On August 21, 2015, a terrorist gunman started shooting in a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. Three young American: Spenser Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos rushed the attacker and subdued him. Their quick actions saved countless lives. A few weeks later, a gunman began to shoot into classrooms at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. While people were rushing out of the building to escape the gunman a lone man, Christopher Mintz rushed into the building to try to stop the shooter. Mintz was shot seven times but survived. His action was credited with saving lives.
We wonder what we would do in similar circumstances. Would we rush to subdue the gunman or flee with the others? What would we do if the lives of others and our lives were on the line? We’d like to think that we would do the heroic thing; that we would be willing to lay down our lives in order to save the lives of others. If we are honest with ourselves we might not act heroically and we fear that we might react in a cowardly manner.
Peter was put on the spot. Jesus had just been arrested. He was standing before the chief priests and the Sanhedrin. While Peter warmed himself around a fire and waited to see what would happen a servant girl accused him of being with Jesus. Peter denied that he was with Jesus. In short order Peter denied Jesus three times. Peter was not the hero, he was a coward.
Maybe we’d be like Stone, Sadler, Skarlatos and Mintz. Maybe we’d be like Peter. We won’t know until the critical moment. What we do know is that even if we run for safety, Jesus is with us to forgive us and to welcome us back into his family. Whether we are heroes, cowards or anything in between, we are the Lords.
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.