There was nothing in the room to endear it to anyone. The walls were dark and empty, it was cold and there was no-one there. But it was locked and at least alone in this room he didn’t feel frightened. He hadn’t slept for a whole day and he knew that he should be exhausted but there was no chance of him sleeping tonight.
Jerusalem was always going to be dangerous but nothing could prepare him for the day he’d just had. It started with an arrest. His teacher, his guide, his leader, his friend. The person he’d spent the last three years of his life devoted to had been arrested. It all seemed to happen so fast. One minute it was just the group of them together and the next the soldiers were coming to take his friend away. He wanted to resist, he wanted to make it stop but it quickly became apparent that there was nothing anyone could do and so he had to watch as the soldiers led him away.
He decided to follow at a distance but it was obvious that Jerusalem was a dangerous place for him so he kept away and tried to avoid being noticed. But try as he might it seemed that people knew him and now in this room, alone he was forced to face up to the fact that whilst his friend was being tried, whilst his teacher was facing his accusers, whilst his leader was being sentenced to death he had been swearing that he didn’t even know him. He had been frightened, he had been scared but still he couldn’t believe he’d done it. He had thought he would do anything for this man. He had thought that he would willingly die for him but when a girl suggested he was one of his followers he had crumbled and said over and over again that he didn’t even know him! As he pictured each time he’d said he didn’t know him it hit him like a punch in the face. It would be easy to say that he’d panicked. It would be easy to say that he had no choice. But as he looked back he couldn’t deny that he knew exactly what he was doing, that he did it out of fear and that he definitely did have a choice!
It was almost too painful to remember but as the day unfolded the pain only became more and more real. The day itself was a bit of a blur and it seemed that confusion was widespread. But he remembers watching as his friend went from place to place being questioned and he remembers that before he’d really known what was going on the sentence was past and the verdict was death. He remembers a numb disbelief as he watched his friend carry his cross up to the hill. He remembers the despair and pain that swept over him as he saw the nails hammered in and he remembers the fearful hopelessness which swept over him as he saw his friend being taken away to be buried.
He didn’t know what to do. Who knew what would happen next. Would the authorities come looking for him? Were they going to round up his followers and kill them too? What was he to do? He’d never thought of what he’d do when he stopped following this leader. He’d always assumed it was a permanent position but now what? He’d never even considered that it might end and certainly not like this! Somehow he’d decided to come to this room knowing it would be empty and hoping it would be safe.
So there he sat alone with his thoughts. Anger washed over him as he thought of the injustice of it all. Anger at the guards, anger at courts, anger at the executioner, anger at God even anger at his friend. How could he die? How could this happen? But even stronger than the anger was the shame and guilt which seemed to be suffocating him. How could he have been so weak? How could he have been such a terrible friend? Why hadn’t he stood up and been counted? He thought he was better than that and yet when it had come down to it he had abandoned his friend to face his fate alone. As the day ended and reality sank in hopelessness overtook him. His life, his future, his identity and his hope had all been bound up with this man but now he was dead and the dream was over. Sat alone in this room he quickly found himself to be looking at a future with no meaning. He found himself questioning his identity. What sort of a man was he if he could deny his friend so easily and so completely? He found himself searching for hope but finding none and he even found himself looking at life and wondering if there was any point to it anymore! Now that Jesus was dead he was nothing more than a guy called Peter sat in a room in Jerusalem wondering what on earth he should, or even could, do next!