Peter brandished his sword, swinging defiantly at the attackers. An ear flopped to the ground and blood poured out.
Not today, Peter must have thought. He had just been warned about his own weakness, his inevitable failure to stick with Jesus no matter what. Mustering courage, Peter was determined to stay focused.
Until Jesus rebuked him, reattached the ear to the enemy’s head, and allowed the crowd to take him without resistance (See Matthew 26).
Well, that was unexpected.
Moments later, that unexpected change of plans changed Peter’s deliberate confidence into debilitating insecurity.
You know the Easter story. One hour Peter stands his ground against an intimidating foe, the next he compromises to the petty pressures from a group nobodies.
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
How can such loyalty be so fleeting?
Yet my life is no different. Most of us know the surging rush of pride when we make a stand for our faith boldly and unashamedly, be it on Facebook, in the political realm, at school or our jobs.
But then the small challenges surprise us. We have a bad day and find ourselves talking less about the power of God’s grace and more about the power of negative circumstances. We confidently post Bible verses on social media, but quietly compromise when it comes to lunch-hour conversations. Wednesday we speak up during Bible study; Friday we shut that part of us down at the party.
I’ve been Peter a hundred times over. Perhaps you have too. Thankfully, Peter himself speaks encouragement for the rest of us:
I have written you this brief letter… to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it!
1 Peter 5:12
Even when God moves in ways we weren’t expecting (or praying for), our confidence can be guarded from compromise. The same grace which completely restored Peter (see John 21) is offered to us. Instead of worrying about future pressures, or lamenting our current crowing roosters, let us…
…prepare [our] minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all [our] hope in the gracious salvation that will come to [us] when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.
1 Peter 1:13