The police chief in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said that the three officers slain by the sniper were running towards the threat when it happened. The first responders in the New York Trade Center knew the risk of confronting versus the safety of fleeing danger. Every policeman and fireman on duty lives with that awareness when the call comes or the bell rings. The militiaman rode away from his Vermont home to fight with General Gage against General Burgoyne. He didn’t understand what his wife said as he left. (It’s a tradition that wives keep talking after husbands can’t hear.) When he returned, he found she had said, “Don’t let me hear they shot you in the back.” The ancient Greeks had a motto impressed on every hoplite before battle: either come home wearing your shield, or on it.
John and Simon faced a decision when Jewish thugs manhandled Jesus into the High Priest’s courtyard. Read John 18:15-18. Because he could, John entered the court—noted in yesterday’s blog in another context. Because he couldn’t, Peter waited outside until John secured permission for him to enter.
At that point came the decision. Known as a disciple of Jesus, John accepted the danger and entered the court. Aware of the danger, but deciding to bluff his way through, Simon denied being a disciple of Jesus to the girl on duty. Note: a girl, not a temple soldier. Likely a slave girl, indicating a deplorable lack of security. And note: if John could with impunity be known as a disciple of Christ, Simon couldn’t be in danger. Indeed, had the Sanhedrin really considered Jesus a threat to the nation’s security, they wouldn’t have allowed any of his followers inside. In reality, they considered the disciples helpless followers of a powerful Teacher. With the Teacher removed they knew the disciples would be harmless.
That call to duty in danger presently challenges God’s people more than ever. With opposition to Biblical values and standards increasing; with acceptance of immoral standards rising, Christians have to decide whether to stand and contest the Enemy or remain safe inside our sanctuaries, our faith and our personal experience with Jesus. We can charge forward to the danger like lions hunting hyenas or flee it like rabbits from coyotes. We can risk personal verbal attack, and possible physical violence, if we confront the merchants of deteriorating depravity. Or, by creating a “Jesus and Me” atmosphere of faith, further divorce ourselves from society. The latter will keep us safe, and satisfy for now the clamorous voice of the unconverted. The former will at least cost us significant time, effort and expense—and maybe worse. The question is basic: will we, with John, run to the spiritual threat, or with Simon Peter, from it?