The Offensive Defense: Peter, Malchus, the Preacher, and Christ…

September 30, 2011

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)  So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”’ -John 18:10-11

We are called to preach in an era of irrational relativism and religious apathy.  The enemies of the church, be  they secularists, muslims, atheists or liberals, are increasingly hostile to the gospel and its followers.  Whether we like it or not, as Christians, we are constantly confronted with the cohorts of culture that seek to take captive our freedoms and hinder our mission.  The world is ambivalent to God, hostile toward His Son, and antagonistic to His message.  In light of these facts what is to be the Christian response?

John 18 is a prime picture of the fallen creation.  Man, once created in a garden, bathed in light, walking in harmony with God; now lies in darkness, beset by weakness, hostility, and evil.  Gone is the cool of the day in which God walked among His good creation; in Gethsemane, day is exchanged for night and the Maker of the Garden is persecuted rather than pursued.

Peter is ready for the darkness.  He is armed and wakeful and when the enemies of God arrive, his desire is to not be counted among them.  Ignorant of who he really serves, he draws his weapon and strikes the ear of his opponent, blood is shed and likely Peter felt courageous defending Christ in the flesh.  One man between the forces of evil and the Messiah. Yet, we know according to Luke’s testimony that at this point Jesus interrupts the fray, “But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.” (Luke 47:51)  Jesus healed whereas His follower hurt.

Much can and has been said about this episode in Jesus’ life, most likely nothing new can be added.  However, it presents a unique challenge to the modern Christian.  As preachers, we are called to engage the world.  A world shrouded in darkness, in hostile pursuit of our Lord, and we are armed with the sword of the Word.  But what is our mission?  What is our role in God’s battle plan?  These might seem like simple questions, even superfluous ones, but often we lose sight of our place and strike the wrong target.

Jesus was always focused on His mission.  Throughout the gospels He is sovereign over time and the course that His life must take.  Even with His first miracle, when prompted by His mother to provide for a wedding, His response was, “My time has not yet come.”  He silenced demons, because “His time had not yet come.”  he removed Himself from murderous mobs because, “His time had not yet come.”  But here in this scene, in the garden, His time had come.  He was committed to the mission given to Him by the Father.  He saw passed the torches, the guards, and the opportunity for a quick remedy.  Jesus was focused on the heart:  His heart, that had to be pierced and their hearts that had to be healed.  Beyond the situation, lay the reality of what must be done.

The Word is power.  By God’s Word the universe came into being; men were created from dust and de-created with flood; seas parted, rivers stood on end, walls fell, nations rose and were scattered; it is sharper than the two-edged sword wielded by Peter that night in the garden.  For those who acquire some familiarity with it, and have been impacted by its life-altering message, it can become easy to misuse the text for personal purposes.  We march to God’s defense with the tools we’ve been given, blissfully unaware of our own agenda, drunk with the derivative authority of the Word of God.  Frequently when faced with the enemies of God we mis-judge our mission, we draw our weapon and aim for the ears rather than the heart.

We are often blinded by the situation.  When faced with unbelievers and those hostile to our cause we stumble at a response.  Should we rise to His defense and draw blood? Or should we sit idly by why they carry our Lord away?

When we face the enemies of God we would be best served to remember that Jesus commanded that we take up the cross rather than the sword, that we are to serve others if we are to follow Him.  When the world attacks Christ and His church, we must not respond in kind, Jesus did not call us to be His defenders, he called us to be His disciples.  To serve rather than to save.

Our time is coming, indeed it has come, and we must see passed the torches, passed the rhetoric and see the frightened soldiers, scared and confused, who unwittingly serve the darkness that Christ has overcome.  Brothers and Sisters let us pick our battles and use our weapons wisely, for the sword may sever quickly but  Word has the power to save.

Col 4:5-6 “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

One comment

  1. Reblogged this on The Implanted Word and commented:

    The Offensive Defense: Peter, Malchus, the Preacher and Christ…

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