In the Garden of Gethsemane on Wednesday night of Passion week Jesus was identified by Judas with a kiss and seized by those he led from the Sanhedrin to arrest Him. Having emerged victorious through prayer from the fear of suffering that had crushed Him for His Holy Spirit which would be poured out for our salvation, He was fully resolved to subject Himself to the Father’s will and suffer unto death the injustice that now confronted Him. But Peter, having earlier boasted of His resolve to not deny Jesus and even to die with Him, has now impetuously struck one of those who were sent to lay hands on Jesus and arrest Him. With only two swords among the small number of them (Luk 22:38) and the “great multitude” armed with swords and clubs (Mat 26:47) that was sent for the express purpose of crushing Jesus’ following (cf. Joh 11:47-48, 12:19), what danger did Peter’s rashness put all of them in? Although his intention was to demonstrate his faithfulness unto death, in fact, how did the danger he put them all in demonstrate that his action was rooted in pride, and not in true love or faithfulness to Jesus and the kingdom He came to establish on earth? Think: Does God ever expect us to foolishly throw our own lives away, let alone the lives of others? Cf. 1Co 6:19-20. What does this teach us about how it is impossible to truly love and serve God faithfully apart from the moment by moment leading of His Spirit that seeks both to understand and obey the will of God in every circumstance? Recall that the disciples had asked if they should strike with the sword (Luk 22:49), but in the frenzy of the moment Peter sprang into action without waiting for an answer; is it ever possible to serve God faithfully if we act on our own impulse without waiting for clear direction from the Lord? Cf. 1Sa 13:8-14, Jam 4:13-16. What do these things again teach us about the nature of true salvation as the continual abiding in fellowship with God and subjecting our own will to His as we are led by His Spirit? Cf. Rom 8:14.
Although each gospel account is unique in the minor details it includes or omits, who do all four gospels identify as the one whom Peter struck? See Mat 26:51, Mar 14:47, Luk 22:50. What additional information does John include about the man? See Joh 18:10. Why might John have known his name? See Joh 18:15-16; cf. Joh 18:26 where John also records that it was one of the relatives of Malchus that confronted Peter about being a follower of Jesus that caused him to deny Him. What is the significance that it was the slave of the high priest whom Peter struck, whom Jesus healed (Luk 22:51), and who had another relative employed by the high priest? Think: Is it possible that those events would remain unknown to the high priest, who was intent on finding grounds to have Jesus put to death? And in spite of Peter’s violent outburst that could have killed one who had been sent by the lawful authority, why did the Jewish leaders who were seeking that very sort of evidence against Jesus not use that event to charge Him before Pilate? Cf. Joh 18:36 and think: would the Jewish leaders have been keen on presenting evidence to Pilate that demonstrated Jesus’ power, compassion and good works by healing the high priest’s own slave from a wound inflicted by one of His own disciples? Would Pilate, even as a pagan Roman, have understood that such a man was a threat to the Romans as He was being accused by the Jewish leaders? What then does the fact that all four gospels indicate that it was the slave of the high priest whom Peter struck communicate about the culpability of the high priest in having Jesus unfairly put to death? What does this also remind us about the importance of due process in any just system of jurisprudence? Consider that the Jews took great pride in the law of Moses and rightly understood it as a light to the Gentiles, and the high priest was the most important Jew entrusted with the safekeeping of the law; what does this injustice committed by the high priest and the other Jewish leaders that even Pilate would have recognized indicate about the inability of the law to save even the most righteous man who according to their understanding the law ought to have protected? Cf. Joh 11:49-50, Rom 2:17-24, and consider how Paul also came to understand that as great and glorious as the law was to illumine the sin that separates man from God and true salvation (Isa 42:21), it had no power to save him from his sin. See also Rom 2:1-3,12-16. Rather than being saved by our own attempts to keep even the most perfect law given to man, what does the gospel teach us about true salvation by the way of the cross and dying to sin in order to be raised to newness of life? See Rom 6:1-11, 2Co 5:17, Gal 3:24, Phil 3:7-11.
The Atonement of Christ's Blood: Understanding How the Blood of Christ Saves and Reconciles us to God
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
- From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
- Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
- Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
- What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?