Gospel nonviolence in action: Jesus

 

Jesus being tempted by the Devil. Image by  Fr Lawrence Lew OP, Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND

Jesus being tempted by the Devil. Image by Fr Lawrence Lew OP, Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND

What does Gospel nonviolence look like in action? The Fellowship of Reconciliation held a joint conference with the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship looking at this, and included a talk from the Revd David Mumford. Over a series of 14 blogs, some short and some longer, he outlines the different themes and topics covered in his presentation. 

How did Jesus demonstrate Gospