“I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.” Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” John 18:8-11
“According to the most recent estimates, in 2015, 10 percent of the world’s population lived on less than US$1.90 a day, compared to 11 percent in 2013. That’s down from nearly 36 percent in 1990. Nearly 1.1 billion fewer people are living in extreme poverty than in 1990.” [worldbank.org]
Suffering. It’s everywhere and it’s extensive. One form of suffering is poverty. This statistic from worldbank.org is a scary reminder of what the world is experiencing. We may be sheltered from extreme poverty in most of our nation, but many are not.
Physical suffering, such as poverty is real but so is spiritual suffering. This passage is about the future physical and spiritual suffering of Jesus. The “cup of suffering” as Jesus describes it, was one he was to drink in order that darkness might be defeated and sin might be overcome.
Yet even with the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, we still have suffering like poverty, slavery, depression, abuse. Did the sacrifice of Jesus bring the kind of redemption he intended? Did his death on the cross make the difference we had hoped?
The truth is, we live in a world where sin continues to reign and rule. Jesus offers humanity a way to choose hope and thrive in the midst of suffering. God has allowed Satan to be the prince of this world. Although his reign on earth is temporary, it can be devastating. Issues like poverty remain and physical death may result. But Jesus came to give us eternal life. Physically we may suffering greatly (even as Jesus did on the cross) — but spiritually, we can be alive in Christ.
In this account Peter does a silly thing. He slashes off the ear of the high priests servant. This does not show courage but fear. Courage might have been going straight for the high priest himself! I only jest, but really, Peter was operating out of his own moment of spiritual and mental suffering. At that moment, he was no better than the rest of us. He actions were the very reason why Jesus would die.
In John 16.33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is our hope and he is our peace. When the world is suffering, falling a part at the seams, Jesus reminds us that through him we can overcome all suffering as one day we will be with him in paradise.
“O Lord God, Jesus chose to drink the cup of suffering. He did so for the benefit of the world! You have saved us! Yet even with your power and might, you still allow brokenness and suffering. Would you come and restore our land? Would you bring healing and justice? Draw all people to yourself that your kingdom will come among us. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen