Trading a Sword For a Cross

December 5, 2021

David Sorn

God’s kingdom doesn’t need the sword to be established. It needs the cross

Trading a Sword For a Cross

December 5, 2021

David Sorn

God’s kingdom doesn’t need the sword to be established. It needs the cross



Good morning. How’s everybody doing?

If you don’t know me, my name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here.

It was in my eighth-grade social studies class that I first began to think a bit more critically about international news.

Most Americans are semi-aware of what’s happening in their own country, but we tend to be significantly less aware of what’s happening outside of it.

Each week, my 8th Grade Social Studies teacher made us look up Global News Stories in the Newspaper (you remember the Newspaper, right), and we would do little write-ups on them.

And when you look outside America, you see all sorts of challenges (not that we don’t have our own challenges!)

But you see countries dealing with military coups, some dealing with civil wars, others that just finished elections where the same leader just got 99% of the vote somehow, for the 4th or 5th time in a row

What you see, all around the globe is a quest for power.

And why is it that we crave power so much?

And how should the Christian respond to this global phenomenon (that has been around since the dawn of time, and isn’t going away anytime soon)

I want to get into that today as we dive into the book of Luke in the Bible

(Page 720)

Luke is 1 of 4 books in the Bible specifically about the life, teachings, death, & resurrection of Jesus

We’ve been walking through it verse-by-verse

We are currently on a Thursday night and Jesus is going to be nailed to the cross the very next morning.

He’s finished the Last Supper with his disciples, and he’s gone out to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane

And we’ll join the story there

(Luke 22:47-53) – NIV

47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”


Okay, so what we see throughout the book of Luke is that Jesus is attracting A LOT of attention.

Thousands upon thousands come out to hear him speak and experience His healing

And the religious leaders at the time, the Chief Priests, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees are jealous.

They want to get power back for themselves.

And how are they going to do that?

The world’s way.

They’re going to get power over him.

Arrest Him.

Beat Him.

Kill Him.

So they use Judas, one of his disciples, to find Jesus’ location (at a time when he’s not with the huge crowds), and they arrest him with swords and clubs.

And what do the disciples do when they feel like this amazing kingdom they are helping to establish is threatened?

Look at verse 49 again

(Luke 22:49) – NIV

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”

When they feel threatened, and that everything they’ve worked for is going come crashing down, they resort to the same idea everyone else in the world seems to have…to fight.

To get power by conquering over another

And we see this sort of thinking, not only globally today, but you can see it right here in America.

And you see it, more and more each year, even amongst Christians…who increasingly feel that if we are going to fix this country, we must get power over others.

But that’s a misunderstanding of the Kingdom of God that Jesus speaks so often of in the Gospels.

I encourage you to read Luke (or Matthew, or any Gospel) through yourself and study “the Kingdom of God”

The Kingdom of God as Jesus describes it is what “life is like when HE is King”

But to truly understand God’s Kingdom as it relates to power and this passage, we must realize 3 things.

Here’s the first one:

To truly understand the Kingdom of God, we must realize:

1: God’s Kingdom is not established by the sword, but the cross.

This may seem very self-explanatory to you as we live in a culture that generally abhors violence, but it has not been self-explanatory to many Christians throughout history, and it may not be self-explanatory to us in the future

The disciples want to establish God’s Kingdom, and they’re completely willing to keep Jesus in power through the sword, but they are sharply rebuked by Jesus

Do you see verse 51? What does Jesus say?

“No more of this!”

In other words, this is not my way

When the church wields the sword, the worst of the worst happens

The other day I was talking with a college student in our church, and I asked him, “What’s the number one objection you get to Christianity on a college campus?”

And he said, “The Crusades. That awful time in history where Christians killed to expand their cause”

When the church wields the sword, the worst of the worst happens.

What the world sees looks nothing like the love & forgiveness of Jesus.

Now, let me make an important note:

The point of this passage isn’t that no one should ever use a sword (it’s not about pacifism)…

…but it is a passage that teaches we don’t establish God’s Kingdom through the sword.

Do you see the difference?

And the sword here stands not just for literal violence, but can also represent any sort of powerful coercion (where we’re forcing people to do something in God’s name)

You see this sometimes in history where a tribe’s chief converts to Christianity and then, in ignorance, forces the rest of his tribe to convert as well.

And what results is obviously not a love for Jesus

The disciples want to fight for the kingdom, but Jesus, in contrast, allows himself to be arrested.

The Gospel writer Matthew tells us that Jesus also said this to the arresting crowd:

(Matthew 26:53-54) – NIV

53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

He’s essentially saying, “that’s not how God’s Kingdom is going to be established. It’s not through the sword, it’s through the cross”

And the same is true for us, we bring God’s Kingdom to this world not by getting power over people, but by dying to ourselves…to our will.

