C H U R C H R E F O R M S E R I E S
By Biblicism Institute
Many are under the impression that Jesus Christ was a promoter of violence.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reason they think so is because of certain passages in the bible, which they either misunderstand or take out of context.
Sword # 1
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to this land. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ ” Matthew 10: 34-36
The sword Jesus was talking about in those verses was not a physical sword to wage war willy-nilly. That sword was to be the conflict within the Hebrew house over who Jesus was. That’s why immediately after, Jesus said this:
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10: 37
When a household is divided over who Jesus Christ is, it is a household that cannot stand.
“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3: 25
Further, Jesus (or God) had a contract with the Hebrews. They were supposed to love Him and follow His commandments, which they never did.
However, there was a stipulation in the contract in Deuteronomy 28:
15 “But if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you:
25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated by your enemies…Your corpses will be food for all the scavenging birds and wild animals, and no one will be there to chase them away.”
So when Jesus brought up the subject of the sword, He was also telling the Hebrews that the curses of the contract were about to fall on them, because by rejecting Him and refusing to listen to Him they were not fulfilling their end of the bargain.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning…” John 8:44
In that sense God “brought the sword” in that specific situation, which was covered under biblical laws and contractual obligations of the Old Covenant. He therefore removed His protection and allowed them all to be killed – all who had rejected and crucified Him.
“For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, But those cursed by Him will be cut off.” Psalm 37:22
Consequently, the Hebrew house did not survive.
“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” Matthew 23:38
That desolation was the Apocalypse of AD 70 by the Roman Army that saw the end of the Old Covenant and the total annihilation of the Hebrew race – except for those who became Christians and fled beforehand.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city.” Luke 21: 20,21
Sword # 2
The following verses are strangely used to promote gun ownership, violence, and even war:
“And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one…’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’ ” Luke 22: 36, 38
Obviously, those who misunderstand those verses would also misunderstand the modern expression “batten down the hatches”, which means “prepare for a difficult or dangerous situation”. When somebody uses that expression, does someone actually go and literally batten down the hatches? Of course, not.
In the same vein, Jesus was warning the disciples of dangerous times ahead. He wasn’t ordering them to literally go and buy a sword. It was just an expression like “batten down the hatches”.
Still, when the disciples showed Him the two swords, He said “It is enough” or “It is plenty”.
That answer was Jesus setting up the disciples in order to truly demonstrate how anti-violence He was. As it turned out, when one of the disciples struck the servant of the High Priest with one of the swords, Jesus without flinching commanded them to put the weapons away.
” ‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ ” Matthew 26:52
He then helped the one who was struck by miraculously healing his ear, even though the wounded was an enemy who came to arrest Him.
Jesus was God who became flesh, and thus always knew what was about to transpire. He was wont to set things up in order to bring about an event or a discussion.
“He asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ ” Mark 8: 27
“Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin.” Matthew 17: 27
” ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ ” John 1: 48
Further, Jesus always spoke in parables. The “sword” metaphor of Luke 22:36 can be compared to the “leaven” metaphor, which the disciples also misunderstood.
“Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, ‘Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’
“And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?’ They said to him, ‘Twelve.’ ‘And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?’ And they said to him, ‘Seven.’
“And he said to them, ‘Do you not yet understand?’ ” Mark 8:14-21
Do you not yet understand that Jesus is anti-violence?
” ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” Luke 22:51