As Christians, we recognize the authority and power in Jesus’ words…
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; He puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him! For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:6-7)
“…they went and woke Him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And He awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even winds and water, and they obey Him?’” (Luke 8:24-25)
With all the authority of heaven, Jesus also spoke these words to His disciples:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John `5:12) …
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
And with that same authority, Jesus spoke to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane—
Confronted by an angry mob armed with swords and clubs, bent on murder, the disciples responded with fear and defensiveness: “‘Lord, shall we strike with the sword?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.” (Luke 22:49, 50)
Jesus responded, “‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him.” (v. 51)
I was gripped with the passion in Jesus’ words the other day when I read this account—amazing how we can be so familiar with various portions of scripture and in a moment of reading it again, the Holy Spirit brings them to life in dynamic, vibrant new ways!
I envision the hostile mob reactions toward anyone who supports an unborn child’s right to life, who believes the Bible’s definition of marriage and morality; and the animosity towards those who are not willing to compromise God’s perspective of truth and justice for the “wisdom” of this age. (“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:18-20)
Sadly, I recognize in many Christians the same fear and defensiveness characterized by the disciples when they drew their swords. Perhaps not in physical ways with actual swords or clubs; but rather, using words in reaction to hostile accusations and confrontations, to bludgeon with our words and our attitudes those who oppose us. …sometimes, with a subtle current of “thank God, I’m not like them” flowing stealthily beneath our thoughts. And perhaps, with an unconscious fervor that, “If I just shout louder and longer, then the opposition will be silenced”?
However, the enemy is not silenced by our shouts or arguments! And our enemies are not people; rather, “the rulers…the authorities…the cosmic powers over this present darkness…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Jesus’ response to the violent mob was to bring restoration—in a situation that pulsated with conflict and death, time seemed to momentarily stand still for one man as Jesus reached out and touched him. In that moment, there were just two people face to face, there was no clamor, no mob—there was just the touch of the Savior’s fingertips on this man’s ear. Could he raise his eyes and look into the eyes of God? I can only imagine what took place in his thoughts, how he was affected—and how he responded. Perhaps like Peter who, when he realized that he did the unthinkable by denying the Lord three times, he went out and wept bitterly?
All we know for certain is that Jesus brought healing to a man who was seeking His death.
Jesus taught us the way to face hostility and angry confrontations. It began in the Garden before the mob approached— “And He came out and went, as was His custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. And when He came to the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-40)
He knew what was coming and how to prepare for it; and He was calm while hell was rampaging!
The Holy Spirit instructs us through the apostle Paul to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (in contrast to our own persuasions and opinions). He goes on to say, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” [Perhaps considering whether we are more inclined to be ready with the gospel of peace or our own arguments and defenses?]. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation [taking every thought captive to obey Christ], and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:1, 14-18)
Previously, Jesus cautioned His disciples, “…then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:9-12)
And later the apostle, John, wrote: “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)
The animosity daily assailing Christians mustn’t surprise us!
…understanding that it is important for us to be strong in the Lord, while recognizing His authority and power on earth!