Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage begins with verse sixty-six of the fourteenth chapter, and continues through to the fifteenth verse of the fifteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find three distinct events taking place within the final hours before Jesus would be forced to carry His cross along the road to Calvary where He would be crucified upon it. Within this passage of scripture you will find the author turning his attention to one of Jesus’ disciples, and the most outspoken disciple at that. If you read and study the night in which Jesus would be betrayed unto the hands of His adversaries and accusers you will find that when the contingent of soldiers armed with swords and staves entered into the garden you will find that Simon drew a sword of his own and with it struck off the war of the Servant of the high priest. While still in the garden where the disciples were instructed to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation we find Simon taking hold of the sword and using it to exact some type of vengeance upon those who would lay hold of seize Jesus the Christ. It would be Jesus Christ Himself who would instruct and command Simon to put the sword back in its sheath and would declare that those who live by the sword die by the sword. The words which Jesus spoke concerning those who live by the sword dying by the sword are actually quite interesting and quite astonishing when you take the time to consider it, for His words clearly indicate and state something utterly and completely compelling. When Jesus declared unto Simon that those who live by the sword die by the sword what He was ultimately saying unto this disciple was that those who spend their lives relying on and using the sword to service their own ambitions and their own desires will be those who will find themselves at the edge of a sword themselves. Take into consideration the Roman Empire and how they relied on the sword time and time again to conquer and subdue nations, and kingdoms and peoples in order that they might expand their own idealistic passions and desires upon the earth. The Roman Empire was known for their aggression and use of the sword in order that they might expand their territory and increase the size of their empire. That which Jesus the Christ was speaking and that which He was declaring that those who think they need and those who feel they have to live by the sword will themselves be judged and killed with the sword.
I cannot escape the words which Jesus spoke unto Simon on the night on which He was betrayed, for Jesus’ words speak and reveal something truly and utterly powerful concerning our lives—particularly and especially when you take into consideration what is spoken concerning the appearance of Jesus the Christ in the New referent prophetic boom of the Revelation of Jesus. As you begin reading this New Testament book you will find it written concerning Jesus that He had a sharp two edged sword which proceeded forth from His mouth. Please do not miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for the apostle John didn’t mean, nor was he suggesting that Jesus has a sword within His mouth. That which the apostle John was writing and describing was the appearance and the likeness of what He saw while on the isle of Patmos. When the apostle John writes and speaks concerning Jesus the Christ having the appearance of a sharp two edged sword coming forth from His mouth, that which He was speaking of and describing was the tremendous authority and the tremendous power that was found within the words and mouth of Jesus the Christ. Remember what it stated concerning the word of God and how the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword. Remember how the author of this New Testament epistle describes the word of God and the tremendous authority and power that is contained therein. Remember also how James emphatically declares within the epistle bearing his name that the tongue has the power of life and death, his indicating the tremendous authority and power that is contained within the words in which we speak to those around us. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that which is presented in each of these passages, for when Jesus declares unto Simon that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, I do not believe that within our generation we are such who use physical and natural swords to accomplish and carry out our own purposes, desires and ambitions. There are very few of us—if any—who actually carry swords with us in this generation, however, that doesn’t mean that the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto Simon have no impact, effect and warning for us within this generation. I am thoroughly convinced that the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto Simon on the night in which He was betrayed carry tremendous weight and significance for us who are disciples and followers of Jesus Christ in this particular generation.
I am convinced that before I attempt to delve further into this reality and concept of those who live by the sword will be those who die by the sword, I feel it absolutely necessary to present you with the very passages which I have referenced already in this particular writing. I am convinced that in order for us to truly understand and comprehend the weight and the significance of the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto Simon there in the garden, it is absolutely necessary that we consider first the words which Jesus spoke unto Simon as they occurred in real time, and then consider the various references that will help us understand what Jesus spoke concerning those who take up and live by the sword will also die by the sword. If you begin reading with and from the forty-seventh verse of the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel which the apostle Mark wrote, you will find the following words written concerning Jesus in the garden when His betrayer would enter into the garden with those whose instruction was to lay hold of and seize Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found within this passage of Scripture beginning with the forty-seventh verse of this particular chapter:
“And while He yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He: hold Him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed Him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took Him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest though that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold of me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:47-56).
