Peter and His Sword

Have you guys ever wondered why Jesus told the disciples to buy a sword in Luke 22:35-38, and when Peter used it, he got a rebuked?

From a historical contextual perspective, it was to fulfill a prophecy. But I also like to look at things in the scripture from a psychological perspective. Especially, if we want to grab a hold of a spiritual principle that will help us steward the kingdom in our context and culture today.

Here are a few of my questions and observations:

What if the purpose of the sword was to reveal the disciple’s level of maturity? When pushed comes to shove, will they trust the Father as their source of protection and deny the sword as their source of protection against their perceived enemy?

When fear confronted Peter, survival instinct kicked in and the closest thing to protect himself was his sword.

It’s the same fear that gripped the disciples when they woke Jesus in the middle of a storm on a boat.

Fear is a natural, human emotion. Yet somehow this was the thing that Jesus kept confronting and rebuking the disciples for. To Jesus, living in fear is the antithesis of the Kingdom.

Jesus spent so much time cultivating faith and reframing their fear, worry, and need because for us to truly live in the abundant life He gives is to yield and trust this unshakeable kingdom He came to establish with the Father.

Jesus didn’t need to protect Himself because a far greater Kingdom was behind Him and at work within Him. That’s why He can stand before Pilate and say, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

When Peter used his sword to cut off a Roman guard’s ear, Jesus heals the ear and says, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”

For Jesus, the security He felt was greater than the oppression He was experiencing. The safety He experienced from His Father far outweighed His need to self-protect. He gave the disciples the right to use a sword, only to show them they actually didn’t need the sword. It was at their disposal, yet made a clear point that those who use the sword will die by the sword. That to operate in our own survival tendency is to participate to the perpetual increase of fear we are already experiencing. Thus the call to live higher, the invitation to walk above the waters of our fears.

I feel the Lord is revealing our own level of maturity and our over reliance to our own survival mechanisms, inviting us to trust a whole different Kingdom. If, we, as a community of believers, are called to be a dwelling place of God, what does it look like for each of us to be built up in love as Paul instructed the church in Ephesians?

For us today, we have to ask ourselves, what are the weapons closest thing to us that we keep grabbing to self-protect? What swords are we using to unconsciously inflict pain and cut the ears of our brothers and sisters, perpetuating fear?

What does it look like to fully trust God as our source of protection and feel the safety and security from a much superior Kingdom behind us causing us to lay down our weapons against one another?

What does it look like to be so rooted and grounded in love that Christ is actually able to dwell within us?

What would it look like to feel such safety and security in the Father’s love that rather than reacting to fear, we respond with a self-giving love even towards our perceived enemy?

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  1. Thanks for these thoughts Christian – I have always been drawn to the events of Peter’s defense of Jesus.

    I wonder if Peter was experiencing fear – and perhaps more? I have always thought of the sword not as a test or object lesson from Jesus but as a confirmation of Peter’s equipping to fight and kill the plans and ways of the enemy – but he missed that the story of Jesus crucifixion was not for him to stop.

    Jesus said prophesy needed to be fulfilled, but I also see the equipping as preparation and confirmation of their own purpose and identity as disciples who can and will wage war against the enemy.

    Jesus knew he would not be with them much longer – and that they would have be sent out on their own with the Holy Spirit. Reminding them that they needed sword, money, travel bag because they would be the shepherds now.

    All that to say – there is something very powerful in laying aside the sword – but if you don’t have a sword to lay aside it’s very difficult to understand or even comprehend

  2. I wonder too if part of the prophesy with the sword was because they were expecting the Messiah to be a conquering King who is ready to overthrow the Roman Empire. The disciples were expecting an insurrection but instead he said it’s not about the sword. It’s to fulfill a prophesy but then flipping what I really means. Cause then why would he only tell them to grab two swords? I also wonder, if Peter had one sword, who had the other one.

    And I thought mostly fear because Peter would also be the one to deny Jesus for fear of his life as the night progresses.

    But I think you’re right. Ultimately, the enemy isn’t flesh and blood (as Paul would say later on) and to lay the sword when you have it is in someway mimics the way of the cross. (When someone strikes you, turn the other cheek).