Without a doubt, Peter was the spokesman and leader of the disciples. As they sat around the Passover table, Peter refused to let Jesus serve him by washing his feet. Once Jesus explained His purpose, Peter quickly agreed asking Him to wash all of him. Later when Jesus said Satan would sift them like wheat, He promised that He prayed for Peter to stay strong so he could help the others. Peter proclaimed he was ready to be arrested and die with Jesus. Jesus contradicted him saying before the rooster crowed Peter would deny Him three times.
As they ate, much of what Jesus said seemed like riddles. Peter strained to grasp the full picture. Then Jesus warned them, “Whoever has no sword should sell his coat and buy one.” After they produced two swords, Jesus said, “It’s enough.”
As they stood to depart for the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter and the disciples didn’t know they had just celebrated the first communion at the Last Supper.
In the garden as they knelt to pray, Jesus asked them to stay awake with Him. But they all had a tough time keeping their eyes open. Jesus woke them in time to see the mob following Judas.
Pushing the sleepy fog out of his mind, Peter thought this was the moment to use his sword. The fact that he, a fisherman, was stepping up against a thousand trained Roman soldiers didn’t stop him. He fearlessly pulled his sword, swinging it at the nearest person, slicing off his ear.
Jesus quickly intervened and healed the man’s ear. He told Peter to put his sword away. Peter must have responded in stunned silence. As he followed the guards taking Jesus to trial, he must have tried to make sense of it all. Why did Jesus tell them to get swords if He didn’t want them to defend Jesus? Peter wanted to help Jesus but he didn’t know how.
When they arrived at the home of Caiaphas, gratefully John let him in the gate. Since the night was cold, he sat at a fire in the courtyard. Even though temple guards and servants of Caiaphas were sitting around the fire, Peter tried to blend in. When a servant girl said she had seen him with Jesus, Peter quickly denied it. He continued to try to blend in while he listened to the trial, and figured out what he could do for Jesus. Two more times he was asked, and two more times he denied that he knew Jesus.
As Peter denied Him the third time, Jesus looked across from the trial to the courtyard and into Peter’s eyes. A rooster crowed as Peter realized what he had done. He rushed out and wept bitterly.
Poor Peter, he was like a bull in a china shop. There was no way he could blend in or rescue Jesus. It’s sad he forgot Jesus’ warning. Twice Jesus said, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Was Peter’s mind too full of his own agenda that he forgot Jesus’ instructions?
As I combed through all four Gospel accounts, I found no mention of Peter after this until Easter morning when the women tell of the resurrection. Did Peter watch the crucifixion from a distance, or was he so consumed in personal failure and grief that he stayed away?
I like bold Peter and his total devotion, risking his life to defend Jesus. His weakness was writing the next part of the script when Jesus told him to pray for strength to withstand temptation. How many times am I so focused on my plans to do something good, that I neglect to pray for strength to withstand temptation? Times of stress can catch us off guard, leaving us vulnerable to sin. Our first priority in times of stress or crisis is to pray. God wants to guide us and give us victory over temptation.