Sitting at the Fire
Sitting at the Fire
Words of Faith 1-31-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.  But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.
We talked last time about the way Peter's denial started. Peter had proclaimed his loyalty to the death. He even struck the servant of Caiaphas with a sword. But when Jesus was actually arrested, Peter followed at a distance. A faith response from Peter might have offered to die with Jesus, trusting that if Jesus did not desire this, He would intervene. Instead, Peter "followed at a distance."
As Jesus was delivered to the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, there was a gathering of people out in the courtyard. These people in the night were probably an odd mixture of a few soldiers, the servants of the High Priest's house, and some "people of the land"-- people who did not have a place to go and worked daily labor.
Some may have been there out of a morbid curiosity concerning the conflict that was brewing. Because of the commotion that was going on, the servants were waiting, the soldiers were watching, and the others were just curious to see what would happen. This was not a group that was sympathetic to Jesus. These were probably some of the same people who would mock Jesus within the next few hours.
The temperature at night in March and April, the season of the Passover, can easily be in the 40s. This odd mixture of people kindled a fire in the courtyard. It was with this group that Peter tried to blend in. He wanted to watch and see what was going on with Jesus, but now stand out. Peter sat down with them around the fire. Mark's Gospel tells us that Peter warmed himself by the fire with them. There is a powerful image there.
Peter had some better choices. He could have sought out the other disciples to pray and seek strength. Jesus could have gone to be alone with the Lord in prayer as Jesus had done in His difficult hour. He could have been seeking understanding of this situation from God. Instead, Peter was warming himself by the fires of the worldly mockers. The truth is that if we have followed Jesus at a distance, it will be easier to sit down in the midst of the crowd. Warming ourselves around the fires of the world is easy. Once we sit down among the rejecters and try to blend in, we are ripe for denial.
This is particularly difficult in our day-to-day living. We are called to be IN the world but not OF the world. We are to be a witness to the world, but we are not to warm ourselves or comfort ourselves with the things of the world. We are to find our comfort and warmth in Christ alone. When the crisis comes, it will be difficult to leave the comfort of the world. We will tend to seek the counsel and influence of rejecters.
The opening words of the book of Psalms come to mind. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers" (Psalm 1:1-6). Peter was now ripe for denial. He was frightened, discouraged and confused. He was finding warmth around the fires of the worldly mockers and rejecters.
This is a good place for self-examination with the Holy Spirit. We all must live to some degree in the world. We may be called to be very involved in the world as light and salt to the world. But we must be cautious not to warm ourselves at the fires of the world. We are supposed to stick out, not blend in.
Lord, help me to walk today through the difficult areas of my life carefully. Help me to be in the world as a witness but not to warm myself at the fires of the world. Help me to find comfort only in You. In Jesus' name.