Movies have a way of transforming us instantly. We watch a James Bond movie and leave the theatre noticing every detail about everyone around us, ready to jump into action at the first sign of danger. We watch a war hero selflessly sacrifice his life for the sake of those around him. Then we leave ready to do the same, certain that we are prepared to answer just such a call.
This was Peter after his last meal with Jesus. He had been caught up in the drama playing out around him. “I will lay down my life for you,” he tells Jesus. But Jesus knows better. This was no movie. This was all too real.
“Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
Ouch. Talk about busting your bubble. It’s easy to watch from a distance and consider ourselves worthy of participation. But when we are the main characters, life seems anything but cinematic. Peter left the theatre ready to risk it all. But as Jesus predicts, his first test ends miserably as he in fact disowns Jesus not once, not twice, but three times.
What Peter promised was not a bad thing. The problem was in his motivation. He was more focused on his own glory than the necessary sacrifice that would have to be made. Certainly, there are moments in life when we are called to do the right thing, the hard thing. But those moments are anything but glorious, let along Oscar-winning performances.
In short, we can be in the movie, or we can watch the movie. But we can’t do both. The choice is up to each of us.