When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. -Luke 22:49-51
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. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” -John 18:10
Peter and the disciples have “poor impulse control,” as friend and fellow minister Megan Johnson puts it.
And maybe we do, too. Because it’s easy to be impulsive when we’re in situations beyond our control. We’d prefer to take matters into our own hands- and quickly. Doing something rather than nothing can make us feel better, even if temporarily, when grief and tragedy stare back at us.
And it’s easy to convince ourselves when we’re following Jesus that justice itself demands our action. That the world is depending on us. That God’s redemption means activity rather than passivity on our parts.
Some of us have really big savior complexes, too. We’ve convinced ourselves that Jesus really does need us to redeem the world. We evangelicals are especially prone to this kind of dysfunctionality.
The funny thing is that when I meet people like this, I end up not really liking them. They’re frankly annoying- like super heroes who have traded in the cool hair dos, gimmicks and special powers for a big ego and a small sense of humor.
But when God calls us into His mission of redemption, God isn’t calling us to fight. Nor is God calling us to flight (which Peter will do shortly when he denies Jesus three times). God is calling us not just to see and apprehend what God is doing, but then to acquiesce to it, which is a kind of dying to ourselves.
This intentional passivity on our parts demands much more strength and courage than an impulsive falling back on our own devices. It requires that we sit still and attentively in the pain and mess of life, all the while staying close to Jesus and being available to God whenever and wherever. When we impulsively rush in with prescriptions for what needs to happen in order for things to be right, we will often miss the most important things God is doing in our midst.
[Note: by now you may have realized that we’re breaking the norm of “the seven stations” as they traditionally have been defined and numbered. These stations are my own, as observations and impressions that have struck me in reading the Passion narrative this time around.]