Given the context of what took place in the garden we can clearly see that when the contingent of soldiers which were sent by the chief priests and the elders of people entered into the garden to lay hold of seize Jesus, Simon Peter one of Jesus’ disciples took up the sword they had with them and used to strike off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest’s ear. In all reality, I am convinced that this was precisely why Jesus instructed Peter, James and John to watch and pray, and also declared unto them that the main and sole purpose of watching and praying was in order that they not fall into temptation. I am completely and utterly convinced that in this particular instance and in this particular case we in fact see two distinct temptations which faced the disciples—the first was the temptation to forsake Jesus and flee in that moment when the soldiers laid hold of and seized Jesus, while the second temptation was to take up the sword in order that they might somehow defend themselves in the heat of the moment. Jesus came back to the three disciples whom He had invited with Him into the garden not only once, but two times, and on both occasions He found them sleeping for their eyes were heavy with sleep. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the temptations in that moment—that moment when others came armed with swords and staves—was to make an attempt to rise up in the heat of the moment and use the sword in like manner. What is actually quite interesting is that there is absolutely no indication that the soldiers who entered into the garden drew or even used any of the swords and staves they brought with them, however, this is not the case of what we read concerning the apostle Peter. While it was true that none of the soldiers drew their swords within the garden—much less used them in order to lay hold of and seize Jesus—this was not the case concerning Simon, for Simon would draw the sword that the disciples had with them in order to use it to provide some type of defense for Jesus the Christ. Now, on the one hand there might be those who would admire the courage and the boldness of Simon in that moment, for it appeared that he was the only one who was willing to “take a stand” for Jesus the Christ. There would be those who would read these words and consider that the actions of Simon Peter were of such a nature that he was willing to take up the sword and use it in order that he might somehow defend Jesus the Christ, and in order that he might defend his fellow brothers on this particular night. There would be those who would commend the actions which Simon engaged in on this particular night, and yet Jesus the Christ clearly indicated that the taking up of the sword was not only unnecessary, but it was also not advised. Peter was willing to draw the sword, and even use it, and yet once he did in fact use it, Jesus instructed him to put away the sword. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus instruct Simon to put away the sword, but he would also declare unto him that those who live by the sword will be those who die by the sword.
THE DANGEROUS ROAD OF SWORD BEARING! THE DANGEROUS ROAD OF SWORD WIELDING. I am completely and utterly convinced that there is a tremendous danger concerning taking up the sword within our lives—and not only taking up the sword, but also takin up the sword and fully intending on using it. The more I sit here this morning and consider the actions of the apostle Peter the more I can’t help but think about the tremendous fact that there is not only a great danger, but also a great temptation that surrounds those who are willing to take up the sword within their lives. I am completely and utterly convinced that there is a danger surrounding a willingness to take up the sword within our lives, for those who are willing to take up the sword must themselves by nature of taking up the sword continue taking up and using the sword. I can’t help but think about the Roman Empire and how from the moment they first took up the sword to conquer and subdue the nations, kingdoms and peoples around them they were relegated to continuing to take up the sword day by day. If you read and study the history of the Roman Empire you will find that the empire lived and died by the sword which they used to expand their own territory, and the territory of the Roman Empire in order that they might make “the glory of Rome” cover the face of the earth. I am sitting here this morning and I can’t help but think about and consider the reality and concept that when we begin taking up the sword, and when we begin to take up the sword with the intention of using it against and towards those around and before us within our lives, we relegate ourselves to needing to live by the sword. I have to admit that I am so grateful and thankful that Jesus not only instructed Simon to put away the sword, but also declared unto him that those who lived by the sword would also die by the sword, for Jesus used that moment to correct the thinking that was found within the heart and mind of Simon. In that moment—that moment when Simon gave into the temptation to take up the sword, as well as to use the sword—Jesus not only corrected Simon’s thinking as it pertained to taking up and using the sword, but Jesus also informed Peter of the dangerous nature of the sword. In all reality, that which Jesus the Christ was declaring unto Simon was that those who are willing to take up the sword thrust themselves into a dangerous game of swords, for once you use the sword you will begin looking for other opportunities to use the sword. I am convinced that Jesus corrected Simon’s use of the sword on this particular night, for He wasn’t willing to allow Simon to continue down the road of drawn swords which are used against those who would threaten him. When Jesus instructed Simon to put away the sword, I believe that He wasn’t simply instructing Simon to put away the sword in that moment, but Jesus was instructing Simon to put away the sword and to not take it up again within his life. In that moment he gave into the temptation to take up and lay hold of the sword in order that he might use it to “take a stand” for Jesus, and yet Jesus saw fit to correct Simon’s thinking concerning the need and use of the sword.
