Just imagine the confusion. Roman soldiers being led by a friend to Jesus. Sleepy disciples gathering in bewilderment. Emotions raw and on edge. Betrayal. The intent of the soldiers becoming evident. Swords drawn in angry reaction. Bloodshed. Utter chaos.
Then above the frantic noise of the mob these emphatic words were heard, “Put your swords away!”
The voice wasn’t the captain of the guards or some other Roman official. It came from an unlikely source all things considered. It was Jesus- the one around whom this chaos centered. It was he who interceded and calmed this potential out-of-control firestorm of hostility. Even as he faced humiliation and injustice he brought healing and perspective to the confusion on Calvary that night.
He explained why later. “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”- John 18:36
While everyone around him acted and reacted in expected and even predictable ways Jesus had a different focus. It was a focus from another place- a kingdom where swords are not needed and retaliation is never warranted and even enemies are loved.
Put your swords away! – These words echo down through generations. We can apply them to nations and governments and aggressive militant groups bent on violence and murder. They are easy targets.
But what about closer to home? Consider other swords that often cut so very deeply- the sword of anger or of bitterness or of lust or of envy or of hatred or of discord. Then there are the swords of greed, vengeance, pride, addiction, prejudice and rage. These swords are more commonly used around us to slash away at our dignity and humanity. The damage they do is every bit as painful as that of any literal sword. Many fall victim to these sharp edges.
In the midst of this still stands Jesus. He is still pointing the way to his kingdom where these swords have been eradicated. He is still reaching out to heal those torn asunder by these swords. He is still begging his servants to find that focus from another place.
Put your swords away! For the sake of our families, our churches and our future- isn’t it time we do this?