Jesus' kindness to an injured enemy

Posted Feb 21, 2020

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Daily Scripture

Luke 22:47-53

47 While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd appeared, and the one called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him.

48 Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Human One [or Son of Man] with a kiss?”

49 When those around him recognized what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we fight with our swords?” 50 One of them struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.

51 Jesus responded, “Stop! No more of this!” He touched the slave’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come to get him, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, as though I were a thief? 53 Day after day I was with you in the temple, but you didn’t arrest me. But this is your time, when darkness rules.”

Reflection Questions

We get a sense of the fear and hatred of Jesus' enemies when we read that they brought “a crowd” to arrest just that one man. Peter bravely drew his sword to defend Jesus. Verse 50 suggests that his courage went far beyond his skill with that sword. Luke, probably showing his physician’s heart (cf. Colossians 4:14), recorded that Jesus’ kindness moved him even to heal the ear that Peter’s slightly misaimed blow had cut off a servant of one of Jesus' leading foes.

  • Think about the man Malchus (John 18:10 gave his name). “A personal servant of the high priest could wield much authority, including over the temple police.”* We never read more about him in the New Testament. Could he have stayed busy the next day seeking Jesus' execution, even with his ear restored by Jesus' healing touch? Or might Jesus' healing kindness have so touched his heart that, if not right away, maybe at least 50 days later at Pentecost he was part of the 3,000 who heard Peter’s preaching and joined the Jesus movement (cf. Acts 2:36-41)?
  • Jesus knew the road to finishing his mission ran through the cross. But he also knew that Peter’s life, lived by Kingdom values, would do more to defeat evil than his sword ever would. Later Jesus told the Roman procurator Pilate, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight…. My kingdom isn’t from here” (John 18:36). We still live in a world where violence, verbal if not physical, often feels like the only viable response to evil. Is it? When have you needed to let God’s spirit show you a kinder, more Christ-like way to handle an issue?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, Peter found it harder to live for you than it would have been to die trying to defend you. Sometimes I have that struggle, too. Keep teaching me the power of your kindness in changing hearts and lives. Amen.


* HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 241308-241309). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

To help us better understand today’s passage, I thought it would be helpful to “visit” with Oliver Zorh, expert sword craftsman & owner of Blue Valley’s Forge.

DL: Thanks for your time.  Tell us a bit about the sword business.

Zohr, O.:  My pleasure.  It is an enjoyable vocation.  You get to smelt/design your own swords & be as creative as you like.  On the other hand it can be challenging.  For example, we use cutting-edge technology for our blades, but our competitors can slice into our market share by slashing prices on what is really cut-rate quality merchandise. You definitely have to stay sharp.

DL: Do you still fence?

Zohr, O.: No.  My doctor encouraged me to stop after I complained of having a sharp, stabbing pain each time I fenced.

DL: So, what are your thoughts on today’s passage?

Zohr, O.: It’s fascinating.  You have this huge contingent of guards coming to arrest Jesus.  This just seems so over-the-top.

DL: I think there might be several reasons to send a large arrest party: Remember Jesus had eluded capture earlier at the Temple, a large posse would also give credence to their claim that Jesus was trying to start a revolution & overthrow Caesar, & it would intimidate any of Jesus’ followers & make any attempt at resistance seem futile.

Zohr, O.:  But Peter does resist.  Peter draws his sword & cuts the Chief Priest’s servant’s ear off.  Noting that Peter was a fisherman by trade & his sword was one of just 2 swords the Disciples had recently purchased, we can probably guess that the ear was not Peter’s intended target. 

DL: Agreed.  Then Jesus rebukes Peter & instantly heals the ear.  This is an interesting miracle.  No dirt/saliva serum like with the Blind Man, no prayer of preparation ala Lazarus, & no statement like “your faith has made you well” as in the Hemorrhaging Woman.  It was just a touch of the ear & it was healed.

Zohr, O: With the benefit of hindsight, I understand Jesus’ scolding Peter.  However, on that dark Thursday night I really admire Peter.  He knew the “fix” was in & there was no earthly way that Jesus was ever going to walk free.  He had to conclude that this was it.  This was the ultimate/final battle between good & evil.  Regardless of the odds, Peter was going to go down fighting to save Jesus.

DL: Exactly.  How was Peter to know about the glorious Sunday morning to come?  Before we scold Peter, perhaps we are more like him than we know.  Sometimes we Christians can stuck on “Thursday Night” like when we are concerned about our Sunday School students seemingly drifting, or when we are frustrated by the lack of results of our earnest prayers for that prodigal friend or family member who has lost their way, or when we are irritated that even our own spiritual life seems bleak & God seems very distant. 

But.  We forget that come Sunday, those seeds we are planting with our students will one day generate a great harvest, or come Sunday, we’ll finally realize all of the Holy Spirit’s nudges & prods that brought the wayward believer back to the path, or come Sunday we’ll fully recognize that we were never really alone; that God didn’t leave us in that garden, but that He was alongside us all the time.

While we can get stuck in the here & now, we have to remember that God always takes the long view.  That Thursday Night was an essential phase of His plan of redemption that resulted in the Greatest Sunday the world has ever known.

Zohr, O.: For a non-swordsman, those are some pretty good points.  Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to settle a dispute about who gets a sales commission between my blacksmith who made the sword & my clerk who sold it.

DL: Sounds challenging.

Zohr, O.: Not really.  For disputes like this, I just rely on the boyhood adage, “Thou who smelt it, dealt it.”

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