When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter reacted defensively, swinging his sword and cutting off the ear of one the high priest’s servants. Jesus responded in Matthew 26:52, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
This verse is the foundation for the well-known saying, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” In short, it warns that those who live by violence will die by violence.
We’ll come back to this scene shortly. But baked into the word “sword” is “word.” And this morning, we’re going to tie all this together. I’m not discounting Jesus’ words, but let’s write a new saying based on “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” What if we wrote, “Live by the sword, live by the WORD?”
Let’s review Scripture first:
- In John 1:1, Jesus is referred to as the Word. John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
- Let’s move on to Matthew 10:34. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” I think we can agree that’s an uncomfortable quote, because it’s not in line with the love-others-as-yourself Jesus we expect. But this comes just before His caution to those who follow Him—that they must take up their cross and love Him above all else.
- Next, in Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is compared to a sword. It says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
- Finally, let’s go to Ephesians 6:17. In this passage about putting on the Armor of God, we are told, “…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”
Do you see where we’re going here? Jesus IS the Word of God. He is timeless—equal with God, and His love is woven throughout all of Scripture. And despite Jesus’ command to love others, He didn’t promise that following Him would be easy. That’s why He said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Many of us can attest—following Jesus can sometimes put a wrench in even the closest familial relationships. It means deciding that following Jesus is more important than the relationships we have with parents, spouses, children, or friends. But following Him is worth it.
Then, when we put on the Armor of God, and use the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God), all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) because His Word is “…living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”
So when we live by the sword of God’s Word, we can live in alignment with Jesus’ instructions to pick up our cross and follow Him.
Let’s go back to the Garden of Gethsemane…Peter’s response was reactionary. But as Jesus pointed out to Him in verse 53, He had all the resources to protect Himself, but the coming events were a part of God’s plan. It’s an example that no matter how hard the circumstances God asks us to face, He will work all things for good according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Peter’s reaction was based in panic and fear, but let’s look at the rest of his life. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter understood. He devoted his life to sharing the Gospel—the good news of Jesus! Though he died a martyr’s death, he lives…all because Jesus lives! Peter chose to live by the Sword of God’s Word and therefore, he lives in Jesus’ presence for eternity.
Live by the sword, live by the WORD…and when we live by Sword of God’s Truth, we will live forever with Jesus. Praise God that we can embrace this truth today!