“Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?'” (John 18.10 NLT).
Peter is notorious for rejecting Jesus three times. The religious leaders and many Roman soldiers took Jesus late at night into to custody in order to condemn Him. John and Peter both followed Jesus to the High Priest’s house and waited in the courtyard while the High Priests questioned Him.
“Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus” (John 18. 15 NLT).
John went into the courtyard of the High Priest’s house and was able to get Peter in. The only problem is that Peter had only moments ago chopped off Malchus’s ear. This man was the High Priest’s assistant. Peter had broken the law and hurt a fellow Jew, and now he found himself in the home of where this man worked, where he may have lived and where a lot of people knew him. Peter tried to take control of what was happening to Jesus with his limited point-of-view, and he now faced dire consequences.
“But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?’ Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed” (John 18.26 NLT).
I wonder if Peter’s motivation to lie about not being a disciple of Jesus was based on the fact that he had sinned, trying to usurp God’s plan of redemption for the world? If Peter hadn’t done something illegal (chopping off a religious leader’s ear), he may have been stronger in his faith for Christ at this time, like John was.
Peter broke the law, and because of that, he was intimidated and guilty, trying to avoid punishment caused by his disobedience. His guilt conscience, though Jesus healed the man, caused him to lose the confidence of his Christian witness to others.
This is a reminder to us when doing ministry that we should obey the fullness of God’s plans in our lives and not try to take matters into our own hands, especially when they are illegal. God can give us a passion to do something, but that doesn’t give us the right to not obey the law of the land (unless, of course, those laws have completely contradicted God’s laws).
For example, God can give us a desire to start a business, but that does not give us license to steal money in order to accomplish His will. Or God can give us a desire to adopt a hurting child, but that does not give us right to bypass all the requirements of legal adoption. If God has given us the desire to do something, He will ensure that we can accomplish His will without breaking the law. We just have to believe that His promises are true, and He is faithful to accomplish what He has started.
With that being said, God at anytime can break laws of man, supernaturally providing for us in ways that go beyond what anyone could think or image, but we need to rest in His movements, resisting the urge to step outside of His timing and plan (Acts 5.29). We don’t want the fulfillment of our promises to be rooted in a personal act of disobedience because eventually, we will get found out.
Peter learned from his mistake. He was the first disciple to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Jewish people after Jesus’ ascension back to the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Peter lead thousands of people into salvation, birthing The Church. He finally saw the bigger picture of what Jesus was accomplishing with His death and resurrection, and his confidence in his Christian witness to others rocked the world.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16.18 NIV).