Sheathing the sword - Hope 103.2

Sheathing the sword

By David ReayMonday 20 Jan 2014LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Matthew 26:47-54

47 And even as Jesus said this,Judas,one of the twelve disciples,arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor,Judas,had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings,Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said,”My friend,go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave,slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us,and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did,how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?” (NLT)

In Jesus’ day,there was a group of people called Zealots who resorted to violence in order to stay true to God and resist his enemies. Jesus didn’t form any alliances with them. He refused to endorse violence as a means of advancing the rule of God. Even in Gethsemane,his life under threat,he rebuked violence. God’s ways in this case would be followed by sheathing the sword not using it.

It is a lesson not learned by many Christians throughout history. Time and time again the church has tried to enforce its beliefs on others through physical violence. The Crusades,the Inquisitions,the Conquistadors of South and Central America-all futile attempts to advance the cause of God. We could perhaps extend this aggression to verbal assaults on those who differ from us. When will we ever learn that people cannot be bullied into faith?

There may be extreme cases where nations have to use force,and in cases of criminality the use of legitimate force is accepted. But we must never see it as the means by which we bring in the rule of God. Jesus was all about bringing in this rule but never used violent means. The idea of Christians lashing out violently against those who disagree with them is foreign to the spirit of Jesus.

Being zealous for Jesus isn’t being an arrogant religious bully or a grim-faced fanatic intent on wiping out the ‘bad guys’. We are engaged in a war but it is a different sort of war and thus fought with different sorts of weapons.

David Reay