Tom: We’re continuing with the gospel. We’re currently in the Gospel of John. We’re at John:18:11. Dave, before I read this verse, I just wanted to remind you of last week. You said you were going to discuss some of these issues here about self-defense—Christians, whether they should bear arms, and so on.
Dave: Whoa, I did?
Tom: I don’t know if you did your homework over the week, but we’re ready. We’re anticipating this. Verse 11 says, “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.”
But let’s go back to Jesus telling Peter to put his sword away. First of all, he did a little damage with it. But….
Dave: He was not a very good swordsman, was he?
Tom: No, well he was used to fishing.
Dave: Yeah, right, he swung that sword to cut the guy’s head off and he managed to get an ear, which Jesus healed. Jesus put it back on.
Well it does seem a little confusing. In this gospel, you don’t read it, but in another gospel, Jesus said, “If you don’t have a sword, you better buy one.” And they said, “Well, Master, we have two swords.” He said, “That’s enough.” So we know they’ve been carrying a couple of swords all this time. We learn that. Now why would that be okay? I mean, what do you use a sword for? It sounds kind of violent. And yet Jesus seemed to condone it.
Of course, if you went back to the Old Testament, you’ve got plenty of violence back there. David knocked this Goliath down and cut off his head, and of course the fighting between the armies, and so forth.
Tom: But this is the New Testament, Dave.
Dave: This is the New Testament, but Jesus said, “You’d better get a sword.” Now why would you get a sword? Well, Solomon writes, “A righteous man falling down before the wicked is like a troubled stream.” It’s not right. Something isn’t right about it. I don’t find the promotion of nonviolence in the Scripture. To what extent?
Well let’s say, Tom, I’m sitting in my living room, and my wife is walking up the walk with armloads of groceries. You know, she’s got groceries in both arms and she’s jumped by a couple of guys. They mug her, beat her, rape her, kill her, and I just sit there and I don’t do anything. And you say, “What? You’re just sitting there watching that?
“Well I’m against violence. I wouldn’t violently interpose myself.”
“Well you sure let a lot of violence happen by not trying to stop it. You could have at least called the police.”
“Yeah, but they carry guns.”
Now Tom, that doesn’t make sense. Roman 13, Paul says that the authorities are commissioned by God. They are his ministers for righteousness, and Paul says they don’t carry the sword in vain.
So if we didn’t have policemen, this country would be even more violent that it is. It would just be a jungle. And everybody is out there trying to get the best of everyone else. So I believe the Bible does teach that we need to enforce the law and enforce justice and enforce order, law and order.
Okay, now that comes down to the question: Supposing I’m sitting in a room, and there’s a dozen people there, and some guy comes in with a machine gun and he’s about to blow everybody away. If I’m the fastest gun in the West, I think I ought to take care of him rather than let him take the lives of many others. Okay? I think a Jewish military police would be justified in shooting a suicide bomber before he could set his bomb off.
On the other hand, if he’s only going to kill me, should I take his life rather than letting him send me to heaven? That’s another question. But Tom, I’ll let you take over.
Tom: Well, I’m going to take over Dave, with another question for you.
Dave: Oh boy.
Tom: Matthew:26:52: You were talking about some of the gospels. There are four gospels and there are different perspectives on that. They are not in contradiction, but there are some issues that need to be reconciled.
Jesus in Matthew:26:52 said: “Put up again thy sword into his place, for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
Now what did Jesus mean by that, after encouraging them to have at least a modicum, or a few, swords?
Dave: Yes, Tom, I’m afraid we have to put a little interpretation in there, using all of Scripture. In other words, I can’t take just one scripture and build a mountain of truth on that. I have to compare scripture with scripture. And I think what Jesus is saying is you’re going to make your living by the sword, this is what you’re going to live by, you will eventually die by the sword. We’re supposed to trust Him. And I think this would be true of bandits in that day. There were people who they lived by the sword, and they were just violent people. They didn’t go by law. They didn’t have any rule except the sword. “Might makes right,” as the Nazis would say. And if you are stronger than the other guy, okay—Get him out. Take care of him, and take over.
But ultimately, you’re going to run up against somebody who’s a little better swordsman than you are or who’s got more troops on his side. Spartacus, remember? Who was a…
Dave: Gladiator who escaped, and they won a lot of battles, but eventually they lost. They lived by the sword. I rather think that’s what Jesus is talking about. In other words, it’s a different thing to have a sword because there are brigands, robbers, there are people who are going to try to do you in unless you can defend yourself. And if they see a little show of force, maybe they’ll back off. That’s one thing. It’s something else that you are forcing this on everyone and this is your livelihood, not just a protection in case. But this is the way you live, and I think that’s what He was talking about.
On the other hand, Tom, I think of how commendable it was—you read the Book of Ezra, and Ezra takes off with these people in a caravan, and you know, caravans—this is what the robbers were always looking for…
Tom: Right, it was their meal ticket. Here it comes.
Dave: That’s right. And here they are, and they’ve got gold and silver. They’ve got the treasures from the temple that have been given back to them by the king of Babylon, and they’re going to take it back. And you remember? I cannot stop marveling at the faith of Ezra! He said, “When we came to the river at Ahava, we got down on our knees and we prayed, and we besought God for his protection for ourselves, for our little ones, for I thought it shame to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us in the way. Because I had told the king what a great God we serve.” Wow, Tom! That I could have that kind of faith in my life! He was not going to look to the king for his help. So he’s not going to look to a sword. He’s trusting God.
Well, if the Lord gives you that kind of faith, that’s the way you should live. Other than that, well, maybe you ought to have a sword, just in case. I think that’s what Jesus was saying.
Tom: So Jesus here is being led away to Annas first. And he was the father in law of “Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”
Sounds like somebody said—I think I heard it on a review of the film that’s out, The Passion—that the Jewish leaders were trying to protect their institution, their organization, in fact.
Dave: Well, it’s exactly what the Bible says in John 11. We had that a few chapters back: “And they said, Don’t you realize it would be better for one man to die than the whole nation perish?” And it said, “This he spake, being the high priest.” He prophesied. He didn’t know what he was prophesying, but apparently God allowed him as the high priest to say something of prophetic significance, although he didn’t understand it. But the main thing they were concerned about is true. They said, “If we let this man alone, the Romans will come and take away our place—our position. They won’t need us any more because everybody’s following him and we’re going to lose our institution and we’ll lose our position.” That was their concern.