What was the last recorded miracle before Jesus’ death? It was the healing of a soldier’s ear that had been cut off by one of Jesus’ own diciple. Sometimes people need to be healed from what has been done in the name of God. We need to be humble enough to see that those who follow Jesus can be messy, wrong, and violent. But hopefully we can see Jesus’ response to the matter. Hopefully we can see His compassion and forgiveness.
A great example of this is Peter who after using his sword to cut off a guy’s ear, eventually goes on to live out the teaching of Jesus, even after denying Jesus 3 more times. Peter learned how to love by answering Jesus’ question, “Do you love me?”, which He asked 3 times to ensure Peter that his failures were completely covered and removed by His Love.
Jesus was known as the One who would teach humanity the ways of God and reveal who God really was. He would spark a revolution that would cause people to beat their swords into tools of reconciliation that would plant trees of life in the earth. He would teach people how to treat humanity with love and even to love your enemies because that kind of love was the only power that can reorder or repair the world. Let’s look at the significance of His last miracle.
The last miracle Jesus does before He is killed is heal a man’s ear who had been cut off by one of His own. Jesus’ whole ministry was trying to open people’s ears that had been cut off by the deafening sounds of misunderstanding God. He came to free the oppressed and set captives free to hear & see who God really was. He revealed what abundant life really meant. A life lived in forgiveness, freedom, wholeness, peace, joy, love, righteousness, goodness and self-control. A life lived by the power of the Spirit and not the power of the sword. The sword symbolized and actualized the power of death. Jesus was rewriting people’s understanding of God and continually said,
“He who has an ear let Him hear.”
It is obvious that many had a hard time hearing Jesus’ teaching then just as they do now. But we can learn some powerful truths about why those who follow Jesus’ teaching are called “Children of God.” Children tend to imitate their father. They do the works of their Father because their nature is like the Father. They hear and see what the Father is doing, which is exactly what Jesus did. Let’s now look at an exchange of words Jesus had with some others about who God the Father is and who the children of God are.
In John chapter 8 some religious people are questioning Jesus’ nature and who He really is. Jesus tries to tell them that He is sent from His Heavenly Father but they simply can’t get it. They can’t hear what the Sprit is saying yet because they do not have ears to hear. Their ears have been deafened from listening to lies about who God really was. Let’s “listen” in on the dialog that was happening.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hear and hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31)
The crowd does not like where Jesus is taking his “freedom talk” and they begin to quote their heritage and ethnicity to justify their version of freedom and their claim to God. Jesus then strikes to the heart of the matter because He is always after the heart. He tells them that they are not children of the One in whom they claim to be children of but they are children of the devil. Ouch! He exposes what is really in their heart and says:
“You are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.”
And that is how it goes sometimes doesn’t it? People look for ways to justify the killing of their enemies. People want to justify violence in the name of God, whether verbal or physical. It could be in the name of belonging to some sort of nationalistic idea of good and evil or simply in the name of their race or their particular understanding of God’s ways. Though it was not apparent in the beginning of the conversation, the nature inside of that audience became abundantly clear by the end of it. Jesus was flipping their script. Jesus was turning their world upside down because they had no ears to hear.
The crowd had no room for His teaching because their hearts were crowded with conflicting ideas about the nature of God.
The crowd then protested that God was in fact their true father! And so Jesus continues cutting into their heart with the precision of the sword in His mouth:
“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Do you remember Jesus’ words to Peter, “Do you love me?” He is stating the same thing here. If you love me you would follow my teaching and listen to me. That is the mark of Christlikeness that refuses the mark of the beast. It refuses the system of religion, nationalism and politics that are built around the axis of self-protection and violence in the name of truth, freedom and justice. But Jesus’ language was not clear to them because they listened to the nature of the father they actually followed, who was a liar and a murderer. They could not hear the truth of the One in front of them who had no deceit in his mouth and no violence in His nature. They could not hear the Truth from the One who spoke and created their very existence.
