. This social context adds to Peter’s distracted thoughts about betrayal and his continuing to sit at a dwindling fire.
Structurally, we are at another Markan sandwich which puts this scene with Peter right between two false trials. On either side are false witnesses and here, in the middle, there is no witnessing at all, only denial. As a Reader remembers previous times Mark has used the same formula, they are invited to consider how this plays against both the trial before it and the trial afterward.
If this is an action-oriented parable instead of a spoken one, which of Mark’s previous parables would you go back to as a reference point. Is Peter a seed sown on a path, in stony ground, among weeds?
This also brings consideration of the accusers of Jesus and of Peter. Jesus rates the High Priest and the Roman prefect of Judea. Peter gets a maid.
Before the presence of the prestigious, Jesus can be silent and can affirm who he is. Before the presence of the lowly, Peter will capitulate into betrayal upon betrayal. Except for delusions of grandeur, we find ourselves tripped up by ordinary circumstances and ordinary people.