By letting go of our selfishness and serving others

By letting go of our fear and boldly sharing about Jesus with others

I think of Jim Elliot (whom you can read about in the book “Through Gates of Splendor)

Jim and 4 other missionaries in South America were martyred by tribesman as they went to share the Gospel in the Amazon rainforest

The missionaries had guns with them, but they refused to shoot, knowing that the natives didn’t know Christ (and they did)

And eventually, it was the sacrifice and heart of these men that led to that entire tribe following Jesus

Transformation comes from love, not power

The cross, not the sword is the way to changing the world.

Think of it this way:

Who’s the most influential person in history?

An army general?

Genghis Khan?

No, it’s Jesus…the man that never picked up a sword, but carried a cross


And this brings us to our next point:

To truly understand the Kingdom of God, we must realize:

1: God’s Kingdom is not established by the sword, but the cross.

2. God’s Kingdom is far bigger than any earthly kingdom

While the disciples are primarily concerned with setting up an earthly kingdom for Jesus, Jesus is thinking far bigger

I mean think about it, what if Jesus would have called down the angels and evaded arrest.

Say he even became the next Roman Emperor, and then died at 85

Would you even know his name?

How many Roman Emperors can you even name?

“If Jesus picked up a sword instead of a cross, what would His influence have been?

Christians can get so wrapped up and so distracted in trying to establish our earthly kingdoms that we forget that God is always thinking bigger

And that’s not to say that earthly kingdoms, or that politics, or legislation, or any of those things are not important.

As I said at the beginning, one need only to look to places like China, Nigeria, much of East Africa, North Korea, and about 50 other places to see that earthly kingdoms, run poorly, have devastating consequences.

So, yes, do your part.


Some of you should run for office.

Run for the school board, city council, or the Minnesota Legislature

We need more Christian influence there

But let me tell you a really important distinction that is often, to our detriment, left unsaid in modern Christianity: The transformation of society is not our primary goal as Christians.

This is very nuanced, so listen closely.

As Christians, our first objective is to glorify God, to worship Him and to live firstly for Him.

When we put that first, God will then transform us to look like his Son.

And one of the things that this change within us will bring is a desire (and an ability) to change the society around us.

But if we get that backwards…

And we focus first on transforming society…and only secondly on turning all of our lives over to God…

What almost always results is a focus on earthly kingdoms, rather than God’s Kingdom’s transforming earthly kingdoms through us.

One way to see this is to study the PRIMARY focus of Jesus’ life

Jesus was not first and foremost concerned with making sure that the city of Jerusalem passed good laws and had good leaders in office.

Now, those things were important (and still important in modern day), but those things are to be an outworking, a benefit of what will happen when we put God first and He moves through us.

But when we get it inverted, we end up trying to set up a kingdom without THE KING

And without the King, our quest for change inevitably starts to go awry, and before you know it, our hands are reaching for our swords.

And I see small glimpses, tiny precursors, of this on the horizon in this country.

One way you can see it is by the sheer number of American Christians who devote a significant portion of their free time talking about politics (I’m not saying engaging in politics, running for office, volunteering…I’m saying…just…talking)

They say that they put God first, but how many people do you know that SAY that, but in reality, they spend hours a day watching political commentary, reading political sites, and listening to political podcasts.

And it’s obvious by what they post, wear, and what they constantly talk about that their great hope for the transformation of our country is not the Holy Spirit bringing revival, but an earthly kingdom with the right leaders elected.

Or there are others within the American church who have decided that the answer to transforming society is to remove all of the spiritual and moral aspects of the Gospel and just focus on the service aspects of it (the poor, justice, and the social gospel)

and thus their church services sound more like political talking points than Biblical teachings

On both sides, there are people who are throwing their lives into this…hours and hours a day, while reading their Bible once a month and attending church 10 times a year

There are many people today, claiming the name of Christ, who if their politics were really challenged…

And say, the opposing party began to seriously threaten their way of life, they, like Peter, wouldn’t hesitate to reach for their sword.

But also like Peter, if their livelihood were say threatened because of their faith in Jesus, I fear they might deny that they ever knew Him

And that’s the type of Christianity we’re bound to end up with if we keep seeking first the kingdom of earth.


But what is the way of Jesus?

That’s the key distinction in our passage.

The mob has come out to arrest Him

Sure, Peter has cut of the ear of one of them…but that very person was there to arrest Jesus…

…and not to put Jesus on house arrest for a month, but to have him executed in the morning!

How does Jesus respond to that?

He walks up to the servant, and rather than hitting him while he’s down, he touches him, and heals his ear.

