After speaking with the disciples, Jesus led them to the garden, where they had gone many times. It is here where Judas betrayed Jesus and sets in motion the last days of Jesus' earthly ministry. The way in which Peter reacted to these events gives us insight into our own lives and walks with God.
“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. (The slave’s name was Malchus.)”
John 18:10 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.18.10.hcsb )
The first thing that we see is Peter as a valiant warrior set on defending the life of Jesus. Peter and the disciples were well outnumbered since we are told that Judas had brought with him a company of soldiers and some temple police. A company of soldiers, by today’s standers, is between 100 and 250 soldiers, not including the temple police. It seems a bold and brave move to attack when they were so heavily outnumbered. Especially when he wasn’t the best swordsman.
After being rebuked by Jesus Peter was still brave enough to follow behind but after entering into the courtyard his bravery left him.
“Then the slave girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you? ” “I am not! ” he said.”
John 18:17 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.18.17.hcsb )
“Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, “You aren’t one of His disciples too, are you? ” He denied it and said, “I am not! ” One of the high priest’s slaves, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you with Him in the garden? ” Peter then denied it again. Immediately a rooster crowed.”
John 18:25-27 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.18.25-27.hcsb )
We see in these passages that Peter is no longer brave and instead is allowing himself to be led by fear. He denied Jesus three times, just like Jesus told him he would. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I would have been braver than Peter was. Most of the other disciples were not even brave enough to follow Jesus into the courtyard. They all went somewhere else and I probably would have gone with the other disciples. It would have been a frightening turn of events.
The first thing that stands out in the way Peter responded makes me think about myself and other Christians. We are sometimes brave at the wrong time. Of course, Peter didn’t know what was going on. Still, it was the wrong time to be brave and should have waited for a signal from Jesus. If Jesus wanted him to fight, Jesus would have led the way into battle. We have the benefit of hindsight in these events, and we also have the benefit of the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is why we should listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit so that we do not show our bravery at the moment. We must be careful that we do not go in front of God’s leading. It doesn’t matter how brave we are if we are doing our own thing instead of listening to God.
The second thing that stands out in Peter’s response is no matter how close we may be in our walk with Jesus; we can still end up denying Jesus when we should proclaiming Him. We can’t be too hard on Peter, because almost all Christians have remained silent when we had the opportunity to proclaim Jesus. Maybe we haven’t straight up denied Jesus like Peter did three times, but have we denied Jesus in other ways? Have we been too afraid to tell others that we are disciples of Jesus? Or, maybe we have denied Jesus through our actions and inactions?
This is why I am so thankful for the grace of God. Peter as we are told later was restored and forgiven by Jesus. This is good news to all Christians who have failed by going before God, or not witnessing when we should have. We are never going to be perfect followers of Christ this side of heaven. My prayer is that these events encourage us all to stand firm and brave for Jesus, overcoming all fear for the sake of the gospel. Just like Peter did. As long as you still have breath in your lungs; it's never to late start again with Jesus.