As I think about this week, the one leading from a triumphal entry to a cross and an empty tomb, I was stopped as I read John 18. Peter, that impulsive one who had just a few hours earlier felt the need to defend Jesus and lopped off the ear of a soldier, now stood waiting to see what would happen to the man he followed and claimed he would not deny.
The scripture says he followed Jesus, along with another disciple, and since the other disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus while Peter “stood outside at the door.” He found himself on the outside looking in. Looking in at the one who changed his life, the one who saw more in him than anyone else, the one who knew him and loved him anyway–that one. As he looked in, not really in the game, just gazing to see what would happen next, he allowed doubt to enter in the form of a question, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” and as doubt does, he quickly answered “I am not.”
The servants and officers of the high priest had built a fire to warm themselves. Peter found himself drawn to the chatter, the crackling and warmth of the fire, hoping to be included rather than stand out. He inched his way toward them and could hear the questions, the sarcasm and ridicule of the one called Jesus. He hoped they would not notice him. He had left the place of being on the outside looking in to ‘standing and warming himself’, hoping to blend in. Again, one of the servants questioned him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” and doubt raised its ugly head once again. He denied it and said, “I am not.”
In both instances Peter is close, close to the savior but not engaged. First he is standing alone at the door looking in and then he is standing with the group by the fire hoping to blend in and stay warm. In both locations he is close enough to see what’s happening but far enough away to play it safe. As Good Friday and Easter Sunday approach, Where Do You Stand?