There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read these words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto Simon we are directly confronted with the incredible reality that once we make the decision to use the sword for the first time, we position ourselves to use the sword again—perhaps even again and again. I am completely and utterly convinced that what Jesus was doing in this moment and on this particular night was preventing Simon from walking down a path where he would feel the need to use the sword to defend himself against the threats and the attacks of others. Permit me to pause for a moment right here and ask you whether or not you feel the need within your own life to take up the sword and defend yourself from the threats and actions of others. Are you one who feels compelled to take up the sword in order that you might defend yourself from the words and actions of those around you? Please note that when I ask such a question I am not speaking about taking up a literal and physical sword, but rather doing what is necessary and using what is available to you to defend yourself. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder what your sword is. What sword have you chosen for your life in order that you might somehow defend yourself from and against the threats and attacks of others? What is your preferred weapon of choice—a weapon which you have absolutely no issue or quarrel pulling out of its sheath in order that you might use it to defend yourself? There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest weapons of choice is in fact the sword that proceeds forth from our mouth. I am convinced that what James the half brother of Jesus wrote concerning the tongue is absolutely true and critical to our thinking concerning this matter, for I know within my own heart and life that my preferred weapon of choice is my tongue and the words which proceed from my lips. Consider if you will—not only the words which James the half brother of Jesus declared in his epistle concerning the tongue, but also the words which Jesus spoke concerning the tongue and how out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks:
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of. Mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:1-12).
“And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came His disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But He answered and said, Every plant, which my Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:10-20).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to the words which proceed forth from the pen of James the half brother of Jesus, as well as the words which proceed forth from the mouth of Jesus the Christ, for with these words we recognize and understand how one of the greatest weapons we have at our disposal is that of our words, and that of our tongue. We would be incredibly native to think for one minute that our tongue is not perhaps the single greatest weapon we have within our lives—one that we can use on a consistent and daily basis in order to defend ourselves from what we perceive as the threats and dangerous of those which are around us. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my tongue is perhaps the single greatest weapon I use on a consistent and daily basis in order to defend myself from what I perceive as the threats from those who are around us. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I use my tongue to express sarcasm before and unto those around me, as sarcasm is a natural defense mechanism I have in order that I might somehow safeguard and protect myself from the threats and dangers of those who are before and around me. What’s more, is that I know that beyond simply using sarcasm, I can be a very outspoken man who if is not careful, can allow and permit words of sheer and utter destruction to proceed forth from my lips. I know that there have been times in my life before when I have allowed my tongue to get me into trouble, as I have used my tongue and the words which proceed forth from my lips in order that I might not only defend myself, but also inflict damage in the lives of those who I perceive as threatening me. What we must recognize and understand concerning Simon’s use of the sword is that not only did he use the sword to defend himself—as well as perhaps defending Jesus the Christ—but he also took up and used the sword to inflict damage upon those who dared enter the garden to lay hold of and seize Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but wonder what would and what could have happened in the garden had Jesus not intervened within the life of Simon and instructed him to put away the sword. What would and what could have happened had Simon not only struck off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest, and Jesus made absolutely no attempt to correct his actions, as well as his thinking? I am convinced that not only did Jesus correct Simon’s thinking, but in that moment Jesus also corrected Simon’s actions, for had Simon not been instructed to put away the sword, it is quite possible that he would have used it again within the garden. What’s more, is that the more Simon used the sword on this particular night, the more he might very well have become and grown addicted to the surge and the rush of using the sword against those whom he perceived as enemies, as adversaries and as combatants.
