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what he should have done (2)

Jesus said (AD 30) “Rise, let us be going; look and see, my betrayer is at hand.” While he was still speaking, look and see, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, you are here for this.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And look and see, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. Matthew 26: 46-56
Are you like me? Listening to others, I sometimes find myself disagreeing with them? When that happens, my thoughts shift immediately into my contrary response? And then I realize that I’ve not been listening to them at all. 

Come with me today then to listen to and properly consider something Jesus said the night before he died. He was arrested by the crowd put together by the religious, political and judicial Jerusalem authorities. The crowd was heavily armed: swords and knives, truncheons and cudgels. Their many hands are laid on Jesus. One hand only reaches out, pulls out a sword, and, striking the slave of the Jerusalem high priest, takes away his ear.

Did you notice that this was a slave of the high priest? He had been conscripted to be there. Did you notice also that it was his ear which was amputated? Was it justice that this man suffer for what he must do?

‘If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice, forgive him lest there be two bad men.’ (Augustine of Hippo, 350-430)
Jesus says this to his sword-wielding follower, “Turn away your sword; it’s out of place; all who use the sword will - by the sword - be destroyed.” 

Do you agree with that? If you do, what are you not doing because “all who use the sword will - by the sword - be destroyed.” Let’s substitute some other things for the sword. Will those who live by alcohol be destroyed by alcohol. And those who live by oppression, will they be destroyed by oppression? President Assad of Syria? Those who live by wealth? Will wealth destroy them? Sir Philip Green? What will destroy you? Is it what you love?

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus didn’t leave the crowd in Gethsemane with the thought that he himself had no sword to wield. “Do you imagine,” Jesus said, “that I don’t have authority to call on my father and that he wouldn’t immediately bring to me more than twelve legions of angels? but how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, that this must take place?”

Why not use his “sword”? And what is the “this” which the Scriptures – the National Archives of Israel - stated “must” take place? Those Scriptures, now the Old Testament in Christian Bibles, recorded the future Messiah’s execution and death – for others.  In AD 30 this Gethsemane man submitted to the sword of justice – to being destroyed for being the worst of sinners.

‘Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.’ (Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, 1743-1826)
He submitted to the Judas who gave him away with a hug. He submitted to the crowd with their swords and knives, truncheons and cudgels. He submitted to the Jerusalem establishment. He was refusing, quietly and gently refusing, to do anything for his own self. His was the best contrary response, the considered, terribly, terribly tough submission to the just deserts of sin not his own. 

If he had lived by the “sword” or by “thousands of angels”, what good would that have done? For others? For him to live was not to live by the sword but to live by dying – dying the death (the “sword” and the "angels"?) deserved by others.

Magnificent, isn’t it? Will you do the same? To do that is not to have your and also not to eat it. Have you ever wondered if you could get somebody to do that – for you?

Sinner Syvret

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