“Scenes from the passion” for Sunday, March 14, 2021. Photo by Tron Le on Unsplash.
And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. (Mark 14:54)
A crackling blaze in the hearth feels so good on a chilly night. Camping just doesn’t feel right without flames flickering in a fire ring. A stressful day melts away with a glass of wine as a few logs burn in your backyard fire pit.
As he shakes off the shock of Jesus’ arrest at Gethsemane, Peter waits just outside the high priest’s house, innocently warming his hands around the fire with the guards. What was going through his mind? Did he regret fleeing the scene just a few moments ago? Did he think he would have another chance to fight alongside his master? Was Peter still determined to die rather than turn his back on Jesus? Was he trying to hear what was going on inside?
In a world where many are concerned about privacy, it’s not hard to eavesdrop on personal conversations. I’ve sat in restaurants and coffee shops, pretending to be engaged in work on my laptop, listening to job interviews, sales pitches, employee evaluations and contract negotiations. If I was so inclined, I could learn your PIN simply by watching as you entered it to pay for your groceries. This digital age makes it easy to learn a lot about visitors to our worship services long before I follow up with them. I know our visitors check me out, too. It’s both helpful and frightening.
I think that’s what Peter was doing. He was playing it cool, simply being an innocent bystander, taking in as much as he could. If there was another scuffle, Peter would be right there to fight. If Jesus were released, Peter would be there to debrief. This tough, water-walking, Christ-confessing, clean-footed fisherman from Galilee would be ready when the moment was right. The night was chilly, the fire was warm, the guards suspected nothing, and he was ready.
Are you ready? Ready to be faithful? Ready to give a reason for the hope you have? Ready to defend your faith?
We all like to think so. We all like to think that the simple truth of the gospel will win the day. Tell that to the many who have lost their lives for their faith. Tell that to Jesus who would be crucified within hours. You and I aren’t ready. We’re not ready at all.
And that’s OK. Really, it is. Do you think Jesus doesn’t know that? Why do you think he came and died for you? It’s because you don’t have what it takes to be what you need to be. But he does. And he will do it for you.
Heavenly Father, I’m not ready. Thank you for giving me the chance to listen in on all Jesus has done for me. Amen.