SITTING AROUND THE CAMPFIRE
Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. Mark 14:54 (NIV)
I love a campfire and have sat around many in my lifetime. Whether at the beach after a long hot day, with the promise of hot dogs and s’mores to ward off the tiredness and sun-kissed skin, or the early morning fire while camping with the smell of coffee wafting through the camp site to lure one from the tent. Yes, campfires have fond memories for me.
The context of the above verse is Jesus had been arrested and had been taken directly to the high priest – first He was taken to Annas, the old and very influential high priest (John 18:13-24), then moved over to Caiaphas, the Roman-recognized high priest. Peter did follow Jesus at a distance; with the evening being cold, he scooted up to the fire in the courtyard of the high priest.
Jesus was subjected to a mock trial at this point in the evening (or should I say, early morning?). He was falsely accused, mocked, spit upon as well as many other degrading things. Peter, meanwhile, was staying warm.
I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say he meant well, but while his intentions were good, his actions spoke otherwise. How can we know this? By looking at the text and the subsequent parallel passages.
Who was Peter sitting with around the fire? Who did he choose to share the vigil with? None other than the guards who arrested Jesus. The same guards from the garden of Gethsemane, the same ones who bound Jesus. The same ones who took orders from Jesus’s enemies – the chiefs priests, elders and teachers of the law. Yes, ‘enemies’.
His loved One was in the hands of His enemies, and Peter was sitting with employees of those enemies. Strange.
Moments before in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was sweating drops of blood and Peter was asleep. Moments before Jesus was giving of Himself to His Father and choosing to lay down His life for mankind; denying Himself, and about to pick up His cross. Peter was having difficulty wiping sleep from his eyes. Peter was about his own comfort; Jesus was about ours and our eternal sanctification.
Peter was about flesh; Jesus was about spirit.
How does this look in today’s world? Good question. I have sat around many campfires where I did not belong. I chose ones because they were familiar, easy and comfortable. No cost involved – no time committed, just rest and warmth. And, some of those campfires have been old habits, old friends. Old.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Our old way of life is dead or should be dead. Why do we resurrect it at times? I could say the old adage: old habits die hard, but while it is true to some extent, with Christ and the Spirit in us, we are a new creation. All things are new in us. However, we have to chose to the new. The new walk with Christ, the new life with God leading us. The new to listen to as He leads us in the new life.
Granted it is difficult, but we are not alone.
Peter’s situation is an example of life without the Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit had been promised (John 14:16), but not yet given. Peter was operating in the flesh; while his desire was to follow Jesus and not deny Him, his flesh got in the way. Because the Helper was not inside him leading and guiding him; he was incapable of standing up against the evil that was all around him.
Evil, you say? Yes. The enemy was hard at work to get Jesus on the Cross and Peter had a front row seat. Not only did he witness the kiss of the betrayer (can you imagine that kiss?), but Peter also saw the arrest and came out swinging with his sword. He operated in the flesh. The war he was in was not flesh, but spirit and those weapons are not of this world – his sword was useless. He was trying to live in the kingdom of this world and Jesus was and is of the kingdom of God.
He didn’t know nor realize what he was doing, but after the giving of the Spirit in Acts 2, he got it. Big time. Just look at Acts and the books he wrote. This was the same Peter who was warming himself by the campfire of the enemy. The very same.
When we boast of our weaknesses, the power of Christ rests on us (2 Corinthians 12:19), however when we boast of our strengths, we are an easy target for our enemy to take out.
THE BIGGER QUESTION
How do we tell the difference? How can I operate in the Spirit and boast of my weaknesses? How can I share without over sharing? How can I be real, vulnerable, honest and share without having the attention turn onto self and becoming a pity party?
Definitely a fine line and one in which I walk all the time.
People ask how I am doing. At that moment I have a choice. I can share what is really going on complete with complaints and groans, or I can share the facts and move forward with what God is doing. I want facts shared with me – so I can pray for another. I also want to hear the struggle. I do. I want to journey with another to encourage and embrace the struggle with her/him because whether we want to admit it, God is IN the struggle. He is Sovereign, He allowed the struggle/affliction/suffering to grow us and give us opportunities to become more like His Son.
I have the choice. You have the choice.
Am I going to sit by my enemies’ fire and be dejected? Am I going to go back the way I came? At this point, going back is not an option for me. I have come this far; I am determined to see this thing through to the very end! I mean my whole life for the past 2.5 years has been involved with FEET. Either I learn from this experience, or I need to pack up my ball and go home. Period.
Am I going to follow Christ at a distance, or am I going to grab onto the tassel of His garment and keep pulling until I am in His lap, line of vision, in Him? Am I going to let this struggle change me into something I never thought possible – more beautiful in His sight – or am I willing to allow it to make me bitter and unrecognizable because Christ has been blurred in my life?
I want to be that broken vessel in which the Light – Jesus – shines through.
How about you?
Father God, I do thank You for giving us real-life examples with real people to show us Your goodness and forgiveness. I thank You for being holy. I thank You for calling us to be holy, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power of Your Son that rests upon us in our weaknesses. Lord, please give me eyes to see and a heart to feel Your heartbeat. Please give me ears to hear Your still small voice. Please give me the desire to leave my campfires and to live for You. In the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. AMEN