Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part LVI: Accepting The Role Of Pacifism For Believers Facing Religious Persecution
(Mark 14:43-52 et al.)
  1. Introduction
    1. There is a nationwide issue in the Evangelical movement regarding the proper response a believer should have to the religious persecution of Christians. A circular by an Evangelical leader this week takes Christians to task for not being activists in defending Christians in third world nations from religious persecution. It promotes the use political clout with Congress and the Presidency to stop this trouble.
    2. An interesting event occurred involving Peter's attempted defense of Jesus at his arrest in Gethsemane, and it included Christ's comments on Peter's effort that had an enduring impression with him. The passage, and Peter's enduring impression addresses this issue directly with an important lesson as follows:
  2. Accepting The Role Of Pacifism For Believers Facing Religious Persecution, Mark 14:43-52et al.
    1. When Jesus was betrayed in Gethsemane by Judas, the soldiers put Him under arrest, Mark 14:43-46.
    2. One of the disciples, whom we know from John 18:10, sought to resist in Christ's defense by using his sword to cut off the right ear of Malchus, servant of the High Priest, John 18:10.
    3. This effort was countered by Jesus' clear actions and teachings as follows:
      1. Jesus opposed Peter's intended defense of Him, telling him to put his sword back into its sheath, for it was the Father's will for Him to suffer, and Jesus intended to fulfill that will at that time, John 18:11.
      2. In fact, we know from Matthew 26:52, Jesus broadened His address by noting that all who take up the sword as a means of promoting such a defense during religious persecution will perish with it as well. In other words, the use of force was NEVER the way to deal with godless religious persecution!
      3. In fact, Jesus even touched the injured man's ear, and healed him, Luke 22:50-51.
      4. Consequently, Jesus continued in discussion with His arresting detractors, explaining that it was not necessary for them to use swords and staves to capture him as He was a righteous man, not a robber, Mk. 14:48-49. Jesus thus went ou t of His way to reveal by His pacifistic approach to his persecutors that He was not in a struggle against them on the issue of His being taken captive for persecution, but that He had a mission to fulfill of suffering in accord with the Father's will.
    4. Since Peter was in the thick of this whole event, it obviously left a dramatic impression on him which He expressed later under the Holy Spirit's inspiration in his writing of 1 Peter 2:20-23 as follows:
      1. In writing about how fellow believers were suffering, Peter noted that their taking the unjust buffeting patiently was acceptable with God, 1 Peter 2:20.
      2. In fact, Peter concluded that Christ's suffering unjust persecution was the believer's example, that all other Christians should "follow his steps", 1 Peter 2:21.
      3. In following Christ's steps, Peter went on to note that Christ's refusal to recompense His persecutors while under persecution, but rather leave the injustices with God the FATHER to judge thus became the norm for the believer under persecution.
      4. By application, if a believer is unjustly under religious persecution, to mimic Jesus, he should tell other believers three things: (a) "Put up again thy sword into his place," Mtt. 26:52a; (b) " . . . all they that take the sword [in defense of the religiously persecuted believers] shall perish with the sword." and (c) " . . . the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11)
Lesson: Just as it is a violation of God's will for a believer to try to escape religious persecution by force, it is equally wrong for the believer to try to rescue another from godless religious persecution by force. The teachings of Jesus in His arrest and Peter's resulting lesson in 1 Peter imply as much.

Application: (1) If others are being mistreated for reasons other than godly religous persecution, the believer should try to deliver them from that mistreatment. (2) However, religous persecution of the godly is a divinely-ordained calling in the plan of God, cf. Mtt. 5:11-12. Accordignly, (a) we are not to rescue the godly by force of arms; (b) we are not to use force of arms even in our own unjust religious persecutio n, and (c) our being unjustly persecuted for Christ's sake needs to be received as God's will for us!