One of the greatest tragedies of our time is the number of persons who have been severely wounded by the church, by us, who are not given the opportunity to truly discover the Christ who stands before us all.
Like the servants of the chief priests who have come into the garden, these persons have been in prime position to see the Lord revealed in His glory. Things could have been so different. But instead, we have taken our swords and slashed at them, cut off their ears and left them bleeding in a sacred place.
It's often our zealousness that leads us to do such things, our firm belief that our burning passion for our Lord ought to be our guiding principle. Some of us have spent our whole lives on guard against the Pharisees, not realizing that they, too, were looking for the very things we were - promise, hope, fulfillment, Messiah. The only difference is that we have been so fortunate as to have found it.
But we have taken away any chance that they had. By our suspicions, by our guardedness, by our judgment on their motives, their education, their understanding, their whatever, we have set ourselves up against the seeking world who has heard the whisper of God but does not yet understand it.
And we have cut off - this is no accident in the Scriptures - their ears, that they might not hear this whisper again.
Do you get that? The chief priests were not bad guys. Their theology wasn't wholly different from that of the disciples. They were looking for the very same things of God that the disciples were; they just didn't understand it in Jesus. But they were guided by the same whispers of the promise that led the disciples to drop their nets and follow. And the disciples, in their zealousness, cut off the ear of one of these men who had heard that whisper and was seeking, truly seeking, for something he had not yet found in Jesus.
Here, he stood before Jesus, and the so-called 'faithful' made sure that that whisper would never bother him again, would never again lead him astray. But without the whisper, how could he hear the Lord?
Sadly, this is still our testimony as the 'faithful.' It is still our testimony as the zealous. Throngs of men come searching for Jesus, not understanding Him, not knowing what He truly means, but hearing the whisper of redemption somewhere. And we, in our zealousness - we, in our fear - cut off their ears, just at the moment when they are finally within hearing distance of the Lord Himself.
And I love what Jesus does here. He says simply to His disciple, "Put your sword away. This is okay." Then, He turns to the wounded man, reaches out, and touches him. And, we are told, the man's wounded ear is healed. Just in time for him to hear Jesus say that this is how He must be revealed. This is how He'll come to be known.
He heals the man's ears just before He opens the man's eyes.
Behold, the glory of the Cross....the whisper from the garden.
It is a story that would only be more beautiful if it was not still the one we are telling. Men come into our churches searching for God - misguided, maybe, or maybe in a pure way - not understanding, not knowing. And we who are so sure of ourselves, so sure even of Him, cut off the whisper and leave these men standing in pools of their own blood. And we call this righteousness, but it is no such thing.
Put away your swords. Put them away.
Then, reach out and touch these wounded men. Put your tender, healing hands on them. Pull them in close and whisper anew into their deformed ears of the love and the glory and the goodness of Jesus. We may not restore them, but we give them a hope. Just enough of a whisper that they can hear and, perhaps, open their eyes in time to see.
Behold, the glory of the Cross....