We should stand amazed that our Lord, in His moment of greatest affliction––and as the object of the greatest injustice in the history of the world––would stretch out His hand to His enemies in love. This last miracle of love is rivaled in greatness only by our Lord praying on the cross––as the soldiers nailed Him to the tree–”Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” There is a world of love in that touch that should drive us to “go and do likewise.”
I have always been astonished by the magnitude of Jesus’ last miracle prior to His atoning death on the cross. As His attackers came to take Him by force, Simon Peter stood ready to defend His Master. With sword drawn, he struck the ear of Malcus, the servant of the High Priest. F.W. Krummacher notes the sense in which most professing believers would respond had they been there to witness this seemingly courageous act. He wrote,
“‘Well done, Simon!’ we are ready to exclaim, ‘only proceed as you have begun. These sons of Belial deserve bleeding heads! If you, who are his intimate associates, could have coldly witnessed this abominable crime against your Master, we should never be able to believe in your love to him.”
However, nothing could be further from the reality of that which was animating Peter. Far from a courageous act of love to Christ, Peter was acting with self-interest. Krummacher again explained,
“That which appears to us as such an amiable trait in Peter, is only a confused mixture of self-love, arrogance, and folly; while the fire of our natural enthusiasm for Simon’s act, proceeds likewise only from short-sightedness and blindness.
It is undeniable that an ardent and sincere affection had its essential part in this act of Peter’s; but certainly, it was not love alone which nerved his arm on this occasion; at least he was equally as anxious to save his own honor as the person of his Master; while the publicity of the affair was assuredly no mean stimulus to his bravery.”