I sit here this morning and I can’t help but get the strong sense that what Jesus did for Simon that night was save and spare him from a lifetime of feeling the need to use the sword against those who would oppose and threaten him. What Jesus did for Simon Peter was save and spare him from spending a lifetime living addicted to the adrenaline rush of using the sword against those whom he perceived as threats, as dangers and as enemies and adversaries. Had Jesus not intervened within the life of Simon on this particular night, Simon might very well have continued using the sword in order to inflict as much damage as he possibly could against those who dared enter into the garden and come against Jesus the Christ. Simon drew the sword the first time and did in fact use it to strike off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest, and yet not only did Jesus instruct Simon to put away the sword, but Jesus also reversed that which Simon had done. What I mean by this is that once the sword was put back into its sheath, Jesus then took the ear of the servant of the high priest and restored it to this man’s body thus making it completely whole. Oh, how much damage does Jesus have to undo because of things that I have said? How much damage does Jesus have to undo because of actions I have taken? How much damage have I inflicted, and how much hurt and pain have I caused with my words and actions which Jesus the Christ needs to reverse? How many times have I been responsible for inflicting damage, hurt and pain within he lives of those who I have perceived as a threat, and yet Jesus has had to come and pick up what was struck off, and restored to its original place? How many ears has Jesus had to pick up and restore within my life because I have been careless and reckless with the sword which I have chosen to take up and use against others? How many times has Jesus had to come behind me and pick up the damage and carnage I have left in the wake of my defending myself from the threats and assaults of those who I perceive as coming against me within my life? How many ears have I left in the wake of my own defense, and in the wake of my carelessness because of the words and actions I have committed toward and against others? How many ears have I struck off simply because I felt the need to take up the sword and use it against those who I feel have threatened and come against me? How many ears have I left behind me, and how much blood have I shed simply because I have been careless and reckless with my words? How much damage have I inflicted because I have chosen to take up the sword and continue to use it against those who have somehow threatened, assaulted and attacked me? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have been careless and reckless with the sword within my own life, and I have spent a lifetime living by the sword I have drawn. Do you want to know the sad part concerning this all? The sad part is that I can’t even remember the first time I picked up the sword for the first time, nor can I even remember the first time I pulled the sword out of its sheath and used it against those who I feel have threatened and come against me.
