The Pastor’s Piece – March 28, 2021`
Fellowship of Christian Farmers
March 28, 2021
“Ready, Fire, Aim”
“When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And He touched the man’s ear and healed him,” (Luke 22:49-51).
It’s’ midnight in Gethsemane. Jesus has been praying alone. In the distance one can see the flickering lights as a group of soldiers led by Judas crosses the Kidron Valley.
Everything happened so quickly. The disciples had accidentally dozed off when they were supposed to be praying. There was some personal disgust on their part I’m sure because of that. Then a brief conversation, a hurried kiss on the cheek from Judas the betrayer who was one of their own, and the soldiers step forward to take Jesus away. In the confusion and semi-darkness, Peter knows he has to act, he has to do something to protect his master. Grabbing his sword, he takes a wild swing, aiming at no one in particular. The sword finds its mark but not as Peter intended. If he hoped to scare off the soldiers, it didn’t work. If he hoped to inspire the other disciples, that might have worked had not Jesus stepped in.
Peter lopped off the ear of the high priest’s servant. No doubt the servant fell to the ground and began screaming in pain. Blood must have come spurting out of the hole where his ear had been. The soldiers would have drawn their swords, ready to kill Peter. But before things get out of hand, Jesus touches the servant’s ear, healing it instantly. And just like that, the crisis is over.
When we think about what happened that night, we can easily understand Peter’s desire to fight back. Who can blame him? We know from Luke 22:38 that the disciples had two swords with them. (They were no doubt card carrying members of the National Sword Association). Peter was probably trying to split the guy’s head in two – but the angle wasn’t right. I’m sure Malchus (the victim) didn’t just stand still either. I can see it now, Peter draws his sword, there’s a little cat and mouse action between the two, Peter swings wildly, probably yelling as he strikes, and all of a sudden there’s an ear on the ground.
Everything about this story makes perfect sense. You can hardly blame the disciples for thinking, “It’s time to fight,” and of course, we would expect no less from Peter, the volatile, emotional leader who generally acted first and thought about it later. I don’t blame Peter for not fully understanding what was happening. It’s after midnight, and he is tired, distraught, confused, angry, worn out, upset, and in his despair he wants to do something, anything, that will rescue Jesus.
But Jesus doesn’t need his help. He doesn’t want to be rescued.
Jesus can take care of Himself. He says to Peter: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Luke 22:53). Twelve legions would be at least 72,000 angels. Do you think 72,000 angels could handle the soldiers that came out to arrest Jesus? But if Jesus had that sort of power at His disposal, why didn’t He use it? The next verse (Luke 23:54) says that Jesus refrained from calling on those angels because He knew that His arrest was necessary to fulfill God’s plan. “It must happen this way,” Jesus said.
What seems to be the cluttered rush of events turns out to be the plan of God unfolding to bring salvation to the world. When evil seems to be winning, Christ calmly submits, knowing that in the end, God’s will must be done.
J. C. Ryle puts this in perspective:
“He did not die because He could not help it; He did not suffer because He could not escape. All the soldiers of Pilate’s army could not have taken Him, if He had not been willing to be taken. They could not have hurt a hair of His head, if He had not given them permission.”
This is Holy Week, and around the world Christians are celebrating the momentous events that took place 2000 years ago. All the things that we hold most dear were proved to be true during this great week in Jerusalem.
Here’s to hoping you all have a great Easter Sunday. If you don’t have a church to go to, or you want to try something new, take the scenic drive to Martintown, Wisconsin and attend one of our services at 8:00 or 10:30 a.m. We also have a sunrise service at a local farm at 6:30 a.m. Visit us on Facebook or check out our website at Martintowncommunitychurch.org for more information.
May you know and experience the peace of God in your soul this Easter season. God’s best to you all.
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).