“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 17, 2022. Photo by Mulyadi on Unsplash
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” (Luke 22:54-56)
Since I’ve lived in my community for nearly twenty-six years, I get recognized a lot.
At the Chick-fil-A drive up window, a young lady hands me a drink and asks, “Are you Pastor Bill? I went to your preschool when I was little!” Or at the bank where some of the church members work. At a restaurant, where a kind friend paid for my drink refill. A barista at Starbucks was once in my confirmation class. I knew the trainer at Marineland who helped us swim with the dolphins. I run into folks I know at the doctor’s office, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the veterinarian, and movie theaters.
Of course, there are places where you hope no one will see or recognize you. Like when you are wheeling a grocery cart out of the liquor store. Or when you’re all bandaged up after a long day at the dermatologist. Or when you’ve grabbed your rebellious child by the hand and dragged them out of the store kicking and screaming. Sneaking into the library to return some very overdue books.
Or like Peter, when you’ve quietly followed Jesus, who has been arrested and taken to the high priest’s house at night. It’s dark and he’s keeping his distance. He’s from Galilee and the city is full of people from all over Israel. No one is going to recognize him, even if he can be seen in the light of the fire.
Until someone does. Where had the servant girl seen Peter with Jesus? In the garden where Jesus prayed? When Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem? In the temple when Jesus was teaching? He didn’t know her. But she recognized him.
This is an awkward moment. They’ve arrested Jesus. Would they come after his followers? Was it safe for the twelve to be in Jerusalem? Even after the resurrection, they would hide behind locked doors.
Have you ever pretended not to see someone at the store so you wouldn’t have to stop and talk with them? Once you’ve seen them, avoiding eye contact, you quickly turn down an aisle and disappear into the crowd.
Poor Peter doesn’t get a chance to do that. He’s been spotted. For him it feels like a “I know what you did last summer” moment. And there’s nowhere to hide. Her comment was probably harmless. But I’ll be Peter felt conspicuous.
We love our faith and we love our Lord, but that means we’ll find ourselves in places and situations where we just don’t fit in. Most of the time, no one really cares, but we still feel conspicuous. Yes, we know how Peter felt.
Lord, I just don’t fit in. Why does that feel so good and so bad at the same time?