Day 162: Human Effort

John 18:10-11:

Simon Peter therefore, having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus therefore said to Peter, “Put the sword into its sheath. The cup which the Father has given me, shall I not surely drink it?”

Sometimes, we try to prove ourselves to God. In fact, many preach that this is the way to be a true Christian. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Peter knew that Jesus had said that He would deny Jesus and that he didn’t really have the strength to do anything to help. It appears from the story here that Peter wanted to prove himself to Jesus. He had told Jesus that He would die for Him and Jesus had told him that the opposite would happen. From what we read yesterday, we know that Jesus had already implied that the disciples had permission to leave and go back home. Perhaps Peter thought that this was his chance to make a difference.

As a Christian, I felt that there were many times that I was expected to make a choice and perform. I was supposed to “Do the right thing.” I felt encouraged to do so by others at church as well. The problem is that just deciding to do something on our own, as good as we think it may be, may actually be the wrong thing to do. Many sins are performed with good intentions, especially in church.

The Bible tells us that it is God who works in us to choose and to act according to His good purpose. Since both our choosing and our ability to act is dependent on God, when we act outside of that dependence, we act alone and in sin, no matter how good it may seem to us at the time.

Jesus had to die on the cross and He had to do it now. Peter was following the will of Satan to do what he was doing by stopping Jesus from being captured. Peter needed Jesus to save him much more than he needed to prove himself. That’s how it is with us too. When we focus on our own strength, we fail to look at our own true condition and the only one who is able to improve it.

Jesus knew that the disciples had not yet received power from the Holy Spirit. He didn’t expect them to take action without that Holy Spirit, or Himself as their guide. Jesus wasn’t guiding Peter to attack. Jesus was guiding Him to safety. It is very important for us to remember that all of the commands given to us as Christians were not given to us to follow without first having the help of the Holy Spirit to make it possible.