Readings for Good Friday 19 April 2019Holy Week
“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.” (John 18:10)
So here we have Peter with a sword, and he uses it. Peter shows courage for the protection and love of Jesus, while at the same time not fully understanding what Jesus is all about. And here’s the thing, after he has done this he follows the mob of Temple officials as they arrest Jesus and carry him away. Peter is in over his head.
We know that later he is going to deny knowing Jesus but he’s there at this moment anyway. Maybe he has a plan or maybe he’s looking for a weakness in the sentry guarding Jesus and another opportunity to use his sword; a sword that he was not told to throw away but rather to put back in its sheath: interesting. Jesus does not seem to be opposed to the sword as he informs his disciples that the time will indeed come when they will in fact need a sword (Luke 22:36 -38)
This fisherman, Simon, who was re-named Peter, who is married (and we know this because he has a mother-in-law: Matt. 8:14-15) and has been touched at least twice by God with revelation about Jesus (the Confession: Matt. 16:17; and the Transfiguration Matt. 17) now follows Jesus and is ready to fight for his leader and for the new life his leader has proposed. Peter is ready to defend the command to love with a sword! He might well be considered the first Christian Knight.
While this sword play of Peter also shows up in Luke (22:50), only in the Gospel of John does it identify the sword handler as Peter and the person struck as Malchus (John 18:10). Having their names along with the names of Pontius Pilate and others helps to make this story part of our story.
Today is Good Friday. This is the day we remember that our Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, God Incarnate, was taken into our human hands and murdered. That this happened, we are saved. God is good all the time, even when we are not. This is God suffering for our sinfulness. This is our getting angry about it. But this is also our being very thankful for the grace and mercy of God to forgive us and allow us to be taken into death with the humanness of Jesus and brought into eternal life with Jesus as well.
This is why this is Good Friday; it is an ironic twist of fate that God’s judgment, of our judgment of Jesus, allows for our salvation. It is a sad day for what we did. It is a necessary day for what we need. We, like Peter, must show courage even when we don’t fully understand. We too are in over our heads.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty is doing.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.