“So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?'” – John 18:11
Jesus was about to be crucified. He felt the weight of what God had called him to do, and we even see him sweat blood in the garden as he prayed for this cup to be taken from him. God had called Jesus to die, and though Jesus was overwhelmed “to the point of death,” Jesus was in perfect submission to that plan. This is something Peter didn’t understand, so when a group of men came to arrest Jesus, Peter attempted to fight back. I imagine he had many questions.
Wasn’t Jesus the Messiah? What kind of victory is death? Doesn’t it mean you’ve lost if your enemy kills you? How can humiliation lead to victory?
In humility, Jesus bowed to the Father’s will. He accepted that to which God had called him and told Peter through a rhetorical question that it is not fruitful to fight against God’s will. The jar has no right to critique the work of the potter. Peter eventually learned this and is killed in the same way of Jesus. However, according to tradition, Peter is said to have been crucified upside down because he didn’t believe he was worthy to be crucified like Jesus was.
This call to death isn’t unique to Jesus or Peter or the rest of the apostles. In fact, Jesus calls all of his followers to follow him into death. This doesn’t mean we will be crucified, but we are required to lay aside our own preferences and ideas about what our life should look like or who Jesus should be to us and what he should do for us.
It’s a painful death that looks like surrender and defeat, but the good news is that Jesus didn’t call us to do something he wasn’t willing to do himself. Jesus walked into the grave before us and showed us what was on the other side. He showed us resurrection and life.
He didn’t simply tell us to take the plunge, but he dove into the deep end first and showed us that it would all be okay. He shined a light under the bed, alleviating our fears, so we could find rest in him.
The call to share in Christ’s sufferings is a hard truth. Sometimes faith feels like walking down a dark path that only becomes visible when we actually decide to step forward. Yet even in all of this uncertainty that comes with a faithful, sacrificial life, we don’t need to worry because there is someone who has walked this path before us, and he is there to comfort, encourage, and guide us through all of our stumbling and fears.