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In the middle of Wednesday night of Passion Week, immediately after surrendering Himself to the Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was seized by a mob sent from the religious leaders and led by Judas.  However, having failed to keep watch, Peter was not led by the same Holy Spirit of sacrifice that would be poured out for the salvation of the world, but by his vain boasting earlier that evening.  As a consequence, in the melee that was unfolding he struck the slave of the high priest with one of two swords they had among them.  To protect His sheep from harm at the hands of the well-armed multitude that was marshalled against them, Jesus quickly intervened, commanding Peter to stop, and healed the man’s injury (Luk 22:51).  He then took time, even in that tense moment, to provide a fourfold explanation for why it was wrong for Peter to have struck with the sword, counting His disciples not as slaves who need only to obey, but as friends whom He would have understand His will to be able to serve as partners with Him in His kingdom—a kingdom neither advanced nor defended by the sword.  At the same time His words would also have helped defuse the tense situation with the mob and protect His disciples from harm.

Of first importance Jesus said that if for no other reason, His disciples ought not to take up the sword for their own self-preservation.  “For all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Mat 26:52).  He also gently explained the lack of faith of such actions.  For even at that time when He was caught as if in a net, if He wished to do so He could easily have escaped as He had many times before by means of the infinite resources God has ready to preserve those who walk with Him.  But He understood that in order to accomplish so great a salvation that this was not the will of God, and so He willingly subjected Himself to His Father, trusting His infinite love and demonstrating the nature of true saving faith even unto death, knowing that God is yet able to preserve His servants by raising them up from the dead.  Now, reflecting that faith, for what even more important reasons does Jesus give in Mat 26:54 and Joh 18:11 for why Peter ought not to have struck with the sword?  In what way do these reasons relate to the substance of Jesus’ prayer in the garden, i.e., the submission of His own will to that of the Father?  What does Jesus’ reason in Mat 26:54 reveal about how He as a man understood that it was not the will of the Father for Him to escape but rather to surrender Himself unto death?  Cf. Isa 52:13-53:12.  What does this truth exemplified by the life of Christ and that is succinctly articulated in Mat 26:54 remind us about the supremacy of Scripture as the rule for our lives?  See note[1].

What do Jesus’ words in Joh 18:11 reveal to us about there sometimes being a cup of suffering which the Father may, according to His wisdom, allot to even His most faithful servants?  If we are to follow Christ, what do His words there teach us must likewise be our response at such time as we too are served up a cup of suffering by our heavenly Father?  What does this understanding also teach us about the notion that if only a person is righteous and serves God with a whole heart then God will protect him from all evil and nothing bad will ever happen to him?  What then is the difference between so much of the suffering we see in the world that is in fact self-inflicted as a consequence of people’s sins (such as illnesses from drunkenness or gluttony or immorality, or deprivations from violating just laws or acting foolishly) and the suffering that may afflict even the most righteous of men?  See 1Pe 2:19-21, 4:12-16.  As no one is immune from suffering, which we understand is a universal experience among fallen humanity, shall we as Christians then suffer for unrighteousness, or for righteousness?  Whereas the sufferings of the unrighteous often embitter them against God and their circumstances, how should we as Christians view our sufferings, and what result should they produce in us?  See Jam 1:2-4, 5:10-11; cf. Heb 5:8-9.  How is this again related to the true faith by which we are saved (Eph 2:8-9) and that was demonstrated by Jesus in the garden when He surrendered Himself to the will of the Father, even unto death, trusting that God would not abandon Him, but would raise Him from the dead?  Have we the same faith that is willing to suffer for righteousness even unto death, trusting that God is able to also raise us from the dead?  Cf. Rev 12:11.

Consider again that the fulfillment of Scripture, which is the revelation of the Father’s will to man, and submission to that will of the Father even when served a cup of suffering, were given by Jesus for why Peter ought not to have struck with the sword.  What other words did Jesus reveal during His ministry upon the earth as the Father’s will that we regard as Scripture, that also teach against taking up the sword, and that may likewise result in a similar cup of suffering for those who faithfully follow His example?  See Mat 5:38-48, Luk 6:27-38.  Is that what Jesus really expects of His disciples?  See Mat 16:24-25, Luk 9:23, 13:23-24.

[1] In all difficult cases, the word of God must be conclusive against our own counsels, and nothing must be done, nothing attempted, against the fulfilling of the scripture.  If the easing of our pains, the breaking of our bonds, the saving of our lives, will not consist with the fulfilling of the scripture, we ought to say, “Let God’s word and will take place, let his law be magnified and made honorable, whatever becomes of us.”  Matthew Henry.

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