All four Gospels (Matthew 26:69-71; Mark 14:66-69; Luke 22:56-59; John 18:16-17) record the episode of a couple of servant girls questioning and making statements about Peter before his denial of Jesus the Christ. Besides the fact that they were servants, we don’t know anything else about them, and they aren’t mentioned any more in Scripture.
1. The servant girls were witnesses to Peter’s infamous denial of Christ. In Matthew, the first servant girl said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” The second girl said to other people who were standing around, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” John writes that one of the servant girls didn’t make a statement of fact, but set forth a question to Peter, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” From their speech, it is apparent that these girls knew who Jesus the Christ was. They had heard about Him or perhaps even seen Him before, and they had also seen His disciples with Him. Maybe they wanted to know why the famous Nazarene was on trial and why none of His disciples were there to support Him.
The Gospels don’t record what the girls’ reaction to Peter’s denial was. If they were believers in Christ, they may have been shocked at his adamant refusal to be associated with the Savior. It may have caused them to question their faith. But if they were not already believers in Christ, his denial may have given them reason to never believe in Christ. They would have good reason to think: If one of Christ’s own disciples refuses to stand by Him, why should I?
Many times, our opinions and perspectives of people are formed by the words and behavior of their friends. If we had been witnesses to Peter’s denial, what would we have thought of Christ? We probably would have thought that He was guilty of something, that He was all the negative things the Pharisees and other religious folk accused Him of being. Why else would Peter be ashamed to be identified as one of His disciples? In hindsight, however, we see that Peter’s fear caused him to disown his Savior. We see that Christ was a perfect Man and that the only crime He was found guilty of and crucified for was the crime of love.
When it comes to people, it is fine to form perspectives of them based on the words of others. But when it comes to Christ, our view of Him should be shaped by His own words which are found in the Bible. The flawed actions and hurtful statements of others about and toward Christ does not give us reason to lack faith in Him. Because no one else can believe in Him for us, we must each come to a decision about Christ on our own. In Wounded by God’s People, Anne Graham Lotz writes:
Those who have been the most hurtful, those who have been the most unkind, those who have betrayed, slandered, and undermined me have been those who have called themselves by God’s name. They have been considered Christians by themselves and by others. Yet they have been men and women whose words and behavior are inconsistent with what they say they believe and contradict what God says…As painful and devastating as wounds inflicted by God’s people can be, they have made me more determined to live out what I believe authentically. I am deeply motivated to know God. I want to know Him as He truly is, not through the distorted reflection of those who called themselves by His name.
Peter considered himself a disciple of Christ. Others considered him a disciple of Christ. But his words of denial said otherwise. We can hope that the servant girls did not allow this distorted reflection to shape their faith, but instead became determined to know God as He truly is.