“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.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”” (John 18:10-11, NIV)
Peter was a courageous man. Here we see him pull a sword on a cohort of armed, professional soldiers, in order to protect Jesus. 1 vs. 100s. It may have not been very smart, but it was courageous.
That’s an interesting word. It comes from the ancient French “corage” which means “heart.” It carries the idea of following the inner impulses of one’s heart. In that sense, we can see that Peter’s heart was to protect Jesus no matter what. He told the Lord earlier that night: “I’m ready to go with you to both prison and death! (Luke 22:33).”
Jesus, on the other hand, displayed another kind of courage. He rebuked Peter, not because he didn’t appreciate what Peter was trying to do, but because Jesus knew the cross was necessary. The impulse of his heart was not to save himself, but to “drink from the cup”…no matter how bitter.
Earlier, Peter had rebuked Jesus for his talk about the cross. “This shall never happen to you!” Peter told Jesus. Again Jesus corrected the courageous disciple: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matt. 16:22-23).
Eventually Peter experienced the trauma of Jesus’ crucifixion, the glory of his resurrection, and the empowering of Pentecost. And it changed him. God took the raw courage of this disciple and refined it. Peter’s courage was no longer about the things of men (safety, protection, revenge), but the things of God. Peter would later write: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV)
That courage would lead him to great heights as an Apostle of the Lord, and eventually his own crucifixion.
Sometimes our growth in discipleship isn’t God giving us brand new character traits. Sometimes discipleship involves Jesus taking the raw material of who we already are and refining it…transforming it for his purposes. That’s what he did with Peter. Will you let him do that in you?
Join us Sunday for our sermon series “The Twelve” as we talk about Peter’s process of discipleship.