The way of the cross is not the easy way or the natural way. But it’s the Jesus way. So put your sword back in its place and pick up your cross. Either way we perish, but one leads to true victory.
I can’t say I blame Peter. His Master was under attack, the one he left everything to follow. His best friend was being betrayed and falsely accused right before him. If you’re going to carry a sword, you must be prepared to use it. And what better time than then? It was his duty to protect Jesus, an honor even.
So Peter decided to fight. And it was over as quickly as it started.
The sword unsheathed. The flash of metal in the torchlight. The servant clutching his ear, or what was left of it, in pain. Then the stern rebuke.
“Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:52-54).
As Peter chose the sword, Jesus chose the cross.
That night in the garden and the days that followed were a rollercoaster ride of failure and redemption for Peter. His transformation became evident in the stories that followed in the Acts of the Apostles.
But with the completed scriptures today, we can see the radical difference in post-Pentecost Peter in his New Testament letters. Rather than spilling ink on all the incredible events he witnessed like walking on water, the Transfiguration, the empty tomb, he chose to write as a humble leader to humble exiles.
He clearly grew a lot. The lessons he learned fill the space between his words. And this is especially evident when he instructs the early believers on how to deal with hostile authorities. Like that night in the garden, powerful people in the first century sought to destroy Christ and his disciples. The Roman Empire led by Nero was beginning to grow tired of these Christians. The antagonism from the culture around them was pressing in.
No doubt, some of these early Christians were ready to reach for their swords.