“Peter, put away your sword!” The last words Jesus spoke to Peter were a rebuke. In the torch-lit garden, surrounded by hundreds of soldiers, Peter, alone, had defended Jesus. The closest enemy, and unsuspecting too, was Malchus, the servant of the High Priest. In an instant, Peter flailed his sword at the head of Malchus, but when Malchus instinctively ducked, Peter’s sword glanced off the side of Malchus’s head removing only his right ear.
Jesus and his disciples had been completely non-combative up to this point. During all previous altercations, even when an angry mob was about to kill them, they never resorted to violence. This action of Peter must have been alarming for the group of soldiers who planned for a peaceful arrest.
Rebuking Peter, Jesus turned to help the man that had come to arrest Him. Luke tells us that Jesus reached over and touched Malchus’s ear, healing it. Jesus had not come to kill, but to be killed. He had not come to rescue Himself, but to offer Himself a ransom. He did not want to resist, He wanted to redeem.
As the other disciples departed with fear into the night, Peter followed Jesus closely, watching from a distance as He was led first to Annas, and then to Caiaphas. When Jesus was taken into the house of Annas, Peter subtly moved to enter the courtyard. As he entered, he was met by a young girl that was in charge of the door. Immediately, she recognized Peter as one of Jesus’s disciples. Without hesitating, she asked Peter a question that he had not mentally prepared for, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’s disciples?”
He was ready to fight to the death for Jesus. He was ready to make the enemies of Jesus pay for their wickedness. He was ready for everything, except a probing, untimely question from a young girl. In defensive reflex, he stuttered out, “I’m not!” A few moments later, again, he was accused of following Jesus. Now, surrounded by people favorable to the High Priest and hateful to Jesus, Peter was mortified. He had not been ready for this kind of mental torture. The moment of gravity came when Jesus was moved to Caiaphas’s house. It was Caiaphas’s servant whose ear Peter had previously removed with a glancing sword blow. Now, Peter drew near to the property.
As Peter stood warming himself, John tells us that one of Malchus’s kinsmen stood next to Peter, and immediately recognized him. Just hours earlier, he had been with Malchus in the garden and had seen Peter. “Didn’t I just see you in the garden with Jesus?” the man began. Cursing, Peter spat with fury, “I don’t know Him!!” In the distance, the sound of the early morning-call echoed from the throat of a rooster, and Peter’s guilt came rushing like a tidal wave. Hearing the bird crowing took Peter back to earlier that night and the piercing words of Jesus, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” The words echoed over and over in Peter’s head as tears of shame filled his eyes. Peter hurried out of the courtyard sobbing. On this night, Judas wasn’t the only one to betray Jesus. Jesus was on trial, and Peter had abandoned Him. Faithfulness was too difficult for Peter.
Food For Thought: Peter sinned when he least expected to, but isn’t that how most sin is? List a couple of moments in your life where the stress or frustration of the moment caused you to sinfully surrender to a quick lie or a harsh word. If you have not yet, take some time now to confess and repent of this sin.