And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Matthew 26:51-54)
He Came To Bring Peace
It is unclear why the Lord allowed any of the disciples to bring a sword to the garden but Peter had one of the two swords among the eleven. Letting a man accustomed to fishing wield a sword would seem to be a disastrous thing to do and proved to be an act of folly. The gospel writer Luke mentions in passing the disciples desire to bring two swords and Jesus’ reply seems to be almost without notice for the good the swords would prove against what is about to happen. Whatever the response by Jesus, Peter has a sword and decides to use it. The crowd that came to arrest Jesus was very large which included a Roman company of soldiers, Levitical temple guards, members of the Sanhedrin council, Pharisees and spectators. Having two swords among eleven men would have been laughable at best. As Judas betrays the Lord with a kiss and He is put in chains by the mob, Peter strikes out at anyone he can find which happens to be the unfortunate servant of the high priest, Malchus. Whether by design or clumsiness Peter only is able to slice the ear off the poor man. In an incredible moment and act of grace Jesus heals the man’s ear with no one taking notice of the miracle as they lead him away to kill him. Jesus rebukes Peter for his rash act telling him those who live by the sword will die by the sword. A sword is an instrument of violence whether in offense or defense. It is designed to maim or kill. The man who possesses the sword will have to defend himself by the sword. This was not the purpose of Jesus. He did not come to earth to start a literal war against other men but to bring all men to the Father through peace. The disciples had yet to learn that Jesus had the power to call down all the power of heaven to do His bidding if He so desired. The Lord was bringing a message of peace – not fighting.
The power that was within the grasp of Jesus was incredible. To call twelve legions of angels would have beckoned the might of 72,000 angels. A legion was a division of the Roman army amounting to more than 6,000 men. Using the story in the Old Testament where one angel destroyed 185,000 men in one night; twelve legions of angels could easily have wiped out more than 13 billion people or twice the population of the earth: in one stroke of God’s wrath. Jesus did not come to bring war between men but to bring the conflict of righteousness and wickedness to the hearts of men to show them the peace that passes all understanding. Peter acted rashly but his impetuous action proved a point that Jesus willingly gave His life to die on a cross so that all could find the peace of God. His love for the world stretched from horizon to horizon to express eternal mercy to undeserving man. Peace was the message of the King who came to change the hearts of the downtrodden and dispossessed to know the grace of a loving Father. God so loved the world He gave His Son and His Son so loved His Father He gave His life for those who were leading Him away chained and bound and destined for a cross.
Jesus declared His life was fulfilling the word of God. Peter tried to act in a courageous manner but the apostle did not understand the value of prophetic word fulfilled in the man he was trying to protect. Earlier when the disciples found the two swords and told Jesus He passed it off as making no difference to what was about to happen. His death on the cross was promised since the Garden of Eden and fulfilled throughout every generation proceeding the moment of the Garden of Gethsemane and nothing man could do would change that. Peter acted in a rash manner. Jesus knew He must fulfill the word of His Father and bear the cup of anguish. God would bring peace to the hearts of all men through the sacrificial death of His Son. The faith of God’s people would not come from the tip of a sword. No one would be pressured into accepting the free gift of God nor forced to believe what their heart rejected. The gospel of Jesus Christ will only save those who willingly allowed the love of God to move their hearts to obedience. Peace would come from the hand of the Father bestowed in the blood of Jesus to those who would lay down their swords and accept the Kingship of Jesus Christ. Obedient hearts find peace in the message of hope in the redemption of God’s Son. Jesus came to bring peace and became the Prince of peace.