Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Faith in the shadows

A QUIET HERO stepped out of the New Testament shadows this week, giving me a glimpse of steadfast love. It came in the familiar account of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas and desertion by the other disciples.

In this episode I have long identified with Peter, who “followed at a distance.” I have called the Matthew 26:58 reference describing his actions the saddest verse in the Bible: it captures the tension between Peter’s desire to stand with Jesus and his fear of the cost. How many of us feel the same way sometimes?

Peter crumbled when challenged, denying Jesus three times just as He had foretold at the Last Supper. Still, I have always given him credit for at least being in the area. The other disciples had scattered, after all—but not all of them, I realized this week.

As I read the familiar account in John 18:15-17, I noticed for the first time that “Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?’” (ESV, emphasis added).

We don’t know for sure the identity of this other disciple. Some suggest the apostle John, but that seems unlikely, because he would have been well known. And, earlier Jesus had said that all of the 11 would desert him (Matthew 26:31).

Whoever they were, they stuck close as Jesus was led to Annas. Maybe they figured that they wouldn’t be spotted in the crowd. If so, that gamble seems to have been one they lost, because the servant girl’s reference to Peter also being a disciple suggests the other one had been spotted as well.

Or did they feel safe because they were known to the high priest? Did they believe this afforded them some security? Maybe, but it was still a risky move in such a frenzied, lynch-mob atmosphere.

Nameless they may be, but their example of devotion inspires and challenges me.

Photo by maekke on Foter.com/CC BY-NC-ND

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