Matthew 26: 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
I’ve been looking at stories of Simon Peter with great interest. While some may see the story of Peter attempting to walk on water (Matthew 14) as a demonstration of little faith, I see him as the only guy willing to try. But Jesus says to Peter: “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt”. In Matthew 16:22 Peter rebukes Jesus for saying that he will suffer persecution and die: “Never, Lord. This shall never happen to you”. Poor Peter gets put back in his place by Jesus: “get behind me Satan”; none too subtle. I’m sure some of the other disciples were thinking the same thing, but once again it was Peter acting on it.
The scripture above comes not long after the last supper where Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times. Peter was hurt and says “even if all fall away, I will remain” (v33). And Peter had his chance to prove it the Garden of Gethsemane. The betrayer, Judas Iscariot, comes with his entourage, a mob with swords and clubs and what does Peter do, he draws his sword and lops off the ear of the servant of the high priest. I have no doubt that he would have fought to the death to protect Jesus, had the Lord not stopped it. And Peter’s reward for bravery, his reward for putting his life on the line for a friend: “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Reprimanded again.
Peter has the stuff that most Hollywood heroes are made of. He has righteous indignation, he has courage. Peter rights wrongs. He fights the battles that no one else is willing to fight. So what is the problem? Why does he consistently get rebuked by Jesus?
Peter was fighting battles that Jesus did not ask him to fight. He was battling on the basis of his own human understanding and his own human abilities. And Peter learned his error in the most powerful way later in Matthew 26. Finally there was a battle that Jesus wanted him to fight, one which only required him to identify himself with Jesus. The great irony is that the powerful warrior, willing to stand up to a mob carrying clubs and swords, was unable to stand up to two girls and a few guys. Three times he denied his friend, the Lord. When he realized what he had done, “he went outside and wept bitterly”.
In my opinion, athletes are the modern day warrior. The pitch, the field, the ice is often described as the battle zone. Athletes will push themselves beyond exhaustion; push their physical and mental limits to win the battle. As a Christian Athlete, it is good to recognize this trait in yourself. It is a good and positive one, but like Peter we can use it to fight the wrong battles. I am constantly amazed to see strong Christian men and women roll over like wimps when they need to fight. They would lay their life down and fight to the bitter end if anyone tried to physically harm their spouse or children, but they are unwilling to lay down their life, swallow their pride and fight for their marriage that is disintegrating. “We’ve just grown out of love”. They are unwilling to fight for their children who are being lost to the world of lust and addictions. They are unwilling to fight their own battles of purity.
It is time that Christian Athletes unleash the warrior inside of them to fight God’s battles. It is time we fight for the family, fight for the abused, fight against the schemes of the enemy. Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” It is time that we fight the right battles. If you are married, fight for your spouse. If you have children fight for them. If you are young and single, fight for your purity so that when you do lead a family you will not be disqualified from the battle. Harness the inner warrior to fight God’s battles not yours.