John 18:1-12, 15-18, 25-27
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus[ said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants[e] and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
For Simon Peter, the night of Jesus’ arrest highlighted his best and his worst - Moments of triumph followed by moments of complete failure. Just hours before this scene in John 18, Peter sat at the table with Jesus and confidently pledged his unyielding support; his eternal loyalty. He would never let Jesus down. He would never leave Him or deny Him. And he meant those words. Of course, that was when the world made sense.
But then everything spiraled out of control. Nothing happened the way it was supposed to happen. The praise he should have received from Jesus turned to rebukes. The right he had meant to do had turned out to be wrong. Even when he attempted to prove his love and loyalty for Jesus and fight to the death, Jesus rebuked him.
Imagine his confusion. Imagine the disillusionment of watching Jesus arrested, and He didn’t even fight back! The fierce, courageous loyalty in Peter’s heart turned into cowardice and deceit ... and the Master who he loved ... the man who had inspired him to drop his fishing nets and leave everything he knew ... tomorrow, that man would die. Nothing made sense anymore at all.
Years later, as an old man, Peter, (who was called an “Elder”) would write about the lessons that he learned on this night. As he wrote about suffering, he stated that he had learned that we are not called to evade suffering or to destroy the source of suffering, but that we are called to face it with courage, though faith.
He also told us that we are to be controlled and alert; that we are to prepare our minds for action; and that we are supposed to be on our guard. You know why? Because you just never know when things are going to turn – you never know when Satan is going to attack.
When he does, Lord, I pray that I will stand firm and stay close to You. But I pray, too that you’ll help me to avoid despair. After all, Jesus died for Simon Peter, and for me.