We have all been troubled by stories from those who have been abused or betrayed by the church. Sometimes these anecdotes stymie us as we try to share the gospel.
When I hear these stories, a scene from the Bible reels through my mind:
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He healed someone. This took place moments after He saw His disciples snooze while He sweated blood. It’s one of my favorite healing narratives. Here’s the context from Luke 22:
On the Mount of Olives, a crowd of the high priest’s men came to arrest Jesus. 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.
John 18:10 says it was Peter who lopped off the ear, and I see Peter here as the symbol and head of the nascent Church. He begins a long tradition of clumsily whacking away at “enemies,” doing damage that Christ has to undo, making the first of many messes Christ has to clean up.
The word for “No more of this!”—Jesus’s response to Peter’s action—is not just a command—it’s used later in the New Testament to promise there will be no more tears, no more old-worldly world, no more darkness when Jesus brings His ultimate Kingdom. What grace and hope in this word that He uses in the tortured, torchlit Garden…