That Thus It Must Be

Put your sword back …” The voice was clear over the noise of the crowd. The sword, tight in Peter’s hand, refused to strike again against the command. He stared wildly at Malchus, the high priest’s servant, whose hand rose to touch where his ear had been, his face dark and stunned. “Why would the Lord Jesus not defend Himself?” Peter’s thoughts whirled as the crowd swirled in his vision. The voice spoke again; strong, steady, resolute. “Thinkest thou … that I cannot … pray to My Father, and He shall give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matt 26:54).

There they were again, those words. Words that crashed against his wall of resistance when heard the first time. Words which spoke of the necessity of this One’s suffering, the One he was trying to defend against the crowd in the garden outside of Jerusalem. It was a little over six months ago, they had ascended north from the Sea of Galilee a few days journey into the parts of Cæsarea Philippi. There the Lord Jesus inquired of His disciples: “Whom say ye that I am?” (Matt16:15). The revelation given to Peter by heaven itself was his response. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt16:17).

The revelation that this Son of Man was heaven’s anointed filled his heart with hope – hope that there, as it was here, was seemingly being pulled out of his grasp when the Lord Jesus began to show them “how that He [the Christ] must suffer” (Matt 16:21). Peter responded sharply to the Lord, telling Him that it was far from Him; it should never happen. The Lord’s rebuke stung: “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt16:23).

Did God consider the suffering of Christ a “must”? Surely a Father wouldn’t will this. Would He? Would a Son submit to it? Did the Scripture write of the necessity of it? Dull had been his hearing in the Garden of Gethsemane when for sorrow Peter and his two companions slept a “stone’s throw” from the praying Son of God. But God heard and preserved in the Bible words that combine to express the will of the Father and the Son. “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt 26:39). Peter sheathed his sword. Fulfilment of Scripture?

Peter, now an older man, moves his hand along the parchment, an instrument in the hand of God, writing the Scriptures expressing why Christ suffered. “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1Pet 3:18). Did his pen rest momentarily? Did the words spoken to him by the Lord on that night in the middle of the crowd come to his mind: “that thus it must be”? Did he wonder why he had ever struck with the sword, trying to stop that suffering that had brought him to God? Do you see that Christ’s suffering for sin was a “must”; He, the sinless, for sinful men and women, to bring them to God? Will you resist the Christ that suffered for sin?