Have you ever just felt like you were under attack? Have you ever felt like it’s just you against the world, you’re under attack, and it’s time to fight back? Have you ever felt that way yet avoided the temptation to justify yourself, avoided the drive to fight fire with fire, as we say.
Jesus and his disciples had that temptation, never more so than at the point of betrayal when Jesus of Nazareth was taken into custody by the chief priests and elders.
Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? We know from the Gospel of John that it was Peter (of course) who cut off the servants ear. Let me tell you something – Peter loved Jesus. He was with Him until the end. He had his back. And He was, even in the garden, willing to fight to the death for His friend. Peter was willing to fight for what was right. Peter was willing to fight to the death against the injustice that was happening right in front of Him. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” We know this most famously as “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Humanity, since the beginning of civilization, has been living and dying by the sword. We read this, and I really hope you can empathize with Peter. Peter, here as in so many other places in the bible, is every one of us. We feel like we are being wronged, and we are going to fight back!! We are justified in our fighting back. It feels like the RIGHT thing to do.
Peter, I’m sure, felt he was doing the right thing. Peter loved Jesus. Peter believed in Jesus. He believed Jesus was in Jerusalem to be crowned king, and was simply unwilling to accept what seemed to him to be the failure of their mission. He can’t believe what is happening, and he is not going to stand by. He is a fighter. He’s going to STAND UP for what’s right, STAND UP for himself and for Jesus.
Except that Jesus, the Messiah, the long awaited King of Israel who was in Jerusalem to take His rightful throne, stands up and says “NO!!!” In fact, he points out to Peter (and everyone else listening) – Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? Peter still does not understand. But Jesus tells him that if that was His way to the throne, He could call down all of heavens armies right then and there. He is fully capable of fighting for Himself. But remember this from the Sermon on the Mount – “”You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39 ESV. Jesus lives out His own teaching against this worlds systems of retaliation and retribution.
“”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:43-45 ESV. Our ways are to fight back. Jesus says to resist the temptation to retaliate. We want to hate our enemies, we feel justified in holding onto our anger and bitterness against someone who has done wrong to us. But even in this garden, as He’s being taken away into what will be an excruciating (a word which only exists because of what was to come right here) day and night that would end in His final breaths on the cross, Jesus lives out those COMMANDS He gave us – “But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.” Luke 22:51 ESV. He didn’t just NOT call down heavens armies against his would be captors, but he heals ON THE SPOT one of those coming against Him. I’m wondering here if maybe, just maybe, this disillusioned Peter so much that it had something to do with his denials a few hours later? He was expecting Jesus to be crowned king, and was willing to die for his master, but from Jesus it was just another rebuke, and then He’s healing one of those who needed to be defeated.
Let me be honest here – sin is crouching at my door. I’ve been sober from alcohol (and more) since Memorial Day 2014. Yesterday is the closest I’ve come to losing that sobriety. I’m struggling right now. I made a delivery yesterday of a very unique, sought after beer, a beer that I used to really enjoy. And I wanted so much to open one up. I feel like I’m under attack. I’ve been wronged, I’ve been hurt, and I want to fight back. I want to pull out my sword and cut somebody’s fu#%*ing ear off. Since I’ve started my walk of faith, I have not really had a struggle come up that could knock me off. That struggle has come, and now I can better understand the meaning of these words to Peter – “”Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”” Luke 22:31-32 ESV. How do I respond? I can tell you, I’ve been angry, accusing and lashing out. I’ve been right in the eye for an eye trap. I want someone to hurt, to pay, for how I feel I’ve been wronged. I feel justified in maybe giving into one of my temptations. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”” Genesis 4:7 ESV. Like I said, sin is crouching. Like everyone else, I have a choice. This following Jesus just ain’t easy in times like this. Fighting back just feels so right. So now it’s time to, like Jesus, walk the walk, not just talk the talk. But man, it’s a hard walk.
“But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.”
Luke 22:51 ESV
“While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword andstruck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?””
Matthew 26:47-54 ESV