“Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Matthew xxvi.52
No one has ever spoken like the Lord Jesus. His teachings are revolutionary in nature. They are forever relevant today as in the days of old. The verse cited above is one such unique and path-breaking teaching. Jesus said to the chief of his apostles that bearing arms would not only be ineffective in one’s fight against evil but also that the decision to bear arms was equivalent to signing one’s death warrant. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Christians who are in favour of taking up arms for self-defense sweep this cardinal teaching under the rug. They are fond of Jesus’ earlier instruction to his disciples: “And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” (Luke xxii.36) The disciples replied, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And Jesus said, “It is enough.” Were two swords sufficient for the protection of twelve men? No! It is obvious that Jesus had asked his disciples to be armed so that a scripture might be fulfilled: “And he was numbered with the transgressors.” (Isaiah liii.12) It is disappointing to see several Christians, by choosing to be armed, readily take up the tag of “transgressors” even though there remains no unfulfilled prophecy regarding them to that effect!
The Lord Jesus, through his non-violent and non-retaliatory approach towards wicked men who arrested him, set an example for all Christians to follow. “For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. ” (I Peter i.21-23)
Through His command to Peter – “Put your sword back into its place.” – Jesus inaugurated the Messianic age characterized by peace and justice. One of the characteristics of the Messianic age is disarmament that leads to progress: “They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Micah 4:3) Indeed there will be a day when “nations will not use weapons against other nations, and they will no longer train for war.” That revolution of world peace should begin at the level of the individual. When individual Christians choose to disarm themselves – in more ways than one – and make themselves vulnerable as Christ was before his tormentors, they will sow the seeds of world peace. Christ did not end up a loser. Neither will we, if we follow His example via Dolorossa. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.