John 18:11 – Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" (NIV)
I used to fence with swords when I was a teenager. A friend and I somehow managed to purchase two foils in a secondhand shop. I think we originally bought them for a play we were doing, but we got so hooked on the swords that we started to fence outside in my backyard.
It was good fun, but we used no masks or protective clothing, so it was pretty painful at times. The foils were tipped, but if they scraped across open skin, a scar was left for days. We worked out a staged fight and used to entertain the local kids, as well as some bus drivers and their passengers who stopped to watch us for a couple of minutes each day.
Then, one day, my friend lunged at me and hit me in the face. He hit the corner of my right eye, which left a nasty red mark across my face. If he had hit me a quarter of an inch to the left, I would have lost the eye. It was a very painful and poignant moment. That night we put the swords away and decided to take up judo instead.
Peter just wanted to protect Jesus when he lunged at Malchus with his sword. Of all the disciples, he was the only one who defended Christ. It was an impetuous and impossible thing to do. The high priest's posse had arrived with clubs and swords, so no matter what Peter did, Jesus would still have been arrested.
But Jesus didn't rebuke the posse. He rebuked Peter, which must have seemed harsh at the time. It's only later that we realize that Jesus was protecting Peter from being taken. The big fisherman was not about to be caught in the Sanhedrin's trap. By insisting that Christ had to drink the cup of wrath from God, Jesus was giving Peter a way out. He was diverting attention away from Peter and turning it towards Himself. It was an act of grace. It was a gift from God.
Sometimes, as Christians, we get fired up and are full of zeal for the Lord. We want to protect Him from all the damage that the world still wants to cause Him, but in the process we act irrationally and put ourselves in danger. We forget that Christ has the power to make things right and that one glorious day, His justice will prevail.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we love You and we want to please You. Forgive us when our zeal blinds our reason and our forceful ways diminish our faith. Grant us the godly gift of discernment, to know when and how to say and do the right things, as opposed to doing them at the wrong time, in an un-Christian way. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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