Jesus: Gandhi or Patton? Part I

Posted on November 29, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Government |


Norse Warriors

Image by Dunechaser via Flickr

As my household prepares for a deployment, I’ve found myself studying up on what the Bible has to say about war, violence, and self-defense. While there is enough material to make Tolstoy blush, I thought my readers might appreciate some brevity, so I’m going to break this up into a few posts.

I think too often Christ gets painted as a dove. People, even some Christians, portray him as some sort of Gandhi that believed violence is always wrong. I’m finding this isn’t so.  One of the last instructions he gave his followers was to be prepared to physically defend themselves against their enemies.

After  the Last Super concluded, Jesus turned to his disciples and asked if He had provided them with all they needed during the ministry to which they affirmed. But then Christ said to them, “But now, take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true” (Luke 22:36-37).

While he was on earth, his followers had Christ’s divine protection in every sense of the word. God was going to ensure that his message was spread and that no physical harm would come to Jesus (or his followers) until the appointed time. Jesus knew his time was coming to an end, and wanted to be sure the disciples knew that he wasn’t going to be around to provide everything for them anymore; they would have to take care of themselves.

While sitting in my house, I have the  protection of the local and state police; I trust they will protect me. But if someone wanted to hurt me or my family, it surely improves my odds of staying safe when I keep the doors locked, have the protection of my fierce teufel hundens, and know how to use my handgun. In the same way, God will protect us, but He won’t take away the free will of our enemies to do harm to us (see Revelations).

So that means Jesus wants us to be Vikings swinging around battle axes against those who threaten us right? Not exactly. When the authorities came to arrest Christ, Peter uses his sword to cut an ear off of the priests (John 18:10). Jesus scolded Peter and said the infamous, “Put away your sword, those who use the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Keep in mind a few hours earlier Jesus told Peter he needed a sword, what gives?

This wasn’t a mob with pitchforks or really angry 99% signs. The men who came to arrest Jesus were acting on behalf of the Jewish authorities and had jurisdiction to be there. Christ corrected Peter’s actions (and even gave the priest his ear back) because a) this was all part of God’s plan b) we do not have the right to use violence against those acting in just authority (it is illegal to shoot at the cops after all). I think the ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ means those who act unjustly will be capitally punished by those in authority, a topic for another day…

So bottom line on this one, self defense is a good thing and something Christ encouraged provided it was defensive against the unjust rather than offensive against the just.

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5 Responses to “Jesus: Gandhi or Patton? Part I”

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I like it. What about David? He has lots of…military in his life, and God had his back.

I also like this:
Romans 13:1-14

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

[…] I wrote in my last post, too many people paint Christ as a dove. Think of all the pictures of Jesus you saw growing up. He […]

Self Defense can also be interpreted as stopping the action evil doers. The Bible certainly supports that concept.

It absolutely does Kevin. That does of course beg the question of what is ‘evil’ and when do we ignore some evil and defend injustice else where.

[…] I wrote in my last post, too many people paint Christ as a dove. Think of all the pictures of Jesus you saw growing up. He […]


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