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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Sword and the Cross, Part 6

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The Sword and the Cross, Part 6

Joh 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
Mat 26:52 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. (Mat_12:36-37) Heb_4:12)

Now, here they stand, two of them with swords, and a group of officers, with Judas, carrying torches and lanterns and weapons. They come for Him. One disciple says "Should we smite them with the sword? Should we fight, Lord?" (Luk_22:49) Peter doesn't even wait for the Lord to answer. He just starts swinging the sword because he's in a situation he doesn't like, and he thinks to defend the Lord. Ask yourself, does the Creator of all things really need flesh to defend Him? No, He doesn't need our help. Never. Peter cuts off a man's ear, named Malchus, whose name means 'counselor or king'.

Malchus was a servant of the great high priest. He was a servant of the religious high priest. Consider that carefully then think about how many people are bound today by religious attitudes and spirits, people who struggle with fear and guilt and condemnation over every little failure. These were a people who ruled strictly and harshly over the Jews. They had so many rules and regulations the people could never hope to live up to their interpretation of the Law of God. But the Lord, seeing how His own had wounded this man, stops everything. He tells them to allow this-don't fight it. Don't resist this for it must be. He reaches out to this wounded man, who probably couldn't hear because of the pain roaring in his head, and He restores the ear. He heals the man. The pain vanishes. The ear is made whole. The bleeding stops. He can hear again out of his ear.

I've seen this in Pentecostal circles. I once visited a church during their camp meeting a couple years ago and sat alone in the back. The place was packed and the service had already started. The visiting evangelist and his wife knew me and my love for the Lord. But the other folks in this church didn't. Some had seen me, a few times there, and at other churches in the city where I live, but these folks were never very friendly, and were of the opinion that women's hair should never be cut, they should never wear any makeup or jewelry, not even wedding rings. They consider it sin if women wear pants, and if their sleeves aren't long, if their dresses aren't long, and their collars aren't high and then they consider that one is dressed 'worldly'. They even frown on men having facial hair.

True worldliness is trying to do anything apart from the power and will of God. We are born in self, raised in self, walk, live, eat, sleep and breathe in self. Self always wants to be first-even in religious circles. It takes the miraculous power of God to separate us from ourselves. To show us what self really is so we will want to reject self completely and totally embrace HIM. It takes the power of the Holy Ghost to work in us and overcome that self. If we ever overcome what we are apart from God, it must be by HIS Spirit, by HIS power and HIS might-not human effort. When the altar call came at this service, I remained seated, bowed my head and prayed, for I had struggled to get there. It had cost me something personally that night to get there. During this altar call, a couple ladies of the church approached me and began to pray for me. I realized as I heard their prayer they thought I was a sinner-that I had never met God. My heart sank, for I knew I'd been examined and found wanting.

The Word of God is a living thing, it's active, powerful, and sharper than any double edged sword. It cuts on both sides. It penetrates and separates the soulish and spiritual, is able to judge the thoughts and feelings of people's minds. It's the most sophisticated and dangerous weapon that has ever existed. In the hands of someone with out the heart of God for humanity it causes much damage. In the hands of someone who is not led by the Holy Spirit, it can spiritually kill.

Jesus had told the disciples many things about the cross, the suffering, the rejection and betrayal and death He would soon endure. They had not lived and traveled with Him these past 3 1/2 years knowing He would leave them. He had not told them these things until it was time. But even then, He had many more things to tell them but in Joh_16:12 He says "I have many things to say to you but you cannot endure them yet." Paul is preaching to a carnal church in 1Co_3:2, he tells them he could only feed them with milk because they could not handle meat. They couldn't bear it, he says. Ministers and laymen and women alike must depend on God's Holy Spirit to guide them. His Word accomplishes what He intends when HE sends it, and quickens it to the hearer. If we just wield it unwisely, we do damage. It takes seeking God to know what is needed by the sheep. It takes being in subjection to HIM, led by HIM or we wound and mischaracterize Him. We don't know what people are able to bear.

When I hear the term holiness preacher or holiness people. I cringe inside. I've learned from experience to expect harshness, legalism, and a critical attitude from those who identify themselves that way. Something else I have learned-if we preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, and we have had our own divine revelation of Him, His beauty, His holiness, we will not be anything but humble, grateful, and eager to show Him to others. If we can help others see Him and understand who He is and what He's like, by being an accurate reflection of Him, then they will want Him, too. If this is our testimony, the Holy Spirit can point us out to others and stir up a hunger in their hearts to know this great Christ for themselves. The more I see of Him the less I want of this world, self, or anything that would hinder or separate me from HIM. This is what all preachers need to understand. Show them Christ and they will want Him. He said if I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself. We lift HIM up for their examination, and people will either want Him or reject Him. But it will be a decision made based on truth, not a lie.

Peter lashed out and cut off this man's ear. Jesus restrained him and reaches out a hand that would soon be pierced with nails, and healed Malchus' ear. As I was reading back over these Scriptures I've been studying for a while now, I saw something in these Scriptures I'd not seen before and it delighted me. Where I am, I know there is a whole generation of people who were wounded in the name of religious tradition, driven from God, and had God misrepresented to them, and they shun Him now. I was one of them. But in the midst of His own carnal disciples, and those who would be His captors, He reaches out, and restores this man's ear. He can restore spiritual hearing, and spiritual vision to those who have been wounded by the Word in the hands of unwise men and women.

What compassion the Son of God displays every time His own act up in a way that would be harmful. Now we have the Restrainer, the Holy Spirit, to guide us and prevent us from this if we listen. In our zeal, let us not wound and maim others. He empowered and changed them. When they saw flesh crucified, when they saw everything they believed in and trusted in hung on a cross, and killed, I believe He was showing them flesh is not where your confidence is to be. I know there was more to the cross than this, but He did not come down from the cross. He let them nail His flesh to the cross. He submitted to this torture, trusting the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of His Father to raise Him back up in 3 days. He showed them I do not defend Myself, I do not deliver Myself. I do not retaliate against those who hurt Me, not inwardly or outwardly. That is in My Father's hands. God help us learn this and God help those who both have wounded others, and been wounded. He forgave His own, and He healed the one they wounded.

If someone is overtaken by their zeal and wounds another, there is hope of healing. There is hope of divine rescue, for the one who hurts and the one who hurt them. The cross is the death of the flesh. Death of self, that which would rise up in the name of religion and wound and maim. With flesh dead, the Spirit of Christ is in full control and miracles happen. I believe God would pour His power through a vessel who is dead to self and this world, who wants nothing but HIM and HIS Will, because whatever miracle is done, self won't dare touch the glory or exalt itself because it's dead. God alone is glorified. Those who are bitter and wounded because they have been hurt by religion, He is able to reach out His nail scarred hand and restore their ability to hear Truth again.

This man, Malchus, he was the servant of the high priest who was plotting the arrest and murder of this Christ and I believe Malchus knew this. Servants hear talk, you know. Imagine what he thought, looking in his pain, into the face of the Savior, and seeing the compassion there. Seeing the Restorer reach out to him when he had been wounded by one of this Man's very own. Oh, for those who have been hurt, He can open their eyes. He can destroy the yoke and set them free. Hallelujah! Oh, the depths, the great depths of the Truth of God.

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