I was reading the part of the Easter story where Peter cuts off the ear of the High Priest’s slave. Usually this is a part of the account that gets missed out but as I thought about it, I began to see how clear a picture that what happened next is of what Jesus accomplished through his death on the cross.
This poor slave was a part of the group who were arresting Jesus and as a slave he almost certainly had no choice about being there. This makes it especially unfortunate that he was struck by Peter.
Can you imagine the headline if this happened today?
Church Leader Dismembers Man in Savage Attack?
Peter panicked and lashed out. He saw his friend, mentor and lord being arrested unfairly and so he attacked. It is fairly astonishing that Peter went on to become one of the key leaders in the early church despite having a record for GBH. Peter though, learnt a lesson that day and later in life when he was arrested he handled the situation very differently by choosing to speak about Jesus rather than by lashing out!What is more astonishing though is Jesus’ response.
Jesus reached out and healed the man.
As Jesus was being arrested and taken away, he healed the person who was with his enemies!
The moment is captured perfectly in this painting by James Tissot. Jesus is in chains and is being pulled forcefully in one direction whilst he stretches out in the other to heal.
Although Jesus was surrounded by hatred, his heart’s desire was to heal.
This act of grace is incredibly inspirational and challenging all at the same time. Whilst we are in awe of the way Jesus behaves here, we also have to pause and ask whether we would be willing to heal and to bless our enemies even when they are trying to do us harm?
This picture of Jesus suffering whilst reaching out to heal is a reminder of why he died.
Jesus died to make it possible for Enemies of God to become his Friends.
The Bible says
Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2.13)
Jesus died to break the separation and enmity between humanity and God. He took the sin of the world on himself in order to give us the opportunity and the freedom to turn to God for ourselves.
Good Friday is Horrendous Friday for Jesus!
He suffered and died in agony and whilst this is very bad for him, it is really good for us as he removed the barrier of sin that separated us from God.
Good Friday reminds me why I follow Jesus. If he is God and he was willing to go through everything that he did to save a world that had rejected him then he is worthy of our admiration, worship and our everything.
Jesus is worthy of all these things but will we offer them to him?
If you are interested in finding out more about the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection then you might like to look at the other posts I have written about this.
You might also find this song helpful if you want to reflect further.