Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meekness in The Garden

What is your first instinctive reaction when surrounded by trouble? Fight or flight? There are days this girl would stand and fight with everything I have in me. There too are days when all I want to do is run for safety. Run anywhere but to face the trouble surrounding me. How about you? 

There's all kinds of trouble that surrounds us. Take your pick of adversity, danger, or trial. The enemy is real. He's hard at work to keep us surrounded by fear, anger, and deep bitterness. It's hard for me to imagine that some don't believe in Satan, while others think heaven is some fictitious place where everyone goes after our life here has ended. When trouble comes, if we are believers, we call out for Jesus. I'm not so sure the world is much different. I think in our time of fear, whether we are believers or not, we want to believe there is more than just what this world offers up for help. 

Take a stroll with me through the garden. Jesus is there with His disciples. He had just prayed for Himself, for His disciples, and for believers. Picture this scene of brotherhood. Jesus had been teaching. His disciples soaking up every word. Questioning Him and making sense of what was to come. Here they have come together. But danger is approaching. They can hear the soldiers coming before they ever see them approach. Judas is walking up. All eyes are on him as he nears Jesus and kisses His cheek. A warm welcoming for most, but here it was a give a way worth thirty pieces of silver. 

"Then one of the Twelve-the man called Judas Iscariot-went to the chief priest and said, "What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?" So they weighed out 30 pieces of silver for him. and from that time he started looking for a time to betray Him." Matthew 26:14-16

The soldiers continue to come with sword and are ready to attack. Why so many? A legion just for this man who some call Jesus? Was this one man such a threat? What had them so fearful and so ready for war? A legion is an army of six thousand. A legion came this day. They were not alone. Usually with one legion there are roughly the same number of men who are auxiliary troops to support a legion. Now, take in that scene as you have never seen it before. Surrounded by the enemy seems almost mute doesn't it? What did they expect Jesus to do? It was the unexpected that caught them off guard. 

"Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear. (The slaves name was Malchus.) At that, Jesus said to Peter, "Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink he cup the Father has give Me?" John 18:10-12

"But Jesus responded, "No more of this!" And touching his ear, He healed him." Luke 22:51

Peter takes out his sword and off comes the ear of the servant Malchus. War could have easily erupted. All the other disciples could have jumped forward and caused swords to clank and blood to pour. But Jesus stops them. He speaks to Peter and tells him to put away his sword. Not here. Not this way. But Jesus goes beyond the expected. He doesn't lash out in anger or take a sword Himself. He restores Malchus. Amazing grace! Jesus reaches out and touches this servant. It didn't matter that he was the enemy. That he had sword in hand ready to attack Jesus. He stops and reaches out in love. That is extraordinary grace. That is power under control. Jesus showed the strength that comes from meekness. So many think meekness is a sign of weakness. Not at all. Strength beyond measure, controlled and executed with a grace that changes everything. 

"But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Psalm 37:11

These soldiers fall to their knees. Take this in as much as possible. Picture the scene of these thousands of soldiers all falling at the moment Jesus becomes real to them. He isn't fictitious any longer. In this one moment of extended grace and restoration Jesus shows the power through a extraordinary love that abounds far greater than what we are capable of comprehending. 

"When He told them, "I am He," they stepped back and fell to the ground." John 18:6

"He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow-of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth-and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:8-11

Jesus tells them He could easily call upon His Father and call down a legion of twelve thousand angels. He has nothing to fear of man. This world has nothing on the power of His Father. But wait. Twelve legions of angels? That would be equivalent to 144,000 angels! Power under control! 

"Then Jesus told him, "Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?" Matthew 26:52-54

What about Malchus? We hear no more of him. Did he believe? Did he leave here knowing that Jesus did more than restore his ear, but in addition bring change to his heart? This was not just the scene of a protest of chanting, angry men. This was a hillside overrun with metal and warriors ready for battle. I believe these men seen far more than what they expected. Maybe they expected Jesus to run or cause them great harm. The opposite happened right before their eyes. The lies they had been told about this man, this Savior, was not truth at all. He wasn't out to get them. He was out to save them, to restore them, starting with Malchus. 

Live by the sword, die by the sword. What type of sword are you carrying today? We have a whole collection of swords we bring out for different occasions. Swords are heavy. Aren't you ready to lay your's down? I know I am. As a people we are ready to fight and not just fight, but seek revenge for the hurt and anger caused. Retribution is alive in the hearts of man. Jesus calls us to live another way. He calls us to live by faith. To act justly. To love faithfully. To walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)

The unjust behavior of others didn't change who Jesus is. It only made His majesty stand out all the more. Our anger can cause great harm to not just others, but to ourselves. In our anger we lash out and cause more scars. Don't we carry enough? Jesus is saying, enough is enough. Not here. Not now. We are to live by His example. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 (That part about no law means that there is no need for prohibitive law when people's lives exhibit love and self control).

Scars remind us where we've been. They don't have to dictate where we're going. Swords leave scars. I have quite a few and I know that others too bear the scars of my sword swinging. It's time we put down our swords and extend the beautifully given grace that our Lord so lovingly gives to us.

We too are like Malchus. He received unexpected grace. Jesus restores us! In the midst of us being surrounded by the sword of others, Jesus shows us what to do. Lay down our sword and give grace where it isn't expected. Share love where it never has never blossomed fully. Live a different way, the unexpected and extraordinary, so that the world can see the glory of God shine through man and be magnified as we touch the lives others. 


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