Peter is my favorite disciple, because I relate so much to him. He is impulsive and impatient and often doesn't understand what the Lord is doing (to give him credit, though, he is the only person besides Jesus who ever walked on water). What was Peter thinking here? There were probably over 200 men present, the majority of them highly trained Roman soldiers. Injuring one man, or even (had his aim been better) killing one would not have changed the situation. In fact, Jesus had already strongly rebuked Peter for not understanding (or agreeing with) God's plan of redemption:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Matthew 16:21-23)Peter was, to use words from Sunday's message, trying to "save Jesus." Maybe Peter thought he could fix the situation. Maybe he was just afraid. The sermon point I have been thinking about since last Sunday is that we all have the tendency to use metaphorical swords to fix the things in our life that we don't like. When we are unhappy or hurting or uncomfortable or scared, we use our swords of control or gratification or manipulation to try to remedy the problem.
Sometimes we do this when we don't feel that God is giving us clear directions. However, Peter was standing right next to Jesus. Why didn't he ask Jesus what to do? "Hey, Lord, should I just use this sword and fight for you?" Peter decided he knew what to do and just did it.
As a believer, Jesus is always right next to me. I have the Bible for clear direction. I can pray any time. Yet I also often don't go to God first and ask what to do. Instead, I let my emotions and impatience control my actions and start waving my swords around trying to change the circumstances. Which leads, as with Peter, to people getting hurt and me receiving conviction: "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?" (John 18:11)
This week I have been challenged to put my sword away and seek the Lord's wisdom rather than start hacking away at what (or whom) ever is in front of me.
If you would like to listen to this message, you can hear it here:
God Who Reconciles, Part 13