But he said to them, “I swear that I do not know the man you are talking about! May God punish me if I am lying!”
o so angry
at getting caught
not getting our way
there is no stopping
a fume and fuss
when fantasy shards
of deep dreamtime
come suddenly apart
they writhe and contort
explosive in their pain
The curse or punishment Peter is claiming, is against himself—“May I be accursed.”
The Greek ἀναθεματίζειν (anathematizein, to devote to destruction) is an extreme statement that is not only meant to put one literally in danger if not true but to be emotionally compelling, so one is seen as sincere. Peter has pulled out a big stick, probably said in a big voice.
First, Peter claims to be willing to take whatever punishment is meted out for lying. He may well have figured out that, given G*D’s mercy, this would be small potatoes compared with what he would have to live with as a betrayer.
Second, Peter calls upon G*D as a witness to the veracity of his response.
These uses of G*D are familiar responses in every age and system, whether family, religious institution, or governing politics.
This is the third denial of Peter. Denial by denial, feeling more and more trapped and moving further away from Jesus whom he followed before this night and after Jesus’ arrest, Peter escalated his responses from avoidance to vehemence.
At this point we may remember the many people who were healed by Jesus and asked to keep silence about their healing and Jesus’ part in it. They were not able to stay silent but started and continued to blab it wherever they were and to whoever was around. Contrast this with Peter who, when directly asked about his relationship with Jesus, was adamant in denying any connection with Jesus.
Readers may also return to Gethsemane to wonder what prayer Peter might have prayed that would have kept him from getting into the pickle of his present circumstance. Does Mark’s story of Jesus require a lonely wilderness valley at the cross as well as after baptism and during ministry?
Is there anything Peter could have done to express his solidarity with Jesus, not left Jesus on his own and connected Jesus on the cross with Peter as well as with a darkened Creati*n and absent G*D?