And yet the Way, the Truth and the Life remains.
This takes us back to the last miracle before Jesus gave up His life for his friends and his enemies. The last miracle before Jesus would completely expose the violent nature of man and reveal the way of peace that loved people even unto death. The last miracle before Jesus’ Father would vindicate His Son’s life and message by raising Him from the dead, thus proving for all time that unconditional love was always stronger than death. Again, the last miracle before all this was the healing of a man’s ear who had it cut off by a follower of a Jesus. You have to hear this.
Jesus immediately told Peter to stop using the sword and He has been calling us to stop using the sword ever since so we can seek the true ways of healing.
Jesus has been calling us to hear His words and believe His ways. To have ears to understand who God is and to live in the ways that make for peace. To stop living by the sword so we are enabled to demonstrate the ways of God that will even equip the world to no longer train for war. To stop rejecting God in the name of our claim to Him by our traditions, national affiliations and so on.
And He is continuing to ask, “Do you love Me?” because He will never stop loving us. He wants us to know who God really is because He knows once we hear and understand, we will naturally love the One who first loved us. We will understand that we are the true children of God because we know what our Father is like and we want to be like Him. We even know that those who do not follow God are not loved any less than we are.
Jesus explained it like this,
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Father causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
So let’s start coming to a close with the redemption of Peter’s ears. The one who used a sword against Jesus’ enemies and went on to deny Him 3 more times. We eventually see Peter learned how to love Jesus well. Peter beat his sword into a tool that could spread the Good News of God’s love to nations. It is said that when Peter was eventually led to death on a cross he requested to be hung upside down because he felt he was not worthy to be killed like Jesus. Yet Peter loved his friends enemies unto death like Jesus did. His original way of the sword had been turned upside down to embrace the way of the cross.
An upside down sword is in the shape of a cross.
Peter and Jesus lived out this reality that turned the world upside down. But why are people who preach love and peace killed? They are only killed because the powers that reject love order their lives in having power over people and they legislate it by violence. The ways of true peace threatens the status quo of this courrupted power. Jesus taught His followers to be Servants of All. With Him you come under people and lift them up instead of ruling over people to tear them down or control them by fear. He flips the world on its head in order to make it right again and cast out fear. He orders the world around the love of others instead of the love of self-protection. This is still an upside down concept for many today because it seems foolish.
The cross and loving your enemies unto death is all foolish to a worldview that refuses to beat swords into non-violent lives of reconciliation.
The status quo of ruling over people causes people to think Jesus’ teachings are weird and impossible if not downright offensive to their positions of power. The Book of Acts records what some city officials said of Jesus’ followers.
“They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.”
You see following Jesus naturally confronts the ways of the world and invites you to renew your mind. It pledges allegiance to a Lord besides that of your nation or possibly your familys tradition. It follows the King of kings above any other king. This means people who claim to follow Him are to have Him first before all things. This is why Jesus asks people to seek first the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of man. This is why Jesus asked people to count the cost because you just might be killed for following His ways.
It makes all the difference in the world to understand context doesn’t it?
True context can purify much of the Americanized Jesus that costs people nothing to follow.
So let us live life upside down. Let us seek first the Kingdom. Let us pledge allegiance to the King of kings. This is not a political or religious writing. This is life and death. This is the way, the truth and the life that can possibly cost you your life but even then, you get to keep it. I hope we have already counted the cost and have already died to ourselves so that we can live with Him, whether in life or in death.
So let us put down the swords that deafen peoples ears and let us beat them into tools of love and reconciliation that can better answer the question Jesus asks,
“Do you love me?”
If we say yes we get to partake of the last miracle Jesus did before he died.
We get to heal people’s ears that will cause them to hear and know the beauty of God’s love that seeks healing and not destruction. We can show our friends AND our enemies the love of our Father. We can confidently and innocently be… the children of God.
He who has an ear let him hear,