Monday

02 July 2012

"When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, 'Lord, should we strike with the sword?' Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, 'No more of this!' And he touched his ear and healed him." (vv. 49-51)



Background

Whilst praying in the garden Jesus is met by a group that is in many ways symbolic of all of the prejudice he has met in his ministry. It consists of the scribes who have sought to prove Jesus was breaking the laws of their Scripture, the guards from the temple who only allow 'the right sort of people' to enter and the high priest who seeks to protect his position and authority with the people.

In the face of this opposition, Jesus appears as a symbol of hope and light. His question (verses 52-53) as to why they have not arrested him in daylight underlines the fact that they are seeking to dispose of him under cover of darkness but his statement that "this is your hour" (v. 53) underlines Jesus' belief that these events are unfolding for a reason and that God is still ultimately in control. As he tells the disciples to put away their swords and quietly heals the ear of the injured man, Jesus demonstrates love and healing in the face of violence and confusion. And the contrast of his healing touch with the violent hands of those who arrest him powerfully prefigures the way in which he will shortly lay down his life.

In Peter's conversation by the fireside (verses 54-60) we see again a reminder of God's place in these events. As Peter warms himself at the fire he unwittingly provides some onlookers with enough light by which to recognise him and others with enough to see from his clothes that he is a Galilean like Jesus.

As the accusations mount up, Peter repeatedly denies knowing Jesus. Only when the cock crows (verse 60) does he remember Jesus prophesy that Peter would deny him (made at a time when Peter was promising to follow Jesus forever (verse 34)). It is this realisation and the ensuing guilt that moves him to tears (verse 62).

It is tempting to read this passage as a depressing account of Jesus' ability to predict Peter's failings. But (with the benefit of hindsight) this account of Peter reminds us that Jesus will shortly restore and forgive him in a way that Peter cannot yet imagine (John 21:15-19). It reminds us too that Jesus invited Peter to follow him even though he knew he would fail and in this realisation we can all find hope for our journeys of faith.



To Ponder

  • Where can you offer healing and reconciliation today?

  • How important is the forgiving nature of God for you? Why?

  • What misplaced guilt may be holding you back in your walk with God today?

 

Bible notes author: The Revd Jenny Wilkes

Image: © 2012 Photos.com, a division of Getty Images. All rights reserved. 

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