A Violent Reaction
Text: Matthew 26 : 45 - 56
A violent reaction from the disciples was not totally unexpected. Matthew was candid enough to record this event.
“And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out
his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest,
and cut off his ear.”
We have yet another study of contrasts again. This time the contrast is not between Teacher and disciple. The contrast is between disciple and disciple! We have a disciple who was disenchanted with Jesus for his own undisclosed reasons, and ended up betraying Him. We have another disciple who was so fiercely loyal to Jesus he took a sword to defend Him.
The odds were all against the disciples. They were outnumbered. They were only eleven, whereas the soldiers were described as “a great multitude” (Matthew 26:47). The disciples had only two swords among them (Luke 22:38), whereas the posse that came after Jesus were armed with “swords and clubs” (Matthew 26:47). Moreover, the disciples were not people who had been trained for physical warfare. What were the odds of the disciples beating their enemies? What terrible tragedy would have been sustained if there had been a pitched battle between the disciples and the soldiers? Peter, without thinking too rationally, led the attack against the soldiers. Was this what he meant when he said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny You…” (Matthew 26:35)? His heart was in the right place, but he had failed to comprehend what Jesus had spoken about how He MUST fulfil the Scriptures by being crucified.
The Gospel of John recorded the short word that Jesus spoke to Peter concerning his violent reaction (All the Gospels recorded this incident).
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck
the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s
name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword
into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father
has given Me?'”
IF JESUS HAD WANTED TO GIVE BATTLE
Jesus had to rebuke and restrain Peter, who was beside himself with anger and grief! He had seen Judas betraying his Master. Despite all his failings, he loved Jesus as much as any of the other disciples. He may not have the refinement to offer Jesus spikenard, but he had a good right arm. He also had a sword. Surely he could not be expected to do nothing! Peter needed more knowledge as to how Jesus was handling the situation that seemed to be headed for sheer disaster! Jesus had not lost control of the situation at hand. He was still in absolute control!
“But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place,
for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father,
and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions
of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled,
that it must happen thus?'”
“All who take up the sword will perish by the sword”
Right to the very end, Jesus was still their Teacher. Had not Peter understood why Jesus did not want His disciples to take up the sword? If Jesus’ original intention were to set up an earthly, political kingdom, would He not have focused on training an army? The age-old axiom still held true. Those who lived by the sword would perish by the sword. But surely that was not what the disciples had learned from their Master these last three years!
“Twelve legions of angels”
A full Roman legion would be made up of several thousand soldiers. The Roman legions were the most feared fighting force the world over. But how would they feature if they were to be pitted against twelve legions of angels, or about eighty four thousand angelic soldiers?
Imagine twelve legions of angels at the beck and call of the Father. Imagine their being just a prayer away! These legions of angels would have wiped off all the armies of the world combined together! Jesus did not need Peter’s sword to defend Him!
“How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled?”
Once again, Jesus brought His disciples to the place of the Scriptures in life.
1. Did the Scriptures cover ALL situations, including this moment?
Peter and the loyal disciples must extend their faith further. They must believe that the Scriptures did indeed cover this aspect of Jesus being arrested!
2. How should one respond to the Scriptures?
There was only one way to respond to the Scriptures. Jesus had set the perfect example. He sought always to OBEY the Scriptures. Let us consider four aspects of the concept of obedience.
a) Obedience means comprehension of the Scriptures.
b) Obedience means recognition of the Will of God revealed in the Scriptures.
c) Obedience means acceptance of that revealed Will of God.
d) Obedience then results in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
Jesus exemplified what it meant to be totally obedient to the Scriptures!