Looking at the online translation of the Greek into English via BibleHub two things become clearer, the extent of the physical violence done to Jesus at that time, and the extent of the denials Peter made.
The other thing to ponder is the title King of the Jews which Pilate uses. He wasn’t the first one to use that title for Jesus, the archangel Gabriel was possibly the first, viz, ‘He will rule over the house of Jacob for ever (Luke 1:34)’. May this reminder spur us to pray for the descendants of Jacob of our day, that they might come to know and love Jesus as their King.
As soon as Jesus responds to the high priest’s ultimate question, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ with ‘I am’, extraordinary levels of violence are unleashed against Him. For a mortal to say he was God’s equal was blasphemy of the highest order, and beyond outrageous. This is blasphemy as originally understood, not as we refer in everyday speech to the insulting swear words that many people make from the names of God. In their minds there was no way at all that this could be true. Hence the violence.
It starts with spitting on Jesus, then someone winds a cloth around His face to blindfold Him and everyone has a go at hitting Him with their fists. Then when the temple officers come in to take him into custody, the officers slap him in the face.
Peter is close enough to hear the violence unleashed against Jesus. It stands to reason that anyone who gave credibility to this ‘blasphemy’ is going to be a target as well.
Peter’s first denial is relatively simple, ‘I do not know. I do not even understand what you are talking about’.
As he moves from the warmth of the fire pit around to the forecourt of the high priest’s residence, to escape the gaze of the serving girl who accused him of being a companion of Jesus, the cock crowed the first time.
But that wasn’t enough to jolt Peter out of his dark mental space.
We aren’t given the words Peter used for his second denial.
At the third accusation Peter starts cursing and swearing. In our day we use these words interchangeably, so we don’t get the full impact. The word we translate as swearing means the swearing of oaths, something far more serious and emphatic than mere expletives. Something probably along the lines of ‘may God strike me down if what I say isn’t true’ or ‘on my mother’s grave I promise you this is the absolute truth’.
Only then does the second cock crow, and Peter simultaneously remembers what Jesus said to him, and how vehemently he has fulfilled it. These weren’t ordinary denials, they were completely 'burn the bridges of a relationship' denials.
Peter goes into full emotional meltdown.
Jesus was close enough to have heard every word of Peter’s cursing and swearing. It must have hurt Him far more than all the physical violence He received that night.
Yet such is the love of Jesus for Peter (and by extension His love for all of us) that He chose Peter to be His close companion, and to remain a close companion of His, despite knowing in advance the extreme hurt Peter was going to inflict upon Him - albeit under great duress.
He knows the absolute worst we can do, the absolute worst we can be, and yet He is willing to be loving and merciful to us anyway.
When times of despair come upon us, may the Lord Jesus cause us to remember this truth, and to grant us sufficient courage and boldness to seek His pardon and mind-blowing mercy.