Continuing the episode in the garden, when Jesus was arrested.
When confronted, Peter pulled out a sword. And then he lunged.
Given what we know, it was probably a short sword designed for stabbing, not slicing. And so either Peter had bad aim, or his recipient was just quicker. Regardless, it appears Peter’s intention was to kill.
Peter stood there, assessing the situation, and decided he was ready to defend to the death, or go down fighting for his Lord.
But then, something curious happens. Verse 56 tells us: “then all the disciples left him and fled” (Matthew 26). That included Peter.
How does Peter go from ready-to-die to let’s-get-out-of-here?
It came because of what Jesus said in between the two events. In short: Put away your swords. I’m in charge here.
This, on the surface, seems like it would be a comforting message.
But it’s not that simple. As people, there’s a transformation that it takes for us to ‘get’ there.
What Jesus was really telling Peter and the others was: it’s time for you to give up control.
As the story plays out, we see that Peter’s not there yet. (Still to come are his three denials.)
For us, when we want to follow God, it’s tempting to believe it’ll be a lightning bolt situation. And, on the part of God, it is that.
But for our part, that’s far from the case. Theologians call this sanctification. It’s the process of growing into the role God’s carved out for us.
Of course, what that includes, by implication, is all the failing along the way.