Caiaphas was the high priest at the time when Jesus was betrayed, and it was to Caiaphas’ house that Jesus was brought and accused of blasphemy against God. To see the dungeon of this house, and the adjoining pit where prisoners were lowered into by a rope to prevent them from escaping, take a look at this short video below. Then read on to find out what else happened that night at Caiaphas’ house, and how God can restore, redeem, and forgive you, too, if you’ve ever felt that you’ve done something against Him.
So what happened at the House of Caiaphas? That’s where Peter denied Jesus three times.
After Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, the guards brought Jesus to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. Jesus was taken inside and tried for blasphemy, while Peter waited in the courtyard outside to find out what was going to happen.
But while Peter was waiting, some people in the crowd recognized him as having been with Jesus. Apparently overcome by fear, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus, not just once or twice, but three times. The Bible says:
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee” she said.
But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:69-74).
This was, perhaps, the worst night in Jesus’ life. But it was also probably the worst night in Peter’s life as well. When Peter realized what he had done, the Bible says, “he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Looking back on the situation, we can forgive Peter for what he did that night—for under the same circumstances, who knows what any of us might have done? And yet I think it would have been harder for Peter to forgive himself. For it was Peter who, just a few hours earlier, at the Passover dinner, said to Jesus:
“Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will…. Even if I have to die with You, I will never disown You” (Matthew 26: 33, 35).
But Jesus knew what Peter was going to do, and mercifully He told Peter ahead of time, speaking words of restoration to Peter even before he sinned. What a gracious Friend and Lord.
Here’s what Jesus said to Peter, also known as Simon, earlier in the night:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31, 32).
Jesus knew that all the disciples would fall away from Him that night, including Peter. But Jesus came to Peter specifically to let him know that He was praying for Him that his faith wouldn’t fail. Then He encouraged Peter to strengthen his brothers when he did turn back.
A church has now been built over the House of Caiaphas. It has been named in honor of Saint Peter and is called “The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu”—although I’m not sure that Peter would prefer the honor, since “gallicantu” means “cock-crow” in Latin, a reminder of the words Jesus spoke to Peter earlier that night:
“I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (Matthew 26:34).
But then again, Peter may truly appreciate the honor, for even though it showed his weakness, it also showed Christ’s strength: to restore those who have fallen far, far from their faith. Jesus’ restoration of Peter continued a short time later on the beach at the Sea of Galilee when, after Jesus died and rose again from the dead, He appeared yet again to the disciples.
Taking Peter aside for a very personal conversation, Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him. The Bible says:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Take care of My sheep.”
The third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15-17).
It’s as if Jesus was giving Peter a chance to redeem himself, saying that He loved Jesus three times, perhaps to counteract the three times had Peter denied Him. And the restoration took hold, for Peter went on to feed Jesus’ sheep in a powerful way, leading the church in Jerusalem for the rest of his life, proclaiming Jesus’ name everywhere he went, and facing threats of death without fear from those who opposed his message.
Perhaps you’ve felt like Peter before on the night that he denied Jesus. Perhaps you’ve felt you’ve done something so horrible, at least in your mind, that you believe Jesus could never forgive you. Maybe you’ve cheated or lied or stolen. Maybe you’ve had an affair or betrayed your family or friends. Maybe you’ve denied Christ in ways that only you and He could fully comprehend.
If so, you might wonder if Jesus could ever forgive you, restore you, and use you ever again.
If that’s the case, I want to remind you today that Jesus knew about Peter’s sins even before he committed them. And He knows about yours and mine. And still, He was willing to die for Peter and you and me, even while we were still involved in our sins. That’s the way that the Bible says God demonstrates His love for us:
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
If you’re wrestling with the idea of forgiveness, and whether or not God can or will forgive you of your sins, I pray today that God will show you His unsurpassing love. I pray that these words from the Bible will wash over you. And I pray that you’ll know that if you ask God for forgiveness, and put your faith in Christ, that He will indeed forgive you, removing your sins from you as far as the east is from the west, and remembering them no more.
As the Bible says:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).
While the House of Caiaphas may stand as a reminder of Peter’s worst possible sin in his life, it also stands as a beacon of hope for all those need a reminder that Christ can restore, redeem, and forgive them, too.
Father, thank You for making a way for us to come back to You when we’ve sinned. Give us the boldness to come back to You again today, leaving our past behind, and walking ahead in the calling that You have on each one of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.