Perish by the Sword
51 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. 52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
In Matthew’s account of the story, he leaves out who actually drew the sword from amongst the apostles. Perhaps he was trying to protect a friend from embarrassment or to keep his character intact, we don’t know. This of course wouldn’t make too much sense since we learn about Peter’s betrays of Christ just a few verses below. And of course we know it was Peter because John gives us that detail. What Peter does is a very common human trait. When we are put in a corner or scared, we react- many times with violence. Peter, you could argue, was only being human here. What Jesus says in regards to his act is very telling.
Let’s not forget that Jesus himself said to get a sword: Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
Now many scholars and pastors will tell you that Jesus was talking about the word of God. I completely agree with this but also think that the apostles who heard at the time did not. Peter might have even been carrying a sword because of what Jesus said.
But now, as he is facing his arrest and betrayer, Jesus has a very different message. Those who use the sword will die by the sword. It’s a statement that has been used throughout history and has proven to be true time and time again. What was Jesus trying to say in the larger picture.
Outside of the obvious argument against violence, Jesus was really telling us to truly accept that new spiritual heart and change from our ‘just being human’. Peter could have been better, should have been better but instead moved in the lowest common denominator. How many times do we do the same?
Jesus wants us to be better but how many times do we just let our old self come through. Many people say ‘that’s just my nature’ or ‘I was born this way’ or even ‘this is just who I am’. That’s not good enough. Jesus demands more. Jesus expects growth from our old selves.
Yes, Jesus takes us as we are but the true Christian will never stay that way. And that is more than just changing what we eat or what we wear. It is a real, true, character and attitude change. That is what Jesus is looking from you today.
Pr. Steven Couto