Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 22:50 - 22:51

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 22:50 - 22:51

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Luk_22:50-51. And one of them smote the servant of the high-priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.

IT is but too common for even good persons, who are of a sanguine temper, to ask instruction or advice, while by their conduct they evince that they have very little disposition to receive and follow it. We do not wonder that Pilate should ask, “What is truth?” and go away before an answer could be given him: but it is grievous to see one of Peter’s eminence, who had been favoured with so many opportunities of divine instruction, affecting to seek direction from his Lord, and instantly prosecuting his own unhallowed will. In considering the instance recorded, it will be proper to notice,

I.       The indiscretion of Peter—

Peter, in striking Malchus with the sword, was evidently actuated by a love to his Master, and a zeal for his service; yet his mode of discovering his affection was certainly deserving of blame. It argued,

1.       A want of Christian temper—

[Christianity does not preclude men from taking the sword in defence of their country, when called to it by imperious necessity, and authorized by the civil magistrates: but it enjoins individuals rather to suffer patiently the persecutions with which they are assaulted, and gladly to endure the loss of all things, even of life itself, for the Gospel’s sake. As for taking up arms against the civil power, it is an extremity which perhaps not any thing can justify. Yet this is the very thing that Peter did; and as he did it without any express command, he was rebuked by our Lord, and told that “all, who should take the sword in that manner, however they might think they were fighting the Lord’s battles, should perish with the sword [Note: Our Lord in his answer to Peter pointed out the various sources of his misconduct. See Mat_26:52-54.].”]

2.       An ignorance of the prophetic writings—

[It had been foretold that “one, who had eaten bread with our Lord, should lift up his heel against him;” and that, in consequence of his treachery, he should be “led like a lamb to the slaughter,” and “be numbered with transgressors.” Had Peter fully understood those prophecies he would not so rudely have contradicted our Lord on a former occasion [Note: Mat_16:22-23.], or so impetuously defended him on this; but would have submitted to the will of God, saying, “The cup which his Father hath given him shall he not drink it?”]

3.       A forgetfulness of our Lord’s character—

[Often, yea, but a few minutes before, had Peter seen his Lord performing the most stupendous miracles [Note: Joh_18:5-11.]. If these had been wrought by the Father’s power, could not Christ call upon him now, and have more than seventy thousand angels sent for his defence? If Christ wrought them by his own power, could he not deliver himself out of their hands without Peter’s interposition? But if Christ were abandoned by his Father, and reduced to a state of impotence himself, could Peter protect him against a band of armed men? Was not his furious assault rather calculated to increase their rage, and to make them destroy Jesus and all his Disciples upon the spot? In every view his conduct was wrong; for if aid was needed, his was insufficient; and if it was not needed, it was officiously and imprudently obtruded.]

The contrast between Christ’s conduct and Peter’s will appear by considering,

II.      The remedy which our Lord applied—

Jesus would give no just occasion of offence to the civil magistrate, and therefore set himself instantly to remedy the evil that had been committed—

[Peter had cut off the ear of the high-priest’s servant, probably because he was most active and forward in apprehending our Lord. But Jesus would not suffer even that small injury to be sustained on his account: he therefore “touched” the wound, and restored the ear to its perfect state. What a marvellous return was this for all the indignities which this miscreant had offered him! If Jesus had chosen to work a miracle on this occasion, one would rather have expected that it should be such an one, as should make the “ears of all that heard of it to tingle.” But mercy was his delight; and the more unworthy the objects of his mercy were, the more did he glory in displaying “the unsearchable riches of his grace” — — — Would one not at least hope that this miracle should disarm his enemies, and make them desist from their purpose? But, alas! nothing can prevail with those who are given up to judicial blindness [Note: e. g. Pharaoh was alike uninfluenced by judgments or mercies.] — — — The manner of working the miracle was scarcely less remarkable than the miracle itself: for he not only performed it unsolicited, but even asked permission to perform it; saying to those who were binding him, “Suffer ye thus far,” “loosen my hands for one moment, that I may exercise them in one more act of benevolence before your eyes.” What astonishing meekness and condescension! — — — Thus, while he more than recompensed the injury that Peter’s indiscretion had occasioned, he shewed to his enemies, that his surrender of himself was voluntary; and left to his people a most perfect pattern for their conduct when persecuted by an ungodly world.]

From this history we may learn,

1.       To guard against an indiscreet unhallowed zeal—

[Zeal properly directed, is amiable and praiseworthy [Note: Gal_4:18.]: but a “zeal without knowledge” is most injurious to the Christian cause. Paul’s conduct in his unconverted state, and the request of two of our Lord’s Disciples, may serve to put us on our guard against the fatal mistakes into which even good men may fall [Note: Gal_1:13 Luk_9:54.]. Let our zeal be ever tempered with love, and regulated by the Holy Scriptures; else, while it carries us too far on some occasions, it will prove, like Peter’s, miserably defective upon others [Note: Mar_14:71. Such persons are compared to “a cake not turned,” which, instead of being equally penetrated with heat, is burnt up on one side, and scarcely warmed on the other. See Hos_7:8.].]

2.       To exercise love towards our most inveterate enemies—

[The Christian’s “weapons are not to be carnal,” nor must he “war after the flesh.” He is to turn the right cheek to him that smites him on the left,” and, by rendering good for evil, to “heap coals of fire on the head of his enemies.” “Instead of being overcome of evil, he is to overcome evil with good [Note: Rom_12:19-21.].” Christians, see if this be your conduct — — — And remember that “Christ set you an example that you should follow his steps [Note: 1Pe_2:20-23.].”]

3.       To trust in Christ for the healing of the wounds which sin has made—

[No sword can inflict so deep a wound as sin has made. It were a light matter if it had merely killed the body: it has inflicted a mortal wound on our souls. But Jesus can heal us; nor should any sense of unworthiness prevent our application to him. Let us go to him, and he will add us to the number of those whom he has made monuments of his almighty power and his unbounded mercy — — —]