Use of Weapons

When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, only three of His disciples accompanied Him: Peter, James, and John. When an armed mob suddenly seized Jesus, the three disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” (Luke 22:49). One of the disciples apparently didn’t wait for an answer—and sliced off the right ear of the high priest’s servant (Matt. 26:50).

John identifies the sword-swinging disciple as Peter and the wounded servant as Malchus. Luke tells us that Jesus told His disciples, “Permit even this”—and immediately healed the sliced ear (an experience which surely made quite an impression). Matthew says that Jesus declared, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52).

The Old Testament is filled with tales of people wielding various weapons in battle, from swords to slingshots—and some unlikely ones, including trumpets (Josh. 6:20) and torches hid inside jars (Judg. 7:16). The people went into battle because God called them to establish an earthly kingdom. But Jesus told Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day prided themselves in following the letter of the law—“Don’t commit adultery”; “Rest on the Sabbath”; “Don’t kill”—but Jesus urged them to dig deeper into the principles behind the laws. Keep your heart from lust. The Sabbath is a day for good works. And when it came to taking human life, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matt. 5:21-22, NIV).

We are not called to fight for any earthly realm. Jesus calls us to grace—to receive His, and extend it to others. The use of force runs contrary to God’s character and grace. We are not called to fight with the world’s weapons, but to live and to witness through the power of the Holy Spirit. You can fracture a bone in a fraction of a second. Grace takes carefulness, patience, and time. It changes how we treat others, ensuring that we treat people as we would want them to treat us. The world’s weapons promise shortcuts to solving complex problems. The long, steady, intricate work of exercising grace builds relationships, touches hearts, and changes minds. Above all, it builds God’s eternal kingdom—a world not made of steel or stone, but of each person who responds to God’s love by revealing that love to others.

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