Summary: How do you remain loyal to the Lord when you are in the camp of the enemy? What causes loyalty failure and what can prevent it? We discover much about this in a closer look at Peter’s denial of Jesus.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto were being chased and had ridden their horses into a canyon with no way out when the Lone Ranger noticed that there were Indians all around them. Startled and out of options he said, “Tonto! Tonto! The Indians have surrounded us; we are in terrible trouble! What are we going to do?” Tonto replied, “What you mean, “we” white man?”
How do you handle pressures that test your loyalty and trustworthiness to the Lord?
Today’s text in Luke 22:54-71 begins with what happened to Peter when he faced the loyalty test after Jesus was arrested. Jesus had already prophesied what would happen. Peter had declared his loyalty to Jesus to the death. Peter had a great opportunity to prove himself… But Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. Let’s look at this passage together and see what we can learn about handling pressures that test our loyalty to the Lord.
The very first verse gives us a hint that Peter is having a problem. Look with me at verse 54 And having arrested Him, they led Him away, and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.
Look at those last three words. Where is Peter in this verse? What is his proximity to Jesus? He is close enough to see what is going on, but far enough away to feel safe. He was following… but, at a distance. Now think about Peter’s conversation with Jesus just a little while earlier this same day. Jesus had said: 31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;
32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
33 And he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go both to prison and to death with You!"
These are bold words. There is no reason to believe that Peter doubted that he meant every one of them. But this was at a different moment and in a different place. Where was Peter when he said this? Peter is in the company of Jesus and the disciples at the Passover. Jesus has just said some troubling things about the disciples being scattered, and all the disciples are making statements about their loyalty to Jesus, with Peter leading the pack.
You know, it is one thing to declare that we will be faithful when we are in the company of believers who agree with us in faith, like here at church. It is quite another thing to be among the enemies of Jesus and make such statements. And we need to give Peter credit! When Judas came up and kissed Jesus, Peter was there, ready to fight to the death for Jesus! He grabs his knife and swings at the first person he can reach that looks like a threat to Jesus.
Can’t you just see him? Peter to the rescue! I’m not sure what things were on his mind at the moment, but retreat wasn’t one of them. If Jesus hadn’t stepped in, you can be sure Peter would have gone down fighting. But then everything took an unexpected turn! Jesus has a way of doing that, doesn’t he. But if Peter could have only given it some thought, he would remember that Jesus is acting in perfect harmony with all he has taught!
If only Jesus had more time he could have explained it all again. Peter, that “turn the other cheek” thing I told you about? Well, I meant it!!! That “love you enemies” message back on the mountain side that I taught all of you? I meant that too!
All Jesus says in Luke is a small sentence. In Greek, it makes up only three words:
The KJV says it literally. “Suffer ye thus far.” Many modern translations say something like, “No more of this!” or “Enough of this!” It’s hard to see if Jesus is talking to the crowd that has come to arrest him, or his disciples, or maybe both. But one thing is clear, Jesus wants Peter to put up his sword and he is willing to be turned over to those who have come out to get him.
Matthew gives a fuller account: Mat 26:52 Then Jesus said^ to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.
53 "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
54 "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?"
55 At that time Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me.