The Way of the Kingdom
I have always been astonished by the magnitude of Jesus' last miracle prior to His atoning death on the cross. As His attackers came to take Him by force, Simon Peter stood ready to defend His Master. With sword drawn, he struck the ear of Malcus, the servant of the High Priest. F.W. Krummacher notes the sense in which most professing believers would respond had they been there to witness this seemingly courageous act. He wrote,
"'Well done, Simon!' we are ready to exclaim, 'only proceed as you have begun. These sons of Belial deserve bleeding heads! If you, who are his intimate associates, could have coldly witnessed this abominable crime against your Master, we should never be able to believe in your love to him."
However, nothing could be further from the reality of that which was animating Peter. Far from a courageous act of love to Christ, Peter was acting with self-interest. Krummacher again explained,
"That which appears to us as such an amiable trait in Peter, is only a confused mixture of self-love, arrogance, and folly; while the fire of our natural enthusiasm for Simon's act, proceeds likewise only from short-sightedness and blindness.
It is undeniable that an ardent and sincere affection had its essential part in this act of Peter's; but certainly, it was not love alone which nerved his arm on this occasion; at least he was equally as anxious to save his own honor as the person of his Master; while the publicity of the affair was assuredly no mean stimulus to his bravery."
There is, in this, a word for us who are so eager to defend the honor of Christ in a culture that maliciously rejects our Lord and Savior. Like Peter, our actions are so often mixed with love to Christ and a desire to defend our personal honor and supposed rights. This frequently leads us to act in a way that is contrary to the Kingdom, power, and love of Christ. Our Lord came to seek and to save the lost. When James and John asked if they should call fire down on those cities who had rejected the preaching of the gospel, Christ lovingly rebuked them with the words, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them" (Luke 9:55–56). In the same way, Jesus corrected Peter's misconceptions about the way of the Kingdom of God. Focusing on how the disciples must have responded to seeing Jesus' last miracle––Krummacher observed,
"How they are astonished on seeing the Lord kindly inclining to Malchus, and touching his wounded ear with his healing hand, when the blood instantaneously ceases to flow, and the ear is restored uninjured to its place! We are also astonished at this miracle—the last and not the smallest, by which the Savior manifested himself on earth, as the God- man. And we admire in it, not merely his power, which shines forth so gloriously, but likewise his love, which did not exclude even his enemies from its beneficial operation, as well as his care of his disciples, whom, by the healing of Malchus, he secured from the sanguinary revenge of the murderous troop. Nor must we overlook the wise forethought with which the Lord, by this charitable act, defends his kingdom for the future from all misunderstanding as to its real nature. It is not a kingdom of this world, but one in which revenge is silent, meekness heaps coals of fire on the adversary's head, and where evil is recompensed with good."
We should stand amazed that our Lord, in His moment of greatest affliction––and as the object of the greatest injustice in the history of the world––would stretch out His hand to His enemies in love. This last miracle of love is rivaled in greatness only by our Lord praying on the cross––as the soldiers nailed Him to the tree–"Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." There is a world of love in that touch that should drive us to "go and do likewise." The One who said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:45) exhibited in deed what He taught in word. No one loved His enemies like Jesus.
This is turn ought to cause us to reflect on the way in which He has loved us-–who are His enemies by nature. He gave Himself up for us on the cross. He took the wrath that we deserve. There is a miracle that superabounds all of the other miracles of Jesus–including HIs last miracle of love on the way the the cross. It is the miracle of the cross for the redemption of the souls of His people. We who were His enemies, have had our hearts healed by the loving touch of the bleeding hands of Jesus. May we stand astonished at a sight of the loving hands of the Savior––nail to the tree to be lifted up with healing grace as when He ascended to the right hand of His Father (Luke 24:50). This is our Savior. This is love. This is the way of the Kingdom of God.