Passover is done, and Jesus has gone off with eleven of His disciples to pray in the garden of Gethsemane to prepare for His final hours. Then there is the moment when Judas shows up “with a great multitude with swords and clubs” (Matthew 26:47) and temple guards to arrest Him. The soldiers surge in, pushing the disciples back. The air is charged. “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” (Matthew 26:51).
Who was it? Peter (John 18:10). Quick to react, impulsive Peter … ready to defend his Rabbi who is being arrested. But Jesus does not ask to be defended. Jesus has made peace with what is coming, knowing He is within the perfect will of His Father. So He asks His disciples to have peace too – “Put your sword into the sheath” (John 18:11).
There is a similar scenario in the movie “God’s Not Dead 3: Light in the Darkness”. Pastor Dave picks up the sword of “justice” to defend his long-standing church against the school that wants to tear it down after a horrible fire. He spends the movie wielding his sword in every direction, demanding to be declared right in the battle of church versus school. And in the end, he realizes that Jesus was right in Matthew 26:52 – “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword”. God has not called him to wage war, because war is affecting his influence and God’s goodness. God is asking him to drop his sword – to give up his right to be right and feel right. God is asking him to step back and choose love. To show the students and the community what a true believer looks like.
And God is asking the same thing from us, just as He asked of Peter and Pastor Dave. “Put your sword in its place”. Drop your sword. Stop holding onto your anger. Stop demanded vengeance. Stop holding onto bitterness. Stop wallowing in jealousy. Stop drowning in shame.
God is asking us to open those fingers clasped overly tight around the sword in our hands (and hearts). To lay down our need to be right or be vindicated. To let go and drop the sword.
Because it is only in letting go of our sword that we find the peace we are ultimately seeking.
Pastor Dave was never going to find peace or win the ultimate battle of touching lives and sharing the light of Jesus by suing the school. Peter was never going to accomplish anything but getting himself into trouble and possibly dying before his purposed time by being so reckless in the moment.
All our sword does is keep us down and hold us back. It will never lift us up. It doesn’t make us right. It doesn’t give us hope. It doesn’t bring us peace.
In fact, our sword is one of the things standing between us and peace. The peace he promises us (John 14:27, Philippians 4:7) that surpasses human comprehension and possibility. But we invade that peace when we insist on holding onto our swords.
So today’s the day to drop the sword. Whatever you’re holding, whatever you’re carrying around, and whatever seems so important that you can’t let go. It’s time to lay it down.
Because the cross is the ultimate sword. It will overcome every battle we have fought, we are fighting, and we have yet to fight. It will defeat whatever is coming against us. And it is always for us.
So today, will you trust God enough to drop your sword?
Marie Fremin. 4/12/18, 4/15/18, 4/29/18.