Good Morning Brothers…
Context is always important. I think I need to start this letter with a little context. I was born in the United States of America. I was born under the Constitution of the United States which still contains the 2nd Amendment. I became a born-again Christian after I became a born-into American. My allegiance to my country is superseded by my faith in my Lord. I am a Christian first, a husband and father second, and an American third. All of the stuff that swirls around my daily life and begs for discernment runs through my Christian filter first. As a Christian, I must use my faith to discern the swirl, NOT, use the swirl to discern my faith. My Christianity must permeate my nationality, but my nationality must not permeate my Christianity. The Constitution does not trump the Bible. OK…we have context.
If Jesus was alive today walking around and spreading His message of forgiveness and redemption…what kind of gun would He own? Do you think He would be a concealed carry kind of guy, or a nice leather holster for the whole world to see? Maybe He would only have guns with hunting in mind? To be perfectly honest, I have a hard time imagining Jesus owning any type of gun. It just doesn’t seem to fit His character. Jesus preached a message of peace and love, of recognizing the needs of the people and providing help and comfort. His three favorite disciples were Peter, James, and John…not Smith, Wesson, and Remington. Would Jesus be a supporter for absolute gun control?
Their is a story in the Gospels which records the events of Jesus’ arrest. One of the things I find interesting is that some of the disciples were armed with swords. In Luke 22:47-51 it says, “While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.”
Matthew 26:51-54 says, “And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”
Not only were some of the disciples armed, they were willing to act. The account of this story in the Gospel of John reveals the swordsman to be none other than Peter. Yes Peter, the same guy who shoots his mouth off on the mount of transfiguration and gets admonished by God the Father. The same guy who denied Jesus three times the same night he cut off the high priests ear. The same guy who Jesus rebuked as satan. The same guy whom Jesus loved. The same guy who became the rock, the tender and shepherd of the lambs and sheep of God, the steadying influence of the early church. Yes…that Peter.
What makes this story even more interesting is what Jesus told His disciples before they entered the Garden of Gethsemane and before His arrest. In Luke 22:35-38 we read this, “And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
What really makes all of this interesting is the instructions to “get a sword” and then the command to “Stop! Put your sword away” after Peter cut off the high priests ear. On the surface, it seems like Jesus was sending mixed messages. However, a closer look at the text suggests something else. In verse 37 it says, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment’. In order for the arrest of Jesus to carry any kind of legal weight, as flimsy as it was, the Jews needed Jesus to be viewed as a transgressor. To be seen and associated with men who were not only causing problems in the temple but were also armed…served as a vindication of sorts to all of those sitting in judgement.
We see justification of this in Jesus words to Peter, after cutting off the priests ear, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” When the disciples told Jesus that they had two swords, His response of, “It is enough”, was more of a testament to the “appearance of being transgressors” than to any thought processes of fighting off the armed crowd coming to arrest Him. Jesus backs this up in John 18:36 when under interrogation from Pontius Pilate, He answers the question of, “Are you the King of the Jews?” with these words, “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
His servants were not fighting. In fact, the majority of His servants died martyrs deaths without raising a single weapon.
Do I think Jesus is anti-weapons?
No…I think Jesus is anti-evil.
The reason that the gun-control debate is so dangerous for Christians…is because of the bitterness it breeds in our hearts. When our understanding of “freedom” and “unalienable rights” changes from a Christian perspective to a National perspective, we have let the “temporal” influence the “eternal.” When Peter cut off the high priests ear, he let the temporal (Oh my, they are trying to take Jesus!), affect the eternal (It must happen this way to fulfill Scripture). When bitterness grows in our hearts over gun-control (or whatever), it affects our ability to reach the lost, to care for the sick, to feed the poor. Gun-control is part of the swirl, don’t let the swirl influence, or dampen our enthusiasm for Christ.
To many of us have let this debate grow bitter within us. We have seen our hearts hardened and our focus changed onto temporal things. To many Christians talk of protecting themselves by force of arms in a tone of voice which drips bitterness and hatred. To many Christians have prepared themselves to deal death instead of delivering life. This cannot be! Their is nothing wrong in protecting ourselves but their is something terribly wrong in aggressively pursuing that engagement in tone, deed, and voice. God is still King is He not? God is still sovereign is He not? Let us have faith, let us repent, let us pray for our persecutors…whether they are threatening our Christianity or only our Nationality.
Let us Pray…