Mark 14:43-46

43Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?

 John 18:36

36Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

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There’s a song called “Hard To Be Like Jesus” by Rich Mullins that is all about, you guessed it, how hard it is to live like him!  All of that teaching about loving others sacrificially as he has loved us and loving your enemies and turning the other cheek goes so against our sinful nature!  Yet here we are in the garden of Gethsemane with hell breaking loose, taking Jesus captive, and with Peter, a Jesus follower to the core, pulling out his sword to respond the way the world has taught him to, with violence and bloodshed.  What does Jesus do?  What does Jesus teach us about his ways in these critical moments?

A look at this event in John 18, Mark 14, Luke 22, and Matthew 26 is very instructive for us.  Luke tells us that Jesus reached out and healed the servant of the High Priest’s ear that was cut off by Peter!  He heals those who are coming to arrest him and kill him unjustly!  Talk about loving your enemies!  Matthew tells us that Jesus said to his disciples, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels (26: 52-53)?”  He essentially says, “Don’t you realize that I have access to unstoppable power, the likes of which no human has ever seen or touched, yet I choose not to use it for violence?   And I certainly won’t use it to stop my offering of myself for your salvation!”

Then, as Jesus chats with Pilate before his sentencing, he says something that rings clear and true and instructive for us, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Jesus lives by different ways than we do here on this broken planet.  He lives by the values and order of God’s Kingdom.  All of his teaching and all of his actions have injected the Kingdom of God back into this broken world, injected the healing power of God into the sickness of the world!

What’s hard about this to us is that our world teaches us that our goal is to beat others so that we can not only survive but be the best, be the ones with the most power and control.  Others are our enemies, our competition.  So whether it is business or sports or politics or interpersonal relationships, many of our relationships are infected by an “us verses them” mentality.  Often this adversarial element to our relationships ends up in divorce, fights at children’s sporting events, bounty programs in professional sports, drug usage, maltreatment of whole nations of people at the hands of their domineering leaders, and many deaths through violence and war.

What Jesus teaches, shows, and invites us to is nothing less than the sacrificial ways of love.  He meant it when he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” and “Love your enemies…bless those who persecute you.” He showed us that, in God’s Kingdom, there will be an end to “us verses them,” to selfishness and greed, and to violence.  The Kingdom we are all headed to is one of peace based on justice, love expressed in service, the same Kingdom Jesus died and rose to give us entrance to.  The hard part for us is to live in that Kingdom in our daily relationships now!

God, give us the grace to live and love with the same intensity that you do and to not back down from love in the face of the world’s pressure upon us to survive and win…in Jesus’ name…Amen!