And this is how Jesus continues to respond for the next day as events unfold

They mock Jesus with a crown of thorns and pretend to hail him as King

But He stays silent

They whip him over and over

Christ died for them while they were still sinners

They nail him to the cross

And he says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing”

And how is He able to do that?

Because He doesn’t see them as the enemy

Which brings us to a very important third point

To truly understand the Kingdom of God, we must realize:

1: God’s Kingdom is not established by the sword, but the cross

2. God’s Kingdom is far bigger than any earthly kingdom

3. Humans are not enemies to be conquered, but people to be saved

And my heart worries for the state of Christianity in this country on this very point.

This is perhaps the clearest indicator that we are bathing ourselves in the world of politics and only dabbling in Christianity

And this reclassification of humans is happening because the polarized world out there thrives off of making you see the other side as precisely that, other.

Every speech, every article, every news report is meant to paint the other side as inferior, intellectually stunted, or even as your enemy

And if that’s the world you read about, and watch, and listen to most often, soon enough, you’ll start seeing people divided into two camps

The good guys and the bad guys

Peter is able to pull out his sword that night precisely because he seems himself as a good guy stopping the bad guys

But Jesus pulls out his healing hand because, for Him, the world is not divided between good guys and bad guys.

It’s one group: Humans…created in the image of God.

All in need of salvation

Hear the words of Jesus about this

(Luke 6:27-29) – NIV

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.

And how in the world can we actually do that for those that we’ve deemed are our enemies?

We can only do it if we see them as Jesus sees them…as people….created in the image of God.

People loved by God, but without the saving knowledge of Him, will spend eternity apart from Him.

We all have people all around us that we’ve been classifying as bad, or wrong, or foolish, or liberal, or conservative…

And Jesus teaches us that they are first humans…humans who need God.

And they desperately need you to see them not through the eyes of political media, but through the eyes of Jesus again

People don’t need to hear your latest political opinions and how they’re wrong.

How many people will there be in hell that could say about us, “You know, I knew all about their opinions on COVID and politics, but they never told me how to be saved”

And we won’t, until we start seeing people through the eyes of Jesus again

And we see people to heal…not people to fight

People are not our enemies to be conquered, nor opinions to be swayed.

Move your eyes from the sword to the cross

Bring your heart back to the bigger picture!

And so who is it that you need to change your perspective on this week?

Who do you need to pray for instead of gossip about?

Is there some sort of media you need to step back from and just read your Bible instead?

Who do you need to share Jesus with instead of share your political opinion with?

How can you saturate your mind in God’s Kingdom instead of obsessing over an earthly one?

Remember, it is God that brings the change…even the change that earthly kingdoms need.



We believe the good news of God changes people…changes lives forever.

And one of the ways we celebrate that is through baptism

In fact, I want to call our Baptismal Team on stage right now

Baptisms are reminders that every person…even those who used to mock and oppose God (like myself)…every person is not an enemy, but a person in need of Christ’s forgiveness

Baptism is a symbol of what Jesus did for you when you, personally, believed in Him (that you were washed clean)

It doesn’t save you.

But it’s an important step for every Christian once they’ve made a decision to follow Jesus

Every person you see baptized at Renovation Church is baptized by two sponsors (people who’s had a spiritual impact on them)

And so, we’re going to begin!



And in this passage today lies an invitation for some of you

That even we who have opposed Jesus…

We who have not lived for him, but instead have spent our lives living for ourselves…

Even we can be forgiven.

Look at this…this man is coming to arrest and execute Jesus

And as his ear is cut off, Jesus has every right to execute judgment on him right then and there.

This man was trying to aide in the execution of the Son of God…that’s an egregious sin.

And yet Jesus comes to Him in love.

And today, He comes to you in love.

You can be forgiven.

Just like all of the people who are displaying that truth in their baptism today…that they were once forgiven

And they were so when they put their faith in Jesus

When they believed that he died on the cross for their sins

It’s that faith that sets you free.

It’s what gives you a relationship with Jesus

And eternal life in heaven.

But you won’t have forever to make that decision.

There is no second chance after death.

And so I urge you to make it now.

In fact, let’s just have everyone close their eyes and bow their heads

If you need to let Jesus forgive you…

…to trust in Him that He died for your sins…and turn your life over to Him.

As a way to mark this day, and tell Him that you believe, I want you to stand up where you are right now.

Everyone has their eyes closed, so don’t think about that.

If you need to tell Jesus that you believe, and you need His forgiveness…

If you’re ready to surrender to Him…

Stand up right now.

For those of you standing, we want to pray with you.

Repeat this out loud after me…whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been one for quite some time.

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.


As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of you standing up, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…

So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.

You won’t walk out there alone.

There are others standing with you, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you

And I, and our follow-up team are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.

If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.

All right, you can all go now.

As they’re walking, I’m going to thank God in prayer. Let’s pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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