For His Sake
I had a very interesting discussion with a few of my friends the other night. I am not entirely sure how the conversation started but as things began to elevate in both volume and temperament, I began to pay a little more attention.
The guys I was with were talking about how they would react in a situation where a gunmen was threatening to kill their family in their presence. Two of the guys were in agreement that if they had a firearm in their possession they would not think twice about shooting the gunmen, eliminating the danger and protecting their family. The other guy involved in the conversation approached the situation from a different angle. The majority of his explanation was essentially centered around the old adage, "What would Jesus do?"
Throughout the majority of the conversation I remained silent trying to take in everything that was being said. From both sides I heard a lot of reasons that made sense to me, but as they presented their cases for the actions they would perform I began to really think about what I would do.
With the fallen state of this world one cannot help but think how we would react if such a situation were to occur. We see the news articles daily and pretending it could never happen to us is simply a misguided and naive optimism unable to face the reality of sin and the devil's desire to do harm to whomever he can. While I do not intend to dwell on such a morbid thought, it is important to understand this world and the danger it does present due to its brokenness. As I hope to one day have a family of my own, I have spent considerable time thinking about and praying for my future children and how I will lead them as their father and the wife I will vow to lay down my life for as Christ laid down His life for the church ( Ephesians 5:25 ).
Much like the two guys in favor of protecting their families by any means necessary, I understand their desire to see their loved ones safe, as it is a quality given to us by God. But when I really begin to think about how Christ would act in a situation like this, I do not have to search too far to find His answer. In Mark 14:32-50 we find Jesus right before the time of His betrayal praying in the Garden of Gethsemane with three of His disciples; Peter, James, and John.
At this moment in the Gospel narrative, Jesus understands full-well that He is about to be delivered to His death. We can see the sorrow in Christ as He prays:
"And he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death, Remain here and watch.' And going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'"
I believe this to be one of the most convicting passages in Scripture. The humanity of Christ is on display in this passage and it breaks my heart to read the words my Lord uttered out of pure anguish and torment. His heart is so heavy and fearful of what He would soon undertake that there was nothing He could do but cry out to the God He trusted with His very life.
The passage continues with the betrayal of Jesus by Judas in verses 43-50:
"And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, 'The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.' And when he came, he went up to him at once and said 'Rabbi!' and he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear..."
We see in the parallel passage of John 18:10 that it was Peter that cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Being "the rock" and a leader of sorts within the disciples, Peter did not want to see Jesus delivered from them to His crucifixion. This desire to see Jesus safe is evident when Peter tries to rebuke Jesus as He foretells of His eventual suffering and death. Peter did not understand why Christ had to be taken from them and in his genuine love and care of Jesus, he did what he believed to be right.
But when we look at Christ there is no striking out with the sword, there is not even a word of preservation for His life.We do not find any cries of injustice or begging for compassion from Jesus. Christ even heals the man that had just been attacked by Peter. Before being led away Jesus says "let the Scriptures be fulfilled" and is then dragged to what would soon be His death.
A lot can be taken from this passage of Scripture but I believe one of the most important lessons we can learn is in the actions of Christ. Jesus understood the ultimate purpose for His existence. He knew that His life was meant to be used as a propitiation for the sins of the world. He did not let His humanity and his human desire to live overpower the call that God had for His life. Christ knew that simply killing the men that came to harm Him was not the answer to His confrontation.
I believe that Christ displayed the ultimate act of leadership in laying down His life for the sins of humanity. As the Bible says the greatest form of love is laying down your life, in Christ becoming the sacrifice for mankind He provided the example for us to live by, a love for people to hear the truth and live, at the expense of our own lives.
It is my prayer that no one has to go through such a difficult and dangerous encounter, but I hope we are able to look at Christ as the example for our lives and take the time to think about how we would best share the love of Christ with people that wish to cause us harm. As Christians we must always strive to live for the advancement of the Gospel and the spreading of truth and light. When in the midst of unbelievable circumstances, Christ laid down His life for us, the very people that despised and hated him. We can live by His example of holiness, righteousness, and genuine love through any darkness that may come about it for the glory of His Kingdom and for His sake.