Because Peter ran away from Jesus when Roman guards came to arrest him, some think of Peter as weak. But the problem wasn’t that Peter wasn’t willing to die for Jesus—the problem was that Peter wasn’t willing to die for Jesus the right way. Before Jesus could even stop him, Peter had already gone for the kill on one of the guards and missed (or so I suspect since I don’t think Peter was a ninja, capable of expertly and intentionally taking off someone’s ear).
Peter had courage, but applied it to the wrong efforts. And once Jesus commanded him to lay down his guns, he ran away and hid and denied Jesus three times. He was willing to go to war for Jesus, but the Jesus-way of winning wars via suffering was not something he could handle. He bombed his test, hit his lowest point, and returned to being a fisherman (but now he couldn’t even catch fish anymore).
But then the resurrected Jesus showed up and made Peter put away his shame by calling him to confirm Jesus three times. Now restored to ministry, Peter was sent out a different person, able to fight with suffering as his weapon. Through the cross, his ideology had been turned on its head. And so he encouraged the church in his letters:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
*This devotional was created out of the themes of 1 Peter 4:7-19 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net.