I’d like to share with you a brief reading from the Gospel according to St. Luke in the 22 chapter. We read this familiar account beginning at verse 49.
When those who were around Jesus saw what was about to happen, they said to him, “Lord, should we strike with a sword?” Then one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus responded, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. (Luke 22:49-51)
We know that the world we live in is a place of anger, a place of hostility. That’s just the way it is in this sin fallen world, but I think in recent weeks and months that anger and hostility has been more evident. At least in our own country as we deal with the fallout from the pandemic and all of its fear and the restrictions that have been placed upon us by the state. People get angry about things like masks and about quarantines.
I think the anger and hostility that we see in our world is very much evident now in the civil unrest and the violent rioting that’s occurring in some of our large cities. All of this as we are leading up to what looks to be a very divisive presidential election campaign. Again, more cause for anger and hostility.
And so in the face of all that a simple act of kindness is a rare and beautiful sight. Over against the pitch black background of spite and contempt, kindness shines like a beautiful, glistening diamond.
The scene of our reading here is as dark and hostile as it gets. Our Lord Jesus is about to be arrested by the authorities in the garden of Gethsemane. A menacing mob approaches. And one of Jesus friends, we learn in another gospel that it was Peter, takes a sword, swings, and in the process lops off the right ear of one of those who were coming for Jesus.
Violence begets violence. That seems to be almost the rule of nature. One act of harm produces an equal or greater act of harm, but not in this case. Jesus interrupts that process. He immediately heals and restores the ear to this wounded man and he rebukes his friend Peter. No more of this, he says. In this very touching event we see our Lord Jesus giving an example of his active obedience, that is his fulfilling and keeping of God’s law as our substitute.
Here in particular he gives a good response by not harming someone who seeks to harm him. And in doing this he makes up for all of those occasions when we dream of vengeance and sometimes carry out vengeance. But in this we also see a perfect picture of our Savior’s passive obedience. Here he is obeying the will of his heavenly father. Even to the point that he would go passively to his own death on the cross there to make the perfect atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. For yours and mine too.
Here we see our Lord Jesus going willingly with those who would lead him all the way to the cross. He goes as the meek and quiet lamb to the slaughter. As we see this picture then of our Lord’s active obedience, fulfilling the law, his passive obedience, allowing himself to be eventually crucified for us, then we’re given a beautiful picture of the Savior that we have. The Savior who doesn’t exact vengeance, but who offers forgiveness. Forgiveness to each one of us and out of the joy in believing that in him we have a perfect Savior we’re motivated then also to follow his example, seeking to show kindness. Even in the midst of this dark, often violent and conflicted world, showing others the Savior who has made all the difference for us and for our eternal lives. Amen.