The other day I was reading through the Gospel of Luke. I like to read the Gospels because it is about Jesus. The problem that I have is that I have heard SO many teachings about Jesus and have read those books of the Bible SO many times that I tend to fill in the blanks while I read.
Have you ever known someone who finishes your ____________? I have a friend like that. Whenever I say something he jumps right in and says what he thinks I am trying to say. I love to play games with him so I will say something like “Today has been such a long day, I really feel…” He will jump in and say something like “feel tired and exhausted?” I will quickly correct him and say, “No, I feel like clubbing a baby seal.” (My apologies to people who think that I would actually go clubbing with a baby seal. They are not my type.)
Well, sometimes that is how I read the Bible. I am reading a verse but my mind shuts off because I think that I have already heard that story before. I assume that I already know what it means. When I read the Bible I have to try really hard to read the Bible without any preconceived idea of what it is actually talking about.
So, I was reading this book of Luke, which I might add is the only Gospel that was not written by one of the twelve disciples, and it was the only Gospel not written by a Jew. I don’t know why I mentioned that. Maybe so you will think I am smart? Anyway…
I was reading the fourth Gospel in the New Testament penned by the one and only Dr. Luke and I came to a verse that I found rather troubling and intriguing. Jesus and his dirty dozen are sitting down having a meal that would be famously known as The Last Supper. As they are sitting there eating and going through their traditional Passover dinner Jesus decides to mix things up a bit by saying that the juice is his blood and the bread is his ripped up flesh. I wonder if anyone lost their appetite?
Jesus then decides to gives them this odd little piece of advice:
Luke 22:36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.
I imagine that the disciples looked at each other and shrugged. This whole evening must have been really awkward for them. First they are having dinner in someone’s home that they never met. Then Jesus gives them all a foot bath. Later on he tells them that the food they are eating is actually his blood and body. Next he tells Peter that he will deny him. He also reveals that Judas would betray him. Now he is asking them to buy swords.
I think I would have felt rather uncomfortable.
The disciples take a quick inventory of their weaponry and reply to Jesus.
Luke 22:38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That’s enough!” he replied.
That’s enough? What is that supposed to mean? First he tells them to buy swords, so they say they have two, now he tells them that is enough? What is Jesus’ plan with these bladed tools?
The dinner ended probably less glamorously than Da Vinci would lead us to believe. They decided to go for a stroll in a local garden but the boys were getting pretty tired. Jesus wanted to pray but everyone else started dozing off which seemed to irritate Jesus a little, but I’m sure he realized that they didn’t know what was coming next.
Somehow in the shuffle Judas had wandered off, only to now reappear and give Jesus a peck on the cheek. Jesus’ dozen (minus one) quickly realized what was going on and why Jesus had asked them to bring along the swords.
Luke 22:49-50 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”  And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
The disciples were probably getting ready to go out swinging. They were willing to fight to the death. But then Jesus does something really odd.
Luke 22:51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Let me get this straight. Jesus tells them to bring swords, so they bring them. An angry mob shows up, they take the swords and cut off some dude’s ear. Then Jesus stops them and heals this guy’s ear?
I’ve read about the guy’s ear getting healed hundreds of times, but for some reason I NEVER realized that Jesus actually requested the swords to be brought. Why did Jesus want swords there? Did he want a sword there JUST so the guy could get his ear cut off?
I have never had my ear cut off before, I have never even had my ear pierced before, but I can imagine it would be pretty painful. The closest I came to that was when two friends convinced me to let them pierce my lip. I’m not good with such things! The next thing I knew I was laying on the ground with a bump on my head and a needle halfway sticking out of my lip. I can only imagine that getting your ear cut off would be considerably worse.
Was Jesus actually planning for this guy to have his ear cut off? Perhaps this was one last opportunity to show the angry mob that he was in fact the Messiah? Or was Jesus’ flesh rising up and was he actually contemplating fighting back? I’m sorry but I don’t know the answers to these questions.
One thing I do know, is that the servant never forgot that day, and he had the scar to prove it!
I know that if I was the guy that got my ear cut off I wouldn’t really care what the reason was! Would I be thankful for the healing? Yeah…I guess. But I would have rather not had my ear hacked off in the first place.
As I pondered this scenario I began to wonder if I have ever gotten my ear cut off. Not literally of course. I wonder if Jesus ever set up the situations in my life, or allowed the situations to be set up, simply so that he could be glorified in the solution?
Would I have more faith if I knew that Jesus was in the midst of, and perhaps even orchestrating, the difficulties in my life? The problem is that it SUCKS going though hard times. I bet that servant was pretty upset when his ear softly plopped into the dirt. He was probably in a lot of pain and he was most likely pretty pissed. Kind of sounds like how I act when I am going through a hard time in my life.
I doubt that the servant was really looking for a miracle in the middle of that tragedy…but a miracle came anyway.
When we wade through piles of crap in life we often just focus on the crap around us instead of the Savior who is standing only a few feet away. The Savior who has come to save and heal us. Maybe he wants us to learn something. Maybe he is testing us. Or maybe it’s something that we can’t even comprehend.
I don’t really like to think about Jesus setting up difficulties in my life. I want a life of ease and comfort. But we can know that when we go through painful times Jesus is only a few steps away getting ready to heal our ear.