One Sunday we come to church and wave palm branches. Jesus is entering Jerusalem triumphantly! The next Sunday we come to church and we see Easter lilies. Jesus is risen! But what happens between those two celebrations?
I wish we didn’t have to live from one Sunday to the next because what happens between those two occurrences is awful to recount. He’s beaten, mocked, nailed to a piece of wood and killed in a painfully slow manner. What’s to celebrate?
Yet if Jesus did not endure these things, which we collectively call the Passion, then he wouldn’t be….Jesus! We can’t have Jesus without the Cross. We can’t have Christmas, Palm Sunday or Easter without the Cross. We cannot be Christians without the Cross.
The disciples said “See, Lord, here are two swords.” That is enough,” he replied.
Luke 22:38 (NIV)
We find Jesus with his disciples. They are on alert because they are afraid that Jesus will be arrested soon. Many travelers in that region carried swords to protect themselves from bandits. So that makes sense to carry them for security. But it also seems that he gives them permission to defend him with swords if they are attacked. Does he?
Are two swords enough to stop the Roman military if they want to take Jesus by force? Does Jesus mean, “That’s enough to get the job done”? Or does he mean, “That’s enough, I’m tired of folks using violence to get their way”? Maybe he’s being sarcastic: “Hey Jesus, we’ve got two swords!” “Oh yeah, THAT will be enough to stop a legion!”
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
Matthew 26:52 (NIV)
One of Jesus disciple’s draws his sword and cuts off the ear of one of the soldiers sent to arrest Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just say that this wasn’t the way to act. He then heals the ear of the soldier. I wonder if this same soldier later tortured, mocked and crucified Jesus? Does it make you mad to think that Jesus may have healed someone who then turned right back around and tortured and killed him later?
I found this as a way to explain why all this happened this way:
“God has no need of our services, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes. Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was a voluntary weakness; he submitted to death. If he had not been willing to suffer, they could not conquer him.” – Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
I want Jesus to call on angels to protect him. I want the disciples to become generals and lead the people as an army against the Romans. I want the motion picture epic story line with a rousing speech on the battle line and a musical score by John Williams! I love Jesus so much I want to pick up my sword to defend him!
But Jesus asks me to put down my sword. He’s got this one. He asks me to trust him.
The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is Holy Week. Jesus is going to triumph, we’ve already flipped to the last page of the story and read the ending. But let’s take this week to reflect on just what it cost Him to bring us Easter.