“What do you think happened to Peter?” I asked my pastor/husband.
I’d been reading the account of the Passover week, and Peter’s loyalty to Christ stood in sharp contrast to his subsequent betrayal.
At the Last Supper, Peter declared he was willing to die with Christ. When the mob came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he bravely defended Jesus. He swung a sword and chopped off a guy’s ear.
Yet a little servant girl scared him so much that he swore and said he never knew Jesus.
“Peter was willing to fight,” my husband said, “but he wasn’t willing to surrender his life.”
Some days, I am Peter.
I share the Gospel bravely. Defend Jesus with passion. Pledge my allegiance to the cause of Christ, and declare, “As for me and MY house, we will serve the Lord.” I want the guts and the glory.
But I’m unwilling to lay down my life.
I want revenge when someone wrongs me.
I expect praise when I serve unselfishly.
I think others should set aside their preferences in favor of mine.
I’m surprised when people mock my faith.
I feel like God has betrayed my trust when pain and trials enter my life.
I, like Peter, am willing to fight for Christ, but I’m not always willing to surrender to him—especially when life doesn’t turn out like I expected.
Trials and hardships? I didn't sign up for this.
Sickness and death? Can’t I just pray and God will spare us?
Animosity against me because I’m a Christian? I don’t deserve this.
Disappointments, hurts, and betrayals? This happens to the unsaved, but Christians should be exempt.
Yet what does Scripture say?
About trials: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
About sickness and death: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psa. 73:26).
About persecution for our faith: “Remember the word that I said unto you, ‘The servant is not greater than his lord.’ If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
About disappointments, hurts, and betrayals: “I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting” (Isa. 50:6).
Surrendering to God’s will, as Peter discovered, is much more difficult than fighting for God’s cause. Cowards can fight, but only the bravest surrender.
And only when we surrender our will to God will we discover what it really means to live.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mat. 10:39).
Peter discovered that people experience the greatest joy imaginable when they surrender their lives to Christ. Listen to his words in 1 Peter 5:6-7:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Peter learned that to truly fight for Christ, we must surrender to him. No holding back. No hedging our bets. No escape clause. No emergency chute.
Three times the gospels describe Peter’s actions: “He followed at a distance.”*
Following at a distance caused Peter to deny Christ.
“Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ . . . And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62).
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day the church commemorates the Last Supper. Will you join me not only in defending Christ, but also in surrendering our lives to him?
*Mat. 26:58, Mark 14:54, Luke 22:54