Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions
reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
Matthew 26:50b–52 (NIV)
Often when threatened, we want to fight back. It is part of our nature. But in Jesus’ betrayal, we receive a different message. Jesus flips the script and world upside down. Instead of fighting back with sword and violence, much like those who came to arrest Jesus, we are told to put our swords back.
That is a hard lesson for most of us. We want to fight with all we have when we are threatened. But Jesus calls us and challenges us to find another way to fight. Put the swords down and use your words and actions, for that is where power truly comes from. Fight systems by doing exactly what they don’t expect — fight without violence. Fight with your words, your energy, through protests and civil actions, take to the streets and use your voice, not your weapons, work to bring about change through your resistance.
Action: Spend a moment reflecting on your personal context and community. Think about the areas of your life that you tend to lead and work for change with the power of the sword. Now, step back and think about those places and organizations in your community that fight back and work for justice without the power of the sword. Create a list and try to join one or more for upcoming events they are hosting. Find a way to participate, to engage in and work with them to bring about change and peace to your corner of the world. See how your outlook on peace and justice change as you approach it from a nonviolent perspective.
Prayer: Gracious God, we know that we are called to put away our swords, but that is often easier said than done. Give us the courage and strength to do so this day. Enliven us to your ways of justice, equip us with the voice and action needed to bring about your peace and justice to our hurting world. When we are complicit in systems of oppression and abuse, awaken us to this and work within our hearts to bring transformation. May all that we do in this world be done to usher in your great peace for all Creation. Amen.
The Rev. Maggie Alsup lives on iced coffee, believes that Disney movies are for all ages, is obsessed with hippos and hails from the great state of Oklahoma. She loves to cook and try new baking recipes when she isn’t traveling and exploring new places across the U.S. and world. She is convinced that if she could give up her love of bacon, she could become a vegetarian. Maggie has served as a youth director in Arkansas and Alaska, which sparked her love to work with young adults in the church. After earning her Master of Divinity at Columbia Theological Seminary, she served in campus ministry at Clemson University and in her current call at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. Her passion in life is helping empower and equip students for the life and ministry of the church universal.
This year’s Path of Peace reflections are designed to help participants explore peacemaking efforts addressing some of the major issues of our time. The theme for the 29 days of the 2022 A Season of Peace is Led Forth in Peace: Critical Areas of Engagement for Peacemakers. With these daily reflections, we are invited to reflect upon ways to practice peace by engaging the following critical areas:
- Climate change
- The intersection of poverty and racism