Peter and the disciples have had at least three warnings that Jesus will be betrayed, turned over to the Romans, flogged, and killed, but will rise again.
In spite of these looming thoughts, they experience the miraculous raising of Lazarus from his four-day death tomb. Then they march into Jerusalem with exuberant singing and palm-waving pilgrims who have come for Passover. The next day, the people eagerly gather to listen to Jesus’ teachings. Though some turn away and the Pharisees ask their incessant tricky questions, many people respond favorably. Even a few leaders seem to believe. Perhaps everything will be fine, just fine.
But later, Jesus says to his disciples,
23 The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 27 Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this reason I came to this hour. John 12:23-27
Peter’s mind calls up the warnings—”betrayed, turned over, flogged, killed.” No, this cannot be.
Fast forward to later in the week. Jesus and the disciples are sharing the Passover meal. Jesus teaches and prepares the men, warning and encouraging them. He prays with them and for them. He tells them that where he is going, they cannot go. Peter asks him, “Lord, where are you going?”
36 Where I am going you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” John 13:36-38
But we know Peter’s determined temperament. After their meal, the disciples follow Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus agonizes in prayer while the disciples fall numb with sleep. In the dark of night, Temple guards, along with some chief priests and Pharisees come to arrest Jesus. They move forward.
25 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) John 18:10
So like the impetuous Peter, as he acts on an immediate impulse, grabbing the short sword out of his belt, swinging it up in the air, and slicing off the ear of Malchus in the process. (See my first book, Ears to Hear.) Up he goes, ready to defend Jesus, an honorable act. I’ll show him that I that I’m ready to die for him just as I said. But once again, Jesus brings him down.
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11
Peter has not yet heard what Jesus pointedly and figuratively told the disciples—”I must die. It is the reason I came to this hour.” He must drink the cup of redemption to redeem Peter and the disciples and the Jews and the Gentiles and future generations who believe in Him—namely me and you. It is why Jesus came, to bear your sin and mine on the cross.
As you picture Jesus’ bloodied, beaten body on the cross, see the words stretched across his arms from one hand to the other—”I bear the penalty for your sin.”
~ Joyce ~