Monday, November 26, 2007

The Weapons of Our Warfare

What was Peter thinking? A detachment of soldiers, led by Judas, found Jesus and the disciples in the olive grove across the Kidron Valley, to arrest him. Peter, for reasons that escape me, had brought a sword to the prayer meeting, and swung it. Being a fisherman, not a soldier, the best he could do was lop off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. Jesus told him to put away the sword, healed the servant’s ear, and presented himself to the soldiers, to “drink the cup the Father has given me.”

It would be easy to judge Peter if we did not so often emulate him. He misunderstood the situation and reacted in the wrong way. All Peter did by his sword-swinging attempt to help Jesus was become an obstacle to God’s work.

Peter failed to realize that the arrest of Jesus was part of God’s sovereign plan of salvation. God was working through the tragedy, accomplishing his redemptive purpose. It just didn’t look that way to him. Peter was sure things had gone very wrong. Somebody had to do something about it. Peter took up his sword and went to work to make things right.

Because Peter forgot that God was still in control, he also forgot that human weapons and human ways do not accomplish the work of God. He swung his sword in full confidence that Jesus would applaud his courage and bless his efforts. But Jesus did not applaud Peter, he rebuked him. In Peter’s attempt to “do something for Jesus” he only made a bad situation worse, and caused pain for others.

Consider this: what if Peter succeeded? He would have stopped the Cross! His attempt to help could have doomed us all to eternal hell. God would never let that happen, but it makes you think. How often do we cause kingdom chaos in our efforts to help God? We pick up human weapons of power politics, persuasion, control, manipulation, gossip, and strife, thinking we can do good.

Peter assumed that Jesus was unarmed. But Jesus did have weapons. Jesus was fighting with the most powerful weapon in the world – God’s love. He was on his way to the cross to lay down his life for sinners. By obedience, by submission, by sacrificial love, Jesus did what Peter’s puny sword could not. Jesus, by laying down his life, conquered sin, and death, and hell. He redeemed lost humanity and stepped on Satan’s neck. He accomplished all of that without Peter’s sword.

God has made the weapons of Christ available to us. “The weapons of our warfare are spiritual,” said Paul. When we love our enemies, when we return good for evil, when we lay down our lives for the sake of others, we wield powerful weapons that God uses in mighty ways.

Peter, trying to do good, did evil, because he operated on his own judgment, by his own power, with his own weapons. Jesus was operating on the Father’s agenda, by the Father’s power, with the Father’s weapons. Peter messed up. Jesus saved the world.

Let us put down our worldly weapons and follow Jesus to the cross.


Todd Bacon said...

Good stuff brother. You say it so well, you leave no room for comment. Mess up.. spell something horribly wrong so I can correct you.

I'm reading a MacArthur book in a men's group I'm in about Leadership.

Found it interesting where Paul on his voyage destined for shipwreck in Malta mentions where God had told him that because of Paul none among them would lose their lives, although they would lose the ship.

Then a bit later in the account, Luke mentions where some of the sailors were attempting a getaway in the skiff, that Paul indicated to Julius, that unless these men remain on board, you will not be saved.

Interesting twist. None will be lost. If they leave, you ain't gonna' make it.

He unpacked that a bit about God's absolute sovereignty not excluding human responsibility. I'd never really noted that example before.

Matt said...

Does this mean we should not have gone to war in Iraq?

Dave Miller said...


Do I know you? I know so many Matts (one who stands to inherit 1/4 of my fortune one day).

I would distinguish the "weapons of our warfare" from the weapons of warfare given the a nation.

Christians should not war with the weapons of the world. But nations are nations. They are given, biblically, other weapons.

Paul talks about human governments "wielding a sword" to enforce justice.

I believe that nations are justified in doing war if the cause is just. I believe Christians are justified in fighting just wars if sent by their governments.

My purpose is to advance the kingdom of God. To do that, I must use the spiritual weapons of God. America's goal (should be) to advance justice and order. If the cause is just, they may use the weapons they have been given.

Was the Iraq war just? Tough question. I believe it is just to depose a tyrant who terrorizes his people. But there may have been other motives at work that make it more difficult to tell if the cause was just.