It had to go a certain way.
On that dark night, with a chill in the air, only one man knew this. Another man couldn’t accept it.
Jesus was in Jerusalem and had taken His disciples to a favorite garden. It’s there that high-ranking Jews, afraid of the light, seized Him. They brought with them a cohort of Roman soldiers. A cohort was 600, but it could vary. (John 18:1-11)
Immediately, Jesus called out these Jews for their cowardice. “And Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him … ‘While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.’” (Luke 22:52-53)
Scripture says one disciple drew a sword that night. Do you remember who it was?
Consider your choices and lock in your answer. It’s a famous story.
Here’s the passage: “Then Simon Peter, since he had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus.” (John 18:10)
The answer is No. 2, Peter.
Did you see it? Peter wields his sword with the precision of a warrior, slicing away a man’s ear. Scripture tells us Peter was a strong, muscular man.
This moment was a shot across the bow. A warning to stand down or fight to the death; Peter was prepared to kill.
But our Lord intervenes. Jesus says, “Stop! No more of this.” (Luke 22:51)
Peter didn’t argue, yet he hadn’t come this far to surrender. How could that be right?
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The Jews take Jesus, and Peter follows, watching as Jesus is led into the high priest’s courtyard. Another disciple helps Peter gain entrance, where Peter will deny knowing Jesus three times.
Most think Peter was afraid.
They don’t remember the garden. Peter stood willing to give his life for Jesus. Perhaps what we see in the high priest’s courtyard is Peter trying his best to stay with Jesus. If Peter had been recognized, Peter knew he would have been removed or arrested. Either way, no help to Jesus.
But when the cock crows three times, Peter realizes his mistake. He goes out and weeps. You see a man who could not surrender.
Jesus knows this. The risen Lord prepares a breakfast on the beach so He can talk to Peter. Here’s the scene:
Peter and a few of the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee, fishing. At daybreak, Jesus calls to them from the beach. The disciples then catch a haul of fish so big they can’t lift it aboard: 153 large fish. That’s how we know Peter’s strength; he singlehandedly pulls what may have been a ton of fish in a net to shore and then brings them onto land.
After breakfast, Jesus gently reminds Peter of those three denials in the courtyard:
“[Jesus] said to [Peter] the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was hurt because [Jesus] said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And [Peter] said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’” (John 21:17)
This is the important part. Jesus then tells Peter that the path Peter wants to follow is not going to happen. Instead of leading the charge for Jesus, Peter must surrender and be led by God.
I see moments like this every day. I see them in my life, and I see them in the lives of others. One longs to go down a road, but the path is blocked. It may be a person or a group of people standing in the way.
It happens at work, at home, and most regrettably at church. A roadblock can be frustrating, leading to disappointment, resentment and anger.
But these are times to remember Peter with Jesus. Peter had trained to fight; he had no appetite for surrender. And the Lord said, “Stop! No more of this.”
On that dark night, with a chill in the air, Jesus had to surrender. Jesus knew this, but Peter saw it as defeat. He couldn’t accept it — not for Jesus and not for himself.
Peter failed to ask, “What do you want, Lord?”
It’s a question that seems obvious when you hear it. Nevertheless, those angered by roadblocks let emotion blind them. They forget to ask the question above all questions.
“What do you want, Lord?”