Cowards Can Become Heroes
This is the message of Pentecost – at least, it’s part of it.
For all his bluster and promises of going to die with Jesus, when the chips were down Peter denied Jesus. Worse, he did it three times: denying he even knew the man. And he wasn’t exactly threatened by a bloodthirsty gang of Jerusalem toughs. No, it was simply a young serving girl! What a humiliation! What a prize wimp! We wouldn’t have done that, would we???
The rest of the disciples weren’t much better. When the soldiers led Jesus away, “everyone deserted him and fled.” Mark was only wearing his robe and when a soldier tried to grab him he left it behind in the soldiers clutches and fled. It can be quite cool in Jerusalem on a Spring night, but better risk that than suffer with Jesus.
On the evening of Easter Day this pathetic bunch gathered together “with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.” The idea, eventually put about, that they dreamt up a plot to steal Jesus’ body and claim he had risen from the dead is totally ridiculous. Such an idea could only have got them into more trouble and they wanted to avoid that like the plague. They were miserable cowards.
That evening “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” That had a dynamic effect on them, of course. But still we don’t read of any bravery or heroism. In fact Jesus said: “You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Even experience of the risen Lord wasn’t enough to turn them into heroes.
But when the Spirit came down at Pentecost, Peter the coward went into the market place surrounded by thousands of Jewish people and accused them of crucifying their Messiah! He then preached Christ to them.
And so it continued with numerous acts of heroism and numerous martyrdoms, including Peter’s. Tradition has it he was crucified in Rome and refusing to be crucified like his Lord, asked to be put on the cross upside down.
What made the difference? The dunamis (Greek for “power”) i.e. dynamite of the Holy Spirit.
Now what is it you were afraid to do for God?
© Tony Higton: see conditions for copying on the Home Page