Can you see him there? The night had already erupted into chaos. Jesus had been taken away. The disciples were scattering. There was some semblance of a trial going on. While Jesus stood alone, there is Peter, also alone but for a very different reason.
Not once, not twice, but three times he is questioned while standing at a distance. Each time the question is indeed partly a question, but also an accusation:
“Aren’t you one of the ones with him?”
Each time the answer is curt. To the point. Definitive:
“I am not.”
Surely you can see him there. Surely you can feel the battle within him. Surely you can sense the questions. You can see him there because you’ve been there, just like I have. And, by God’s grace, surely you can see him several weeks later when again he is asked another question:
“What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12).
The differences between Peter at the crucifixion and Peter at Pentecost is stark. Indeed, it’s tough to imagine that the same person who so vehemently denied even the association with Jesus is the same one who stood before the confused crowd and proclaimed the gospel of repentance and salvation. But there he is, both times. And in Peter, we see what happens when we meet Jesus – we see a change in position, in posture, and in proclamation.
Peter was on the outside. He was standing far away so as to not be seen and identified as one of the disciples. But at Pentecost, “Peter stood up with the Eleven.” No longer ashamed to be counted among the believers, he was there, in the thick of the action. So it is with all who encounter the living Son of God. When we do our position changes.
We were enemies of God. On the outside of salvation looking in. Barred from fellowship. But then we were brought in. Given a seat at the table. Welcomed into the family.
But not only does out position change; our posture does as well. For there is Peter, back hunched; voice muffled; head down. And yet there he is with the Eleven, “standing” with them. Such is the confidence that comes when we know we are with the Son of God and when He is with us.
It’s not that bad things won’t happen to us when we are with Jesus; it’s that we recognize that no matter what bad thing does happen it won’t separate us from Him. Our posture changes from coward to courage; from victim to victor; from fearful to friend. We don’t slink in the shadows; we stand in the light.
And with this new position, and with this new posture, so also do we have a new proclamation, just as Peter did. He “proclaimed to them…” Peter knew the message was true; he knew it was real; and he knew it was important. Why not, then, proclaim it? In both cases he was asked a question, and in both cases he responded, but oh, how the response is different.
Feel it today, Christian. Feel it because we are all Peter. And like him, we have a new position, new posture, and new proclamation to make.