The contrast between Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter in the courtyard of the high priest is a stark one.
At Jesus’ arrest Peter is full of bravado. He has already pledged that he will never abandon Jesus, even if it costs him his life, and he’s made that promise in public. When the arrest party comes, Peter is quick to take up arms and use them. But then, it’s easy to play the alpha male when you’ve got a sword in your hand, mates at your back, and are convinced you’re on the winning side.
Things are a little different in the courtyard of the high priest. There, Peter faces not a crowd with clubs, but a young servant girl. And this time, there are no public professions of loyalty and no bravado. Though there is, at least at the end, coarse language. But, of course, here, in the courtyard, he has no mates watching him, no sword to reach for, and (it seems) his side is far from winning.
Peter is a reminder that it’s easy to be bold and loud in what seems like the big moments and fail in the small ones. But it’s the small ones that define and shape our character. It’s those moments when no-one else is watching, when ‘it doesn’t really matter’, that test our true loyalty to Christ.
But Peter is also a reminder that we don’t fight Christ’s battles like the world fights, or with the world’s weapons - whether in person or on-line. In fact, the real warrior is not Peter wielding a sword in the garden, or Peter failing before a servant girl in the courtyard. It's Christ, in the room above the courtyard, making the good confession. It’s Christ humbling himself at the cross. It’s Christ forgiving his enemies, loving his mother, offering hope to a sinful man beside him, and in the darkness and horror of the cross confessing, ‘My God, My God’.
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