Slicing Ears Off?

Peter:  From the Garden to the Courtyard

Part of the Sunday school lesson I taught yesterday was from John 18 where Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and when Peter denied the Lord three times–just as Jesus predicted a couple hours before.

I found it fascinating to think about how Peter must have been feeling. He went through quite a change from the Garden to the Courtyard.

Arrested in the Garden

A contingent of soldiers and men sent from the high priest, a crowd carrying torches and weapons, came to arrest Jesus in an olive grove where Jesus and his disciples had been praying. Jesus was not surprised, but fully expected this to happen. The soldiers were ready to seize Jesus and arrest him when Peter pulled out a sword and cut a servant’s ear off!

All four of the Gospels record this, but only John names Peter as the one wielding the sword. Only Luke tells us that Jesus picked up the man’s ear and healed him (which means, reattached it!) Perhaps because Luke was a doctor, this was important for him to note. I’m so glad he did. I like knowing that Jesus healed that servant, even as He put a stop to the violence with his words.

Rebuked by Jesus

Luke also tells us, “When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?” (Luke 22:49). Since when do all the disciples carry swords?! And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear” (Luke 22:50) Not surprising that Peter was the one to take action. BUT, there’s a problem. “But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this’!” (Luke 22:51)

Jesus said, “No.” Peter was sure he was being brave and loyal, but Jesus said, “No.” Peter was ready for a big, physical fight, but he didn’t understand this battle would be waged in spirit by a different set of rules entirely. Peter still thought Jesus’ kingdom would come through force, by resisting men. Jesus didn’t receive Peter’s act of “bravery” and he rebuked him in front of the disciples and a huge crowd of enemies.

Disillusion Led to Denial

Peter was deflated, defeated and very disillusioned by the time he and John got to the residence of the high priest where Jesus was taken. John went inside. Peter stayed outside in the courtyard. Peter thought he was ready to defend Jesus to the death, but only if he could do it his way, only if he could go down swinging. He was ready to do some damage with a sword, but he wasn’t ready for a servant girl to ask him who he was. He wasn’t ready to identify with Jesus with his words and leave the results up to God. So, Peter denied Jesus three times, calling down curses on himself and declaring in the strongest language that he didn’t even know “the man.”

This is only one step along the way of Peter’s journey and we know that he is later fully restored and becomes a mighty man of God…

God’s Ways, Not Our Ways

But we need to remember that we can’t come to God our own way. He doesn’t need us to defend Him in our flesh. We can’t say we will do what God wants us to do, but we will use our own methods. We must follow the example of Jesus and do the Father’s will the Father’s way, according to His plan and by His strength.

God’s ways and plans are always different (higher!) than ours. We need to learn His ways and then surrender and obey. This is always the way to victory, even if it doesn’t seem so at first.

Is there an area where you are trying to do the right thing for God your own way?

Leave a comment


  1. God’s ways and thoughts are not ours….that is true. But, I’ve been wondering about the reference points. God’s reference is eternity, while ours is on earth. So often we want to be saved and delivered to be comfortable here on earth. If our reference point changes, then can our ways and thoughts become more like God’s for our lives.


  2. Thanks for the comment, Duffy. I think–yes, definitely! The more we draw close to the Lord and learn His ways and become like Him, the more we will want the same things He wants for us. And that’s always good! 🙂



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  • Hi, I'm Erica ~ a wife, a mom, a Christian speaker, singer, author, and worship leader. I love coffee & chocolate, reading & writing, music & more music, Facebook & Twitter, time with family & friends! Thanks for dropping by ~ I hope you are encouraged here.

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