Peter – Defense to Denial

          Searching His Word

                       Seeking His Heart

Again, we will see the ups and downs of Peter’s personality.

Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, a favorite place to get away for prayer, but this will be His most agonizing prayer of all as He submits to the will of God. He asks Peter, James, and John to keep watch and pray. The late night and weariness of fear overtake them and they fall asleep even after Jesus pleads with them to keep watch.

Soon they are wide awake when they hear a mob of temple guards, scribes, and Pharisees approaching. Their lit torches cast frightening shadows through the trees while swords clang at their sides.

Jesus questions the intruders. “Who is it you want?” Though at first startled, the guards pick themselves up and push forward. Peter jumps in to defend Jesus. He asks,

“Lord, should we strike with our swords?” Luke 22:49

But in typical Peter-style, he is already swinging his sword and ends up cutting off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest.

Then Jesus answered, No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Luke 22:51

Jesus is arrested and taken away. Before we condemn Peter for his rash behavior, remember two things—his good intention was to defend Jesus. Secondly, other than John, Peter determines to follow the crowd all the way to the high priest’s house. The other disciples flee for their lives.

Jesus is taken first to the previous high priest, Annas, then bound and led to Caiaphas. While Jesus is with Annas, Peter warms himself by a fire with some of the servants. A woman recognizes him and accuses him of being one of the disciples which he flatly denies.

A man recognizes his Galilean accent and repeats the accusation. Again, Peter denies with great emphasis that he doesn’t even know him. About the time Jesus is led through the court yard to Caiaphas, a third person makes the same charge. Peter protests, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” 

Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Luke 22:60-61

Within the course of late night to early morning, Peter has shifted from defending Jesus with a sword to denying him. Now, in despair, he “went out and wept bitterly.” This is an all-time low for our friend.

We reach those low points in our lives—defeats, crushing blows, humiliation, harsh words, bitter attitudes, heart-breaking news. Sometimes we must go through humiliating experiences to become what God intends for us, so take heart, Peter will eventually become that powerful rock like his name. Remember, God named him not for what he was, but for what he could be. Same for you and me.

~ Joyce ~