“His robe was spotted with blood. A head wound of any kind is messy, and Peter had cut off a man’s ear. He probably had never used a sword before, ”
That’s how I was going to start telling the story of Peter denying that he knew Jesus. It’s one of the many stories from the night of the Crucifixion. I wanted to look at Peter.
I was pretty sure about the blood. I’ve watched enough CSI to know about spatter. But when I started thinking about the sword, I stopped. Was it a sword as we think of broadswords from the movies of the knights? Or was it a long knife, the kind that a fisherman might use early in the morning to prepare fish for market?
Why does it matter?
Because I’ve heard people suggest that Peter was using an unfamiliar weapon, that he was so inept that he hit the ear while aiming for the man’s head. Peter, the blundering rube. We get that picture because he came from an area that snooty people considered backward. He was described by religious snobs as untaught.
But maybe Peter was a successful small business owner. He had a couple of boats available. He was able to leave his nets and follow Jesus and still have his family provided for. When Jesus predicted denial, Peter was shocked. He trusted Jesus, in the same way that he knew he trusted himself. He worked hard to understand. When challenged , he stepped up. When someone he cared about was in danger, he used a weapon he knew well and issued a warning. Which Jesus didn’t affirm. Instead, Jesus healed the ear and scolded Peter.
Which brings us to where we started: Peter, by the fire outside the interrogation of Jesus, in a blood-spotted robe.