Est. May 2008

19 September, 2013


Rhonda Robinson writes:
In this week’s reading of Kosher Jesus Rabbi Shmuley Boteach puts forth, not only his admiration for the courage of Jesus but challenges Christians to look closely at what Jesus is actually saying.
the article is good, in its way; if I read it right, Jesus did righteously hate evil and did fight against it.  But Rabbi Boteach writes something at odds with what I’ve been taught concerning this particular passage in the New Testament:
The author explains:

“In Matthew “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…” Jesus was calling his men to arms. An armed insurrection against Rome was his battle cry, even if such armed struggle tore families and communities asunder. Evil has to be resisted.” (emphasis mine)
The Mathew passage Rabbi Boteach refers to is Matthew 10:34-39 (Rabbi Boteach’s selection in italics:
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (ESV)
Is Jesus really advocating an armed conflict with Rome in this passage?  If so, then He was a spectacular failure – Judea remained under Roman domination until the first decade of the fourth century AD (see here).  More importantly, throughout the Gospels Jesus is shown telling His followers not to resist the Romans – the question of paying taxes immediately comes to mind, as well as Jesus telling someone that if a Roman asked (in fact, it would have been an order) to carry the Roman’s load for a mile, the person was to be willing to carry it two miles.  If Jesus was an anti-Roman militant, would he have assisted the centurion who’s servant was dying?  The ‘sword’ Jesus would bring in His first advent was the ‘sword’ which would divide families over believing in Him as the Son of God.  That belief would shatter families and friendships, result in ouster from the synagogue and Jewish society, prison, torture, and in some cases death – these were among the ‘crosses’ those who believed in Jesus would have to carry.

So no, Rabbi, Jesus wasn’t Jesus the Zealot, demanding armed insurrection against Rome.  But yes, He did call for insurrection against evil – the evil of disobedience to God and obedience to the Prince of this world.

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