Addendum to "Jesus and the Gun"

This is a brief essay in followup to another I wrote previously HERE. There are some who would say that Jesus in fact did rebuke Peter for carrying a sword, using Matthew 26:52 as their justification. There are 4 gospel accounts of this scene, and Matthew 26:52 is the only one which mentions anything close to a rebuke. Here are the 4 versions for your own view, using the ESV version:

Matthew 26:51-54 - “51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?””

Mark 20:46-49 - “46 And they laid hands on him and seized him.47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.””

Luke 22:49-52 - “49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him,“Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?”

John 18:10-11 - “10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?””

The person who first gave me the Matthew cite to dispute my thesis is a dear friend who is a missionary in Europe, and whose personal politics are quite to the left of my own. In the end, I have to reject his analysis because the sum total of all the gospels in this passage does not support it. In Matthew, the closest that Jesus comes to rebuking Peter for the fact of having a sword in his possession is the classic “he who lives by the sword shall die by it” - but that has always had a meaning more along the lines of “he who lives violently will die violently”. It does not forbid self-defense, or defending others. Jesus concludes the passage by asserting that his arrest is necessary to the fulfillment of Scripture.

In Mark, Jesus does not react at all to Peter cutting off the servant’s ear. Instead, he rebukes his captors, and then says “let the Scriptures be fulfilled”.

In Luke, Peter is not specifically named as the one who struck off the servant’s ear, and Jesus only says “no more of this” Why? Because he knows the Scriptures must be fulfilled……and then, just as in Mark’s account, Jesus rebukes his captors.

In John, Jesus tells Peter to put the sword away so that he (Jesus) can be obedient to the Father’s will.

It seems very clear to me that only one gospel account records a rebuke of Peter for having cut off the servant’s ear; but that rebuke is an admonition to live peacefully, NOT an admonition to not defend himself or his loved ones. There IS a difference, and it is MORE than just semantics. And that is at the heart of why most people who carry a pistol do so. They wish to live in peace, but they are prepared for when someone else will not allow peace. In this light, I think it does not hold up when theologically liberal Christians cherrypick one verse out of one gospel, in order to [A] make a claim for something that Jesus did not actually say, and [B] when the other gospels do not support the assertion.

 

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