Summary: The Christian does not win in the war with evil by making the enemy suffer. He wins by suffering for the sake of the enemy. This is the new message of the cross.
William H. Taft, the 27th President of the United States, was a
big man in more ways than one. When he was inaugurated in 1909
at age 51 he weighed 325 pounds. His goal was not to become
President, however, but to be the chief justice of the Supreme
Court. In 1921 he achieved his goal and became the only man in the
history of our nation to hold the countries 2 most powerful offices.
Peter was like Taft in being the big man among the Apostles. He
was physically a big fisherman, but he was also the only man
selected to be the head of the 12, and the only man to be considered
the first head of the church.
The Catholic Church considers Peter to be the first Pope. Peter
also had the reputation of being the biggest human power on earth
with the keys to the kingdom. All of the stories about coming to the
golden gate of heaven involved dealing with Peter, and so he was
like Taft in the Christian realm. He was the only man in Christian
history to ever hold the 2 highest offices. He was the President of
the 12 and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Christian
faith. He could bind up or set loose and so determine who would or
would not be in heaven.
Peter was a big man, but as we have seen in previous studies, he
made more mistakes than all the rest of the Apostles put together.
A big man can make big mistakes and make himself look small, and
Peter was a pro at it. His most violent mistake is the one is the one
we want to focus on. It happened in the account of the arrest of
Jesus. In Peter's impulsive act of drawing his sword and cutting off
the ear of the servant of the high priest, he taught a multitude of
lessons about the Christian and violence. We can only look at some
No situation is necessarily like another situation. Peter could
have said that Gideon with just a handful of men defeated a large
army, and so even though we have only two swords among us, by
God's power we can defeat this army of enemies who come to take
our Lord unjustly. It is a biblical truth that God can lead the
minority to victory over the more powerful majority. It runs all
through the Old Testament. This is the setting we have here in the
arrest of Jesus. We need to get the picture to see the high side Peter
was taking in coming to the defense of his Master. Peter was being
as bold and courageous as he ever was in his life, but it was zeal
without knowledge. The fact is, he was demonstrating his
willingness to die for Jesus. All 4 Gospels reveal this scene, and
Mark and Luke both used the word multitude. There was a vast
crowd of people who came to arrest Jesus. John tells us of the band
of soldiers and officers of the chief priests and Pharisees, but the
other Gospels tell of a multitude of people with swords and staves.
Matthew even calls it a great multitude.
Get the idea out of your head that the arrest of Jesus was by a
hand full of Roman guards, and that it was like a police officer
picking up a disturber of peace. This was a crusade, and the troops
were lined up to march as to war. We are talking hundreds of
people ready to engage in fierce battle to subdue and take Jesus into
custody. The enemies of Jesus expected and all out conflict with
heavy casualties, and so they came with an army. Peter had
delusions of grandeur to think he could fight this army. It is a
wonder he was not cut to ribbons. Jesus did a quick miracle to
restore the one victim of Peter's violence. Otherwise Peter would
have been killed on the spot.
The point here is that you cannot just transfer truth to any
situation and try to apply it where it does not fit. Every piece of a
puzzle fits somewhere, but it does not fit everywhere. You can't
take a biblical truth or principle and just squeeze it in anywhere
you like. It is true that one man with God is a majority, and that
God can use one man, like Samson, to win a battle over a thousand
Philistines. Does this mean a Christian can in every situation take
on a thousand enemies and be assured of victory? Not at all. A
Christian can take on foe, and if he uses violence out of God's will,
he will be a loser even if he draws first blood as did Peter in this