By John Rieping | All rights reserved | Published 29 March 2013 in The Madera Tribune
Temple guards bound and led the rabbi Yeshua (Jesus) by torch and moonlight down into the Valley of Josaphat and then back up into the metropolis of Jerusalem, which sat upon a limestone plateau.
At their teacher's arrest, Yeshua's followers scattered. One young man had dared to follow, so a guard seized him by the linen cloth he wore. The panicked man pulled free of it and ran naked into the night. Other disciples, no less desperate, likely hid among the burial caves of the Mount of Olives as fear of death overpowered dread of the unclean dead.
Still others probably climbed the mount to see what might be seen of the city's doings before recovering their courage and returning to its embrace in search of news.
Loud knocks surely roused Yeshua's mother, Mirriam (Mary), that night but they could not compare to her sobs after hearing what the beloved disciple had to tell. Her grief surpassed his shame and anxiety. He could not let her go out alone. The mother ached with all her might for her endangered child and the hour of darkness could not daunt her.
Kepha (Aramaic for "rock" or Peter) too regained his resolve and so he shadowed his rabbi from a safe distance.
As they passed through the slums, those exposed to the heavens would have been rebuffed by the armed guards if they sought glimpses or information of the encircled prisoner. In time, murmur and lament would spread among the poor, who had so welcomed the healing and hope the rabbi brought. Pleas to men and God for mercy seemed unheard.
Yeshua's captors hastened onward to the home of the priest Ananas ben Seth (Annas, son of Seth). By now, Kepha was not the only one following his rabbi. The other, Johanan (John), followed the crowd into the courtyard of the palace, for the household knew the young man. But the gate closed to Kepha until Johanan convinced its keeper to let him in.
As Johanan watched his rabbi's interrogation within, Kepha huddled with others about a charcoal fire in the courtyard, for the night had grown cold. Talk of Yeshua's arrest dominated here as it had elsewhere among those not sleeping.
As the hours passed, the gossip had shifted from shock to scandal. The troubled had voiced their doubts and found no answers to calm them. Suspicions grew. Perhaps the rabbi was yet another false messiah and beneath all the hype about his good words and deeds lay only corruption and hypocrisy. The Galilean may have been exposed at last. How could we have been so foolish? Shame fed anger.
The words battered Kepha's heart and he felt like the only sane man left. Why couldn't they recognize the obvious truth? He stared into the glowing coals and finally blurted his thoughts: no, Yeshua isn't like that. He's a good and loving man. You're twisting everything.
Kepha looked up and all eyes were on him as though he were the lunatic. The gatekeeper expressed her surprise: "You're not one of his disciples, are you?" (cf. John 18:17)
He felt keenly his solitude against the many. Would they turn on him? "No, I'm not!" he replied. Spying another fire in the outer court, Kepha excused himself to seek its safety.
But the woman, who was no fool, followed him and told bystanders: "He is one of them." (Mark 14:69)
Annoyed and scared, Kepha repeated his denial. Listen to that Galilean accent, someone remarked in agreement with the gatekeeper. A fellow servant and kinsman of Melek (Malchus) peered at Kepha and asked: "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?" (cf. John 18:26)
To defend Yeshua, Kepha had tried to kill Melek in that garden, though his clumsy strike slashed only his ear. Now he stood among Melek's co-workers, friends and family. His vulnerability could have been no greater. So Kepha cursed and swore by God: "I know not this man of whom you speak!" (cf. Mark 14:71)
Taken aback by his passion, the others said nothing, and into that silence burst a rooster's cock-a-doodle-doo. Just as the rabbi foretold, Kepha realized.
He blindly pushed his way out into the streets, his chest convulsing as he pierced the night with weeping.
The inquiry of Ananas complete, guards escorted Yeshua to the palace of the priest's son-in-law, Yosef ben Kayafa (Joseph, son of Caiaphas). The locale was prudent, for it held a basement dungeon and sat only 100 paces from Pontius Pilatus' Hall of Judgment.
As ben Kayafa had already predicted, the rabbi would die so that the people might be spared.