Put Your Sword Away! "I don’t understand" races through Peters mind over and over and over.
Shaking and disoriented, Peter breaths heavy. There’s blood on the ground, it’s spattered across Jesus robe. Peter can taste the iron saltiness of it on his lips. He stands, frantic with desperation, over a mutilated piece of flesh. Angry tears blur his vision, he grits his teeth as he moves to strike the man again.
“Put your sword away!” Jesus demands.
Peter barely recognizes his lord and friends voice. Everything is falling apart. The night is full with panic and horror.
Jesus speaks again.
“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
It felt like a slap across the face; everything Peter believed, being sifted like wheat.
Peter watched as Jesus leaned over the man he'd just struck with his sword. The man had fallen to his knees and now clutched the right side of his head; blood running between his fingers and down his arm.
Jesus “touched the mans ear and healed him.”
Peter had seen this so many times, Jesus kindness, His goodness, His healing, His sovereign love.
“I don’t understand” races through Peter's mind again as Jesus, the man he loved, the man he followed with all his strength, the man he had just given his life for, reprimanded him, “All who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
“I don’t understand,” tormented Peter as he followed the prisoner Jesus is into the temple grounds.
“I don’t understand” ravaged his heart as he denied that he knew the man he loved, once, twice, three times.
“I don’t understand” dismantled him, as he caught Jesus eye from across the courtyard.
“I don’t understand” sifted him like wheat as he fled the temple.
“And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Just hour’s earlier Peter thought he understood. “Lord I’m ready to go with you to prison or death.”
Just hours earlier Peter believed that Jesus kingdom on earth would need swords and men willing to use them. It would require sacrifice, the wiliness to die for Jesus, and also, the willingness to kill for Jesus.
The sovereign control narrative perverts everything, even our passionate love of God! It manipulates love into a desperate defense of our broken ideology.
We see it evidenced throughout history, well meaning Christians committed to murder in order to defend their idea of God.
The mindset is alive today. Open up Facebook and you’ll see it, well meaning Christians attacking others to defend their idea of God.
It’s everywhere, well meaning Christians preaching from church pulpits, political platforms, across the web, across the airwaves, attacking a person or organization in order to defend their idea of God.
Well meaning Christians destroying families and friendships and derailing great moves of God; well meaning Christians manipulating scripture to develop cult like devotion to the desperate defense of ideologies absolutely contrary to the revelation of Jesus.
Please get this, Peter didn’t defend Jesus, he defended his belief about Jesus. Peter believed that, if the kingdom was to be established on earth as it is in heaven, at some point Jesus must assume control. Except, Jesus never once modeled this.
If your understanding leads to anxiety, you don’t understand. Put your sword away!
If your love of God leads you to act out of fear, you need a greater revelation of His love. Put your sword away!
If you feel you must attack someone in order to defend your thoughts about God, it’s a good sign your thoughts about God are wrong. Put your sword away!
If you find yourself desperate and insecure on Gods behalf, you don’t have the whole story. Put your sword away!
Desperation is not a sign of spiritual maturity, it’s a sign we’re still journeying into His goodness, our minds still being renewed; it’s a sign we are still growing sure in sovereign love.
After the resurrection, Jesus met Peter on a beach and three times restored him with the question, “Do you love?”
“Lord you know” Peter answered.
Lord you know. That’s the answer God trusts.
This interaction wasn’t about whether Peter loved Jesus; that was never in question. This interaction was about where Peter would put His faith. Would it be in his understanding, in his love for God, or would it be in Gods sovereign love for him.
In the garden, Peter attempted murder because of his zealous love for Jesus. It nearly killed him. Our faith can never be in our love for God.
In the garden, Peter attempted murder in defense of what he knew. It nearly destroyed him. Our faith can never be in what we know.
In the garden, Peter attempted murder to help Jesus assume control. It led to bitter sorrow. Our faith can never be in sovereign control.
Our faith must be in the sovereignty of His love.
And when it is, we can be trusted with a sword.
"Feed my sheep…"
This is excerpted from Jason's forthcoming book, The Whole Story.
Jason Clark is an author, speaker and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new books, Prone To Love & Untamed, are available where books are sold.