In a beautiful garden, one familiar to Jesus and his disciples for he had taught them there many times the story of Jesus consummates from one of the Christ attempting to prepare his flock of followers for the inevitable to one where the solders came, with a representative of the high priest, to arrest Jesus. But Peter still could not conceive of what was about to happen. He had conjured in his mind that he would be a general in the Lord’s army which would lead the Hebrew people into a great victory over Rome establishing them with the leadership they long deserved. When Peter saw that the soldiers were taking Jesus away as a prisoner he could contain himself no longer. Peter ran to block the way of the entourage with sword drawn and, most likely recognizing Malchus who was representing the high priest at the arrest, swung his sword in an attempt to cut off the head of the intruder. However, not trained as a military man, Peter’s poor aim resulted in the removal of Malchus’ ear, and a very upset Christ who said quietly, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Then Jesus replaced the ear onto Malchus’ head and proceeded to go with the solders willingly, as Peter remained astonished and confused at what had just occurred causing him even to doubt the very one he had followed for several years. (JOH 18:1-18-NIV) This part of the salvation story is of utmost importance to believers today who try to follow Christ. Here’s why. . .
Throughout human history mankind has been violent. It seems to be an inevitable, almost innate characteristic of people which wells it’s ugly head at sometimes the most inopportune times and, without a doubt, causes reason to question our ability to ever be able to emulate such a Prince of Peace such as Jesus. But that is exactly what those who proclaim Jesus as Lord are called to do.
Jesus knew how difficult such a command would be for us to obey. Jesus explained to Matthew and the other disciples,
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. (MAT 11:11-13-NIV)
Throughout the Old Testament there is presented extreme violence of war after war, murders, slavery, and multitudes of various persecutions while the Hebrew people have attempted to both regain their homeland and serve Jehovah God at the same time. This attempt to live successfully in two realms in the same lifetime creates chaos in a person’s mind and is, according to Jesus, impossible (MAT 6:24). However the materialism of property on which to live which can be called one’s own is very important in our minds if we are to feel freedom in this world. Thus, it seems, we are willing to fight and die for it.
But Jesus never gave the order to Peter to defend his right to movement, or his ability to teach of the Kingdom of God, nor for any other purpose. Earlier he had pleaded with his father (Jehovah) that the fact that he would be tried and executed as a common criminal be removed from his future, but realizing that plea was impossible if he were to carry out his mission he accepted it and went on toward his fate (MATT 26:39-42-NIV).
This is why scriptures indicate that even though he could call upon multitudes of angels to defend him during the crisis of his judgement here on Earth, he did not. He accepted his fate, written by his trusted father/god, and “marched on” toward a greater victory without violence. (MAT 26:53-NIV)
By accepting his responsibilities, Jesus was teaching his disciples and us one of the most important truths ever to be expressed in this world to know the difference between being an animal or a child of the living God. To recognize our relationship to God means to accept there are greater things in the universe than the physical and higher realms of reality than what we can sense with our common five senses. In short, violence leads to violence and in reality accomplishes nothing, but the way of peace creates within people the reality that there is a way through which all can be accomplished.
This message has been expressed by several other great spiritual leaders, both Christian and those of other faiths, through man’s short history. Ghandi’s leadership to India’s independence, Martin Luther King’s bold leadership of the black revolution in the middle of the twentieth century and others have walked in great physical danger, some even to be killed, to promote right thinking and right actions in a peaceful way.
But the Christian faith has been riddled with violence ever since our Lord’s resurrection. Ever since the escape from Jerusalem when Rome came into the City of Jerusalem and destroyed the Hebrew temple there, the believers who call themselves Christian have armed themselves and gone to battle in defense of their faith. The Christian Crusades and other battles which was fought to embolden the Christian believers and to defend their right to exist against those who would argue otherwise.
Even massive worldwide wars like World War II have been promoted as a good thing for Christian believers to do because of the cruel and inhumane things being done by those being fought against. So we could not set back and do nothing while a despot rampaged over Europe, raping the land and slaughtering millions of Jews simply because they existed.
Now, today, we are facing a new yet ever so common a threat to our ability to follow the Prince of Peace. Several years ago this country called the United States was attacked in a very unexpected way. It seemed to be from within, using our own commercial aircraft as weapons and our own fear as the main tool to change this country from within.
What am I saying? Oh, we are not afraid? Don’t kid yourself. If this country is not afraid then why have we developed the most powerful military the world has ever known. Why have we declared war on a group of nationless faces who have likewise declared war on us, and for much the same reasons. And why has our political circumstances in this country become so chaotic that we are considering placing into leadership two questionable choices; either a person who has been struggling with court cases and questionable character during the whole presidential campaign or one who says he will build walls, build defenses, and eliminate certain people and traditional thought which this country has developed and known for centuries. And, furthermore, why is it that from the pulpits of this country’s churches who claim to worship the father of the Pirince of Peace do we hear church leaders telling congregates to arm themselves? Only fear creates such an atmosphere.
The U.S. citizen becomes the modern Peter in this scenario. For too long we have been following our animalistic selves and drawing our swords without thinking that there might be a better way. The Lord’s way. If we strike out with that sword, we could cut off the ear of the priests and political leaders of other countries and for what reason? It would do no good. Those in other places of the world could then not hear us and those we thought were friends would most likely choose otherwise. Could it be that there is a better way? A way of peace. A way of trying to set back and consider what we see and are experiencing before striking out and cutting off the world’s ear causing them to be unable to hear our need for help? After Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, Peter slinked into a corner of the garden palace and found himself denying his faith in the Christ three times. Are we, the nation who has carried the Holy Bible to the whole world, about to have a similar experience? Are we about to deny our faith in the Prince of Peace?
We need to get to a quiet place, pray, observe our circumstances and realize that fear is not the choice, except to fear fear itself. We must make some very hard choices in this country within the next few months. I pray everyone will make the choice best for the Lord we claim to trust. But listen to the Spirit of the Lord, “Peter, put away your sword.” Put away your knives, your guns, your bombs and your rockets. Put away your fear. For even as Christ had to drink of the cup his father gave him, so must we drink ours. Even as Christ had to die to show mankind mercy by saving us from Satan’s fear, so must we deny that fear from causing us to live without peace.