Click here to read John 18:1-27
When the officers confronted Jesus in the garden, Peter was full of courage. He saw the men fall backward when Jesus spoke, and he was not afraid. The Master he served was obviously more powerful than these interlopers. He drew his sword and took a swipe at one of the men. Perhaps he assumed that at last they were entering the battle that he had been waiting for. Surely Jesus would finally show them who was boss and enter into his rightful place as ruler of the kingdom.
Imagine Peter’s confusion at the events of the next few hours. Instead of engaging in battle and rallying His supporters, Jesus meekly submitted to arrest. Peter followed at a distance, anxious and probably in shock. This was not at all what he had expected. He was watching his leader be humiliated, and suddenly his plans were crumbling around him. The cause to which he had devoted his life for the past few years seemed lost. He had been ready and willing to fight, but the dream had unraveled.
In the courtyard a bit later, when Peter was questioned about his relationship with the accused man, imagine his panic. Here he was in the midst of the enemy, and he certainly didn’t want to be arrested himself. He reacted by denying that he knew Jesus. He was afraid, and tried not to draw attention to himself.
What changed here? Peter the lion, charging to the forefront and standing to fight for his King, is suddenly changed to a fearful mouse, scuttling around in the shadows and not daring to admit who he really is. He is reduced from fearless to fearful. Why?
In the garden, his peers surrounded him.
In the courtyard, he felt alone among his foes.
In the garden, he stood ready to fight in the way he understood.
In the courtyard, there was no chance of winning a battle.
In the garden, he trusted the power of his Leader.
In the courtyard, that power seemed to be gone.
It’s easy to be brave when we are part of a strong group, when we have people around us to support and encourage. It’s not so easy when the people around us look skeptical or sneer at our efforts.
It’s easy to be brave when we are facing the challenges that we anticipate and have trained for. It’s tougher when events take a completely unexpected turn and we are suddenly in a situation we simply don’t know how to handle.
But most of all, it’s much harder to be brave if you don’t completely trust in the one who created and sustains you. If you know perfectly well that He is with you, there is nothing that can harm you. But when you are unsure, there is nothing to anchor your courage. We need to understand that even when things seem desperate, as they did to Peter, our Lord has not left us alone and unprotected. Even when we can’t see Him, He is here.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9
Wherever you go
in the garden, or in the courtyard,
be a Lion!
He has your back.