Jesus, knowing what was about to befall Him, said, “Whom are you seeking?”
They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
Jesus answered, “I am He.” As they stepped forward to arrest him, Peter drew a sword and struck Malchus, the high priest’s servant, severing his right ear.
What followed was not a historic battle between good and evil forces. Instead, Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword back into the sheath! The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” Then He picked up the ear off the ground and healed Malchus.
As we see far too often today, the divine did not prevail over human will that night. The disciples became confused that Jesus was intent on living out His instructions to them that if someone should strike them on one cheek, they were to turn the other one also.
We humans just don’t get this “turning the other cheek” idea. It’s too dangerous. It requires trusting in the Almighty. We aren’t very good at that.
Even though Jesus performed an incredible healing miracle – restoring his wounded enemy to full health, the darkness of the human heart prevailed. Jesus was arrested, paraded through the city, given a mock trial, then executed alongside two petty criminals. The disciples would have preferred to launch a religious war right then and there. Only days before, the people of Jerusalem had lined the streets, laying down their coats and palm branches in front of their Messiah, mistakenly believing He was about to lead them in a triumphant rebellion against the occupying Roman Empire – and would re-establish the mighty Israel once led by King David.
Instead, Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified – and in doing so established a kingdom that the human mind still has trouble grasping, a realm which would transform Western Civilization and alter the course of world history.
Seven centuries later, some would say Christianity was saved when French military genius Charles Martel turned back the Muslim invasion that had conquered the Holy Land and swept over predominantly Christian Turkey and Egypt – imposing Islam from the Balkans to India and deep into Africa.
In October of 732, at the Battle of Tours, Martel stopped the Islamic hordes from sweeping over Europe.
Historian Edward Creasy said Martel’s decisive victory “gave a decisive check to the career of Arab conquest in Western Europe,” and birthed modern civilization. Historian Edward Gibbon is clear in his belief that the Muslim armies would have conquered the known world — from Japan to the English Channel — had Martel not prevailed.
“Few battles are remembered 1,000 years after they are fought, but the Battle of Poitiers, (Tours) is an exception,” wrote Matthew Bennett,
a co-author of the 2005 book Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World.
Martel at the Battle of Tours
Dexter B. Wakefield writes in An Islamic Europe: “A Muslim France? Historically, it nearly happened. But as a result of Martel’s fierce opposition, which ended Muslim advances and set the stage for centuries of war thereafter, Islam moved no farther into Europe. European schoolchildren learn about the Battle of Tours in much the same way that American students learn about Valley Forge and Gettysburg.”
William E. Watson wrote in 1993: “One can even say with a degree of certainty that the subsequent history of the West would have proceeded along vastly different currents had Abd ar-Rahman been victorious at Tours-Poitiers in 732.”
And here’s an irony: Given the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Martel’s taking up arms contradicted everything that Christianity stands for.
Indeed, it set the stage for years of conflict and armed struggle — ignoring Jesus’ strong rebuke of Peter, telling him to put away his sword and, instead, to trust in God to provide a better way.