I fully recognize that what I have written about in this writing has absolutely nothing to do with the text that is before us today in the final verses of the fourteenth chapter, as well as the first fifteen verses of the fifteenth chapter, however, I am convinced that it is not only necessary for those who would read these words, but it is also necessary for me myself. I am thoroughly convinced that Jesus’ words are desperately needed within my own heart and life, for Jesus’ words concerning those who live by the sword die by the sword directly apply to me, as I have been one who has needed to live by the sword. While I do not remember the first time I picked up and drew the sword, I am convinced that I have been living by the sword for quite some time. I am thirty-six years old, and in fact I recently turned thirty-six, however, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have spent a considerable amount of time living by the sword. I asked the question earlier concerning what our weapon of choice is, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my weapon of choice has been my tongue and my words. I know that I have used sarcasm, gossip, backbiting, and various other methods of speaking in order that I might somehow defend myself from the threats I perceive as being hurled against me by others. I have often said that I am like a rattle snake, and what I mean by that is that I don’t initially lash out and strike. I will remain silent when you initially attempt to threaten or come against me, and like a rattle snake I will give some type of indication that you are getting to close and that you are violating my space. If the sound of that rattle goes ignored and unheeded, I will then proceed to lash out and strike without warning and without any type of indication that it is coming. While it might not seem like a great analogy, I am convinced that it directly applies to me, for I might initially be silent if I feel threatened by you, or if I feel like you are coming at and coming against me. I might remain silent and might not say anything at first, but if you continue coming at and if you continue coming against me I will eventually reach the point where I will respond with the full force of my words and with the full force of my tongue. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my tongue is my preferred weapon of choice, and that it is the one weapon I use to defend myself from the perceived threats of others. I know that I have used the words of my mouth to not only defend myself, but also to inflict damage toward, against and upon others. I know that I have used the sword that is present within my mouth, and have used it time and time again in order to inflict damage against and damage in the lives of those who I feel have come against me. Please note that I am in no way suggesting that this is right, or is even necessary—merely that I am aware of what my weapon of choice is. I am fully and completely aware of the fact that the weapon I use within my life is in fact the words of my mouth, and I can completely and totally understand why David would ask the Lord that the words of his mouth and the mediation of his heart be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the living God. David wasn’t merely concerned with the words which proceeded forth from his mouth, but he was also concerned with the meditations of his heart, and I would dare say that David’s words are New Testament theology—specifically New Testament theology and doctrine of Jesus concerning speaking from the abundance of our heart—written and recorded on Old Testament pages.
Permit me again to ask you what your preferred weapon of choice is—that weapon which you use as your go to when you feel threatened by those around you. What is that weapon which you choose as your go to when you feel violated and threatened by those who are before and around you? What do you use in order that you might somehow defend yourself—and not only defend yourself, but also to inflict maximum damage and casualties within the hearts and lives of those around you. Please take it from me that there is a tremendous danger and temptation with living by the sword, for I have spent a considerable amount of time within my life living by the sword. I have spent a considerable amount of time using the sword of my mouth to inflict damage upon the lives of others in an attempt to defend myself. I am sitting here this morning and I am completely and utterly convinced that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is calling me to once and for all put down the sword and to no longer live by the sword—a weapon which I have used time and time again to inflict damage within the hearts and lives of those around me. What’s more, is that directly connected with the use of the sword is the need we feel we have to defend ourselves from the threats or perceived threats of others. Directly linked and connected to the sword is our perception and what we feel as necessary within our hearts and lives. The apostle Peter picked up and drew the sword because he felt compelled and felt the need to defend himself from the threats of those who had entered the garden, and yet Jesus was unwilling to allow him to continue carrying, picking up and living by the sword. Jesus instructed Simon Peter to put away the sword, for Jesus knew that if Simon continued to use the sword—not only would he become addicted to the sword, but he would also feel the need to defend himself, and would not allow himself to drink the cup which Jesus had for him. This is in fact the single greatest danger with taking up and living by the sword, for taking up the sword and living by the sword effectively prevents and prohibits us from drinking the cup which Jesus has ordained and appointed for us. What’s more, is that I would dare say there are more men and women who would rather take up the sword than take up the cup which Jesus ordained and appointed for them, and they do so because they are unwilling to let go of their lives and feel the need to hold on to and guard them. The question that I can’t help but ask your who are reading this is whether or not you are willing to take up and drink the cup which Jesus has ordained and appointed for you, or whether or not you will take up and live by the sword. The undeniable and indisputable reality is that you are either doing one or the other—either you are taking up and drinking the cup, or you are taking up and living by the sword. There is no in between and there is no grey area, for you are doing one or the other. The question I am asking myself is whether or not I am willing to put down and put away the sword in order that I might take up, drink, and live by the cup which has been ordained and appointed for me by Jesus Christ Himself.