Peter was willing to die for Jesus, but in the wrong way. Before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples that they would all leave Him. However, Peter insisted that He would die for Jesus; which, in fact, was true. But this sacrifice would have been for self-glory, not God’s glory.
JESUS: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Tonight all of you will run away because of Me…” (Matthew 26.31 HCSB).
PETER: “‘Even if I have to die with You,’ Peter told Him, ‘I will never deny You!’ And all the disciples said the same thing” (Matthew 26.35 HCSB).
JESUS: “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me’” (Mark 14.30).
After Jesus finished praying with His disciples at the Garden of Gethsemane, a huge mob entered the scene late at night. These men had swords and clubs, and were ready for a fight. The thick tension between Jesus and the army mounted when Peter took out his sword and sliced a man’s ear right off. There was no way that Jesus and His 12 disciples would have conquered this massive armed mob. Obviously, Peter was ready for battle and willing to die for Jesus, but Jesus reprimanded him.
Jesus healed that man’s ear and told Peter: “Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has give Me?” (John 18.11 HCSB).
Peter willing sacrificed, worked and took risks for Jesus according to his own terms, but when he was asked to submit to the Father’s terms, he ran away and denied Jesus three times.
When we look at this story, we have to ask ourselves, Am I sacrificing in the name of Jesus for my own epic glory or am I submitted to the Father’s will, humbling myself to a path that makes no sense right now? The process of God’s glory being established in our lives takes time and takes us out of center stage. His glory is about Jesus saving the world, not our ability to fight.
Jesus Christ was about to spill His atoning Blood over all the earth. But this glory only happened after great humility. Many times we think we are fighting God’s battles, but really we are delaying a mass outpouring of His glory in our lives. We are so busy fighting for Him that we are not truly submitted to Him.
We unsheathe our swords in front of the multitude and yell out a victory cry, but when God asks us to take up our cross and truly trust His will and way, we run away denying that He ever spoke to us. Other times we stay so busy fighting battles in the name of God, that we have no time to really listen to God and hear what He has to say. We would rather the glory of the fight than the humility of the wait.
Jesus reprimanded Peter for fighting because Peter’s mindset was not eternal. This small war that Peter was waging in the name of Jesus would have usurped Jesus’ death on the Cross, bypassing the redemption of the world. He thought he was fighting for Jesus, but he was actually fighting against Jesus!
Let us each look at our battles that we are fighting in the name of Jesus and ask ourselves, “Is this truly what God wants or what I want? Am I submitted to God’s will or my own will? Am I so busy fighting that I don’t have time to listen to God?”
If we look within ourselves and analyze our motives, we may realize that all along we’ve been fighting against God’s hand and Jesus is no longer by our side in the fight. He’s waiting for us to get so worn out fighting that we finally turn our attention back to Him and obey His will.
“But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams'” (1 Samuel 15.22 NLT).