It was the moment he had been waiting for. It was the moment that Jesus would start his revolution. It was the moment that Peter would join Jesus in igniting a Jewish liberation movement. It was time for the prophesied Messiah to take action, and Peter was going to be his right-hand man.
The Pharisees stood in the garden at Gethsemane, weapons and torches in hand, awaiting the moment that they would finally apprehend the rebel leader – the man praying and crying in the dirt.
Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servants name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Then Luke 22:51 tells us,
But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.”
It was in fact the moment that Peter had been waiting for. It was the moment that Jesus started a revolution. It was the moment that Peter could join Jesus in a liberation movement. It was the time in which the Messiah took action. And he healed.
When his enemy came with swords to bring destruction he did not call for reciprocal destruction, but instead, restoration. That was the revolution Jesus started. That was the liberation movement Jesus ignited. That was the action of the Messiah.
That is the same revolution, the same liberation movement, the same action, the same ministry to which we are called today. We are called to be the ones who put away the sword.
Even when we are under attack.
It is easy to look at the world today and want to fight back. It seems we are opposed on every side. The media corrupts us from the inside out, the government prohibits and enables actions with which we disagree, and religious movements are terrorizing Christians around the world.
It would be easy to come at the world with swords and clubs and Facebook posts. It would be easy to declare the world wrong, to protest, and to fight. It would be easy to condemn and to overpower. But we are the ones who are called to put away the sword.
The world should know that we are disciples of Christ by our love, not our hate. When we respond to opposing views and actions with hate and fear, we validate their actions. When we respond with love we nullify them. We do not need to defend the Almighty. We need to call upon the Almighty to defend us.
We are those who turn the other cheek. We are those who go the second mile. We are the peacemakers. We are the empowered. We are the fearless. We are the hopeful.
So, when radical sects terrorize Western and Christian peoples, put away your sword. Know that they act out of fear because they do not have confidence in a God who provides an everlasting city with foundations. Know that they act out of hate because they do not put faith in a God who has expressed love toward all people. Do not respond in kind like those who set French refugee camps on fire. Do not respond in kind like those who hate all Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or humanists for these acts. Respond with prayer for those oppressed by these groups and these groups who are oppressed by their religion. Respond with peaceful dialogue with those who are different from you to build relationships and reveal the character of Christ. Respond to hate and fear with a love that casts out fear.
When the government upholds a ruling that you feel is contradictory to Christian standards, put away your sword. Know that they act according to a different standard than you. Know that they strive to maintain peace and prosperity among a people that does not value God. Know that we are not called to judge those who are outside the Kingdom of God. Do not respond in kind, with hateful statements disrespect for the views of others. Respond with prayer for those who rule, because that is a difficult job for anyone. Respond with honor for those who are in power. Respond with love and positive dialogue with those whom you disagree.
When a colleague contradicts truth, when a friend betrays you, when a family member disappoints you, when a loved one is found to be a hypocrite; put away your sword. Know they, like you, are trying to live their best life. Know that they act out of fear, insecurity, and ignorance. Know that you have made mistakes as well. Do not respond in kind with slander, condemnation, or hate. Respond in love, in kindness, in peace, in understanding, in gentleness, and in truth.
When you receive a red cup at Starbucks, put away your sword. Know that it is difficult for baristas to make that Pumpkin Spice Latte you wanted when their lives hang in the balance. I don’t know why you brought your sword to Starbucks in the first place.
Faith in Christ brings enmity between his Kingdom and the world. It is because the is the Kingdom is where the Prince of Peace rules while we live in a world bent on destruction. He instills us with peace within though there is chaos without. He did not overcome the world by fighting back. He overcame the world by putting away the sword. He came to Earth not to condemn, but to save; not to declare war, but to reconcile; not to destroy, but to heal.
If we are to drink the cup our Father has given us, and trust him to carry us through it, we too must put away our swords. If we are to imitate Christ and his ministry to a hostile world we must put away our swords. If we are to be led by the Spirit of God, we must put away our swords.
And besides, when victory is promised to us by an omnipotent God, we really have no need for a sword anyways.