Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Was Peter a Chicken?

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?” – John 18:11

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter tried to be a hero by cutting off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. But in John 18:11, Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?”

Jesus was doing exactly what God the Father wanted Him to do—beginning the work of redemption that you and I desperately needed Him to do. In John 18, Jesus was ready to drink the cup of God’s wrath on human sin so that you and I wouldn’t have to. He was ready to go through hell on earth, so that you and I wouldn’t have to go through hell in eternity.

God the Father's plan was for both Jesus and Peter to drink from their designated cups of suffering. Sadly, while Jesus began gulping His cup down, Peter put his cup back on the shelf. Should we give Peter a hard time for denying Jesus three times while Jesus was on trial for His life? Perhaps. But there's more to Peter than meets the eye.

When Jesus was arrested, all 11 of the remaining apostles were scattered. But Peter followed Jesus at a distance. He and another disciple entered the high priest’s courtyard and warmed themselves by the fire. And there in the high priest’s courtyard – while Jesus was interrogated by His accusers – Peter lived out what Jesus had predicted at the Last Supper. Three times, people asked Peter if he’d been with Jesus. Three times, Peter denied even knowing Him.

The third time Peter denied Jesus, according to Luke 22:60, the cock crow began even before Peter had finished his sentence. “Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown Me three times.’ And [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). While Jesus was drinking His super-sized cup of suffering, Peter refused to drink his little Dixie cup of suffering.

Did Peter screw up in the high priest’s courtyard? Yes, he did! However, it could be helpful to look at Peter’s screw-ups from a different angle. At least he loved Jesus enough to stick close to Him when Jesus didn’t have a friend in the world. Many of us don’t fail Jesus as much as Peter failed Jesus … because we don’t take any risks for Jesus. Which begs the question: Is it better to attempt something great for Jesus and fail, OR attempt nothing for Jesus and succeed? 

It’s been said: “Aim for nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.” At least Peter aimed for something. He aimed to stand up for Jesus. He aimed to stick close to Jesus. His intentions were good. It’s just that his execution was lousy. But in the weeks to come, Peter repented and never made the same mistakes again. He went on to become one of the boldest followers of Jesus in Christian history.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter chickened out. Which makes me wonder, in similar circumstances … would you and I do the same? As followers of Christ, we have our own cups of suffering to drink. But regardless of whether your cup is small or large, you should willingly drink your designated cup of suffering for Jesus. As the great missionary William Carey said so well, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

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