Peter - the sword, the denial and the restoration
Much can and has been said on Peter when he was in the garden the night Jesus was betrayed and latter his rejection. If we can piece together the sequence of events that led up to this and what took place we get a understanding.
Jesus and the disciples go out to the garden after enjoying the Passover together.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over” (Matt 26:36). Of course we all know that his 3 closest disciples fell asleep as they were to watch.
Back to the arrest, Mark 14:42: "Rise up, let us go. See, My betrayer is at hand." Judas is leading them to arrest the one he had followed for several years. But now Peter is wide awake and his adrenaline is flowing. They all know who the betrayer is.
After the Roman guards fall back from Jesus identifying himself to them as the one they were looking for, Matthew records “And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (26:51-52; Mark 14:47).
It was earlier that evening Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'(Matthew 26:31) V.33-35 Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And so said all the disciples.”
Notice that all the disciples agreed with Peter, he was not alone on this declaration.
But Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, "Permit even this." And He touched his ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:48-51)
Even after they saw the Roman guards fall back by the power of Jesus identifying himself they were all willing to pick up a sword to protect the Lord, but it was impetuous Peter that stepped forward and actually used the sword.
John 18:8-11 Jesus answered, "I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way," that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none." 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. Then Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?" (Malchus’ name means king or kingdom)
Matt 26:54 "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that
it must happen thus?"
Peter previously promised he would die with him if necessary, but he will be challenged on this more than once.
Peter goes after the servant, not any of the leaders; the very role that Jesus is trying to work in him. So many have made Peter into a coward or bumbler. Saying the man was running away, that’s the only way he could cut his right ear off. Why is that? Peter could have faced him and been to his right, and being right handed cut off his right ear. Or he could have been left handed facing him, either way this is a flawed argument. Jesus did take care of Peters blunder immediately.
After all the disciples fled (as prophesied), Peter and another (John) follow Jesus at a distance as he is taken to be tried. The other disciple is able to go into the courtyard.
John 18:16-17 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, "You are not also one of this Man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not."(his first denial) V.25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, "You are not also one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not!"
Peter is later identified (John 18:26-27) by a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.”
Interesting how God is pinpointing his weaknesses, by one of the men who was there at the arrest when Peter thought he was brave and willing to fight for the Lord.
Mark ties it all together 14:66-72 “Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth." But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are saying." And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, "This is one of them." But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, "Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it." Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this Man of whom you speak!" And a second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And when he thought about it, he wept.
Peter is fighting for his life, certainly what Jesus said in Matt. 16:24-25 would have crossed his mind. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Luke 22:60-62 But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!" Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”
He was that close to the Lord physically but far away in his heart.
The third appearance after the resurrection is to the two disciples travelling on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-32) The sixth appearance is to the eleven (John 20:26-31). This is possibly the seventh appearance to the seven disciples gathered together. So a decent amount of time has transpired,
John 21:2 - 17: “Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.”
Here they are just as they were once before, unsuccessful at fishing. They forsook all, they had already left fishing but following Peter, who is in a backslidden state, went back to all he knows (something we all do at times).
4: But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”
5: Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No."
6: And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”
7: Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"
John was first to recognize the Lord because of his words, it was a repeat. As Jesus previously asked do you have any food (Mt.15:34; Mk.6:38). John immediately recognized what happened to them once before, Luke 5:4-9 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking “So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken.”
v.7 “Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.”
Peter was unclothed for fishing, taking off his outer garment. Putting on his outer garment was like putting on the robes of salvation, forsaking what he went back to, he dressed properly to meet the Lord (Isa.61:10; Mt.22:11). Peter jumps into the water, he had to be thinking of what Jesus said before and the situation he is in now. Simon once again finds himself as a sinful man (Lk.5).
v. 8 “But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught."
We see Jesus is still serving them after the resurrection. It was at the fire that Peter heard the rooster crow, and it will be at a fire the Lord will restore him.
11: Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
12: Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?"-- knowing that it was the Lord”
13: Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.”
14: This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.” (Jesus had appeared a few times to the woman before he appeared to the disciples)
Jesus has appeared twice to all the disciples without restoring Peter, now in front of everyone he commences a process by asking questions. Jesus is addressing him publicly for a number of reasons. He and all of them promised they would die for him.
15: So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
When Jesus calls him the son of Jonah he is referring to his old nature, not his new (as he changed his name to a stone – Peter Jn:1:42) until he is restored. He begins by asking him if he loves Him more than these men, his friendship with them as phileo, asking if he agapao’s him. After Peter says he phileo’s Jesus, he tells him to go back to his calling by feeding the lambs; looking out for the spiritual welfare of the new young believers
16: He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
Jesus turns his attention directly to his relationship with him, he again asks him if he agapao’s him. Peter then responds with he phileo’s him. He then tells him to be as a shepherd and govern the flock.
17: He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.
Each time Jesus is asking him if he agapao him, Peter cannot bring himself to say yes. Peter could only respond as a brother
The third time he instead asks if you phileo me? Peter was grieved from the third time he asked because he already said he phileo’s him. Surely he understood this to be relative to when he denied Jesus the third time as he responds that He knows all things (Jesus told him ahead of time how he would deny him). Peter’s heart was wounded, knowing he disappointed the Lord. Yet the Lord was using these questions and commissioning him for his restoration. Jesus then again encourages him to take care for the welfare of the sheep; the mature believers and the young believers.
The Lord uses both words agapao and phileo in other places.
Agapao– an unconditional love
Jn 3:16 God so loved the world
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you,
John 3:35"The Father loves the Son”
Phileo –a brotherly kindness
John 5:20 "For the Father loves the Son”
John 16:27 "for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me (phileo), and have believed that I came forth from God.
John 15:19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own.
V.18-19: "Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."
And Peter stopped doing what he wanted and did what the Lord called him to do. Acts 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples” Peter had begun the position he was called even before the Holy Spirit was sent. But this was among those he knew and trusted, the next time it is toward his brethren, those who opposed Jesus.
Acts 2:14 “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.”
The Holy Spirit is now in control of him, he instead used the word, the spiritual sword not by fighting in the flesh. V.37 “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart.”Peter learned that our battle is not against people physically, but what they believe.
Here we see Peter as a fisher of men casting out the net over the sea of people reaping an unexpected harvest, larger than any catch of fish he caught. He went from water to land, as he was brought back to what Jesus said in the beginning of his calling, Matt. 4:19-20: Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
Peter was finally made into an obedient servant, who would choose the Spirit before the sword. The lesson is that anyone can become a servant of the Lord, even if they have strayed. Anyone can begin again. 2 Tim 2:21 “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
But to reach those who know the truth and strayed can only be by the Spirit’s work, we cannot trust in the arm of the flesh, they cannot be forced or made obedient by a law.
Peter likewise repeats to others what the Lord said to him along with some gained wisdom. 1 Peter 5:2: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.”