Monday, March 16, 2015

Matthew 26:50-54 -- On Accepting Suffering

"And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
Matthew 26:50-54

If we were watching a movie and the hero was going to be arrested and put to death, and his friends started fighting, we'd be cheering.  And even more so if it is someone that we care so much about... if anyone deserved an army rising up to defend him, this was the moment.  But Christ, in his wisdom, counsels his friend to put the sword away, reminding him of the restoration of all things, and that if we use violence to solve our problems, violence will be returned to us.  He also reminds him that he could save himself with a thought, but he is choosing not to for a reason.
There are a lot of parallels here to our lives.  Bad things happen to us, and often we want to lash out and solve it by harming or punishing someone else.  And God could stop any of it.  But we forget that the way we solve problems is often more important than the solution, and that God created the whole world for a reason.  Most of the time, just like Christ stopped his friend from fighting back, we have to turn the other cheek.  We have to accept wrongs without acting wrongly ourselves... because that's how we learn, and that is how we teach.  In the Book of Mormon, it talks about a group of people who had converted to the Lord, after many years of being warlike and quick to kill.  After their conversion, they promised the Lord that they would never take up arms again, if he would grant them repentance.  Later, in Alma 24, they were about to be attacked by an army, and because of their oath, they went forth to meet an army without weapons.  God could have stopped the slaughter of unarmed people who believed in him, but he didn't, and as a result, more of the attacking soldiers experienced a change of heart and joined the church that day than the number that were killed.  We might ask is that fair, is that a good trade, is God really just... just as we do about things that happen in our own lives.  How could God allow our family members to die, our friends, or the vast suffering going on each day in this world?  And the answer is, because he has a plan.  Christ suffered and died for a reason.  And the whole world exists for that same reason... to save us.  We have to learn these things.  We need to go through hard experiences.  We need to find the Lord and understand how light is better than darkness.  And we can't learn that without experiencing some darkness.  Christ had to suffer and die in order to fulfill God's plan.  And we, in a different way, also have to suffer, and also have to eventually die.  But God's plan overcomes suffering and death.  Eternal life is waiting for us, as we humbly endure suffering and learn to be the people that the world needs.  The people that *choose* to relieve others' suffering.  The people that make life a little bit better for everyone around them, rather than a little bit worse.  The people who help and lift rather than disparage and defeat.  God's plan is to give us that chance to choose, to change, and to become more than we are.  Christ saved us physically already... we'll all be resurrected.  But he's still trying to save us spiritually.  Let's listen to him, accept our small allotment of suffering, and learn from it to be better, kinder, and closer to God.

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