“But even if God does not deliver us from your fiery furnace, we will not serve your gods.”
“If I perish, I perish.”
“Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
And then this one: “I do not know the man.”
Three Hebrew youth pledged their lives and were thrown in a fiery furnace. A young beautiful girl was willing to perish but instead saved a nation.
Peter pledged to go to prison and to death. He even tried to defend Jesus on his own power, as if he was going to take down an entire army of soldiers, one ear at a time.
I really feel badly for Peter. He pledged. He struck with a sword, only to be told to put it back in its sheath by the Man he was trying to defend. Sometimes a total surrender means not trying to handle it yourself and instead let God handle you.
Have you ever tried to do the right thing, only to feel the stinging rebuke from the very one you want to please? It feels a little bit like the ALS challenge from a couple of years ago…
…except water bucket dumped on you is ice cold...
...and it’s not in the heat of summer, but on a chilly winter’s day…
…And it’s ice cold because there are still ice cubes in the water! Big ones.
Total surrender is like that. We are to risk all and we have to be willing to accept the consequences. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t know how things were going to turn out. Neither did Esther. And neither did Peter.
But here’s the secret towards total surrender. Sometimes the cavalry doesn’t come over the hill just in the nick of time. Sometimes we take a risk and it doesn’t work out. Miracles are miracles because they don’t just happen every day. And sometimes you cry out “shall we strike with a sword?” while we are taking our swords out of their sheaths before we even hear God’s answer.
So what did Peter do? He was so confused that he gave up. He wanted to stay close to Jesus, but when confronted, he denied Christ, not once, not twice but three times. It’s as though he was saying, “Yeah I tried that ‘total surrender thing,’ and it didn’t turn out so good.”
So what is the secret? Don’t give up on giving up. Keep on surrendering but not to the enemy; surrender to God. Peter’s failure was not in his cutting off Malchus’ ear while trying to chop off his head. And Peter’s failure was not that he denied Christ. Not really.
The only way Peter would have failed would have been if he didn’t keep on trying to surrender to God. Peter preached 50 days later on Pentecost and I just believe that there was some guy in the crowd listening name Stephen. And he and 3,000 other people listened to a fisherman who surrendered to a man who told him to cast his net on the other side after a night of fishless fishing.
And from then on, it was the Lord who had Peter’s ear. And the rest of him as well.