September 30

Text: Matthew 26:51

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.  (NASB)

“Doing what comes naturally.”  Observations: (1) That does not mean doing what is right.  (2) It means acting reflexively.  Rarely are “doing what is natural” and “doing what is right” the same thing.  “Doing what comes naturally” typically is an emotional response that is based on what seems good to the person at the moment.  That is why doing right is usually a reflective response rather than a reaction.

“Doing what is right” is far more complex than a mere emotional response.  Volumes could be and have been written on how to determine right responses.  “Doing what is right” is determined by “doing what is good.”  To illustrate the complexity of the decisions that determine right and good, just ask some questions.  Who determines right and good?  Why?  What moral/ethical system defines right/good?  Why?  Is everyone responsible to do right/good?  Why?  What should be done when some people are not dedicated to doing right/good?  Why?

Use this situation as an example.  Loving one’s enemies is right and good according to Jesus’ teachings (see Matthew 5:43-48).  How does one show his love for Jesus in this situation? How does one appropriately show love for enemies and love for Jesus at the same time?  Does love for Jesus require a willingness to defend Jesus with a weapon?

John 18:10 identifies the person wielding the sword as Peter.  His defense was pitiful.  Though he may have been skilled in fishing, he was a poor swordsman.  With his thrusts of the sword, he managed only to cut off the ear of a slave.  All that could be said of his efforts was that he tried.

Though his act was ineffective, it was a courageous act that literally stared death eye to eye.  Though he achieved nothing, there can be no doubt that he was willing to die—with a sword in his hand.

Is it not strange that in this situation death with a weapon in your hand is courageous, but death with an empty hand is a disgusting waste?

In your faith in Jesus, do you react or are you reflective?

Suggestion for reflection: Define spiritual courage.  (Read Romans 12:17-21.)

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