Life Lessons: Peter: The Disciple
As we pick back up this account, we find a large chunk of Peter’s story occurring over just a few hours. We are truly coming to the “end” of Peter’s training and we see a touching moment between the disciples and Jesus during the Last Supper. Christ, ever the servant, takes a moment to wash the feet of His friends and vocal Simon Peter speaks up in concern that the Messiah is going to do this. Let me tell you, I would have done the exact same thing not only because it would make me uncomfortable but I wouldn’t want to see the Messiah doing something so “lowly”. Of course, that is exactly why the Lord came, which is what He tells Peter. Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:6-11) and in true Peter fashion he replies with, “No, you shall never wash my feet”. Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me”. If the Lord had told me this, I think I would have relented to my feet being washed but still would have felt bad about it but good old Peter replies with, “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Can’t you just see this scene? Exuberant, excitable Peter ready to have the bowl of water dumped on his head if necessary to fully join with Christ and yet, just a few hours later he will deny even knowing the Savior. But in all of Peter’s ups and downs, it’s his headstrong, all-in personality that stands out to me and makes him such a memorable and moldable disciple. Peter is a great reminder that the Lord doesn’t require perfection but He does need action.
As the night moves on, we follow Christ and the disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane where they go to pray. It’s obvious from the scriptures that the Lord is overcome with sadness and that this is a tense moment. He takes Peter, James and John further in to the garden to pray which I assume they did…at first. However, several times throughout the night, Christ returns to the three only to find them sleeping. (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-51)
Small sidebar: I hate that the “three” always get a bad rap for falling asleep in the midst of such a crisis but to be fair it was late, they were most likely tired and filled up with delicious foods, plus hindsight is 20/20. They didn’t understand what their friend was facing as He prayed and even though it was obvious that he was struggling that doesn’t mean they knew how best to help or comfort him. How many times have you been at a loss when trying to comfort a friend? I’m the world’s worst comforter because I just don’t handle awkward situations well and yes they were supposed to “watch and pray” but how often do you fall asleep praying? Jesus even says, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) So, please show Peter, James and John a little grace. Now back to Peter’s story.
It is after the third time of waking the three that Judas comes with the guards to arrest Jesus. Can you imagine how Peter felt? Yes, the Lord is betrayed but He knew He would be and He told Judas that just hours beforehand. And while the disciples were there for that conversation I can’t imagine that they truly understood what He meant. It’s something I never really considered until recently. Judas betrayed THEM ALL, not just from a friendship stand point but also in view of their safety. He was literally turning them all over for thirty pieces of silver…the price of a slave. The Bible narrative moves fairly quickly but I have to imagine that the disciples stood their dumbstruck for a few moments trying to understand what the Lord had said and why there were guards and why they wanted to arrest Jesus when all he was doing was praying. Can you imagine the emotions?
We know Peter’s emotions were running high because when they arrested Jesus he took out his sword and cut off a guy’s ear. (John 18:10) Another one of those things we don’t think about too much but I bet he wasn’t aiming for his ear. I bet he wasn’t thinking, “I’m going to scare them off by going all Van Gogh on this dude!” No, I assume he meant business and as the guy was the servant of the high priest I assume he was the one giving orders. Also, take a second the think about what could have been the repercussions of Peter’s actions. All the gospels make it clear that it wasn’t a handful of people showing up to chat with Jesus. It was a large crowd armed with clubs and swords. Even with twelve men, Christ and the eleven were significantly outnumbered but being the brash man he was, Peter didn’t consider that. He only knew that he was angry which makes this passage written by him YEARS later so great. 1 Peter 3:8-9 says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were call so that you may inherit a blessing”. If you had told “garden Peter” this, he would have scoffed but after years of being a disciple he knew a different truth. (In case you are worried, Jesus healed the servant’s ear…the servant that was arresting him. Kind of sounds like 1 Peter…)
As we end here, it seems strange that the next time we see Peter he will have done a complete 180 in his response to the situation but once again, I so see myself in him.
Do you enjoy serving? Do you find it hard to allow others to serve you? Remember, both are a blessing and often our issue with being served stems more from pride than humility regardless of how we present it.
Are you led more by your emotions or the truth of the Lord?
Do you blame the three for falling short on their “responsibilities” in the garden? How would you have held up?
Ask the Lord to help you keep your emotions in line and to offer you wisdom and discernment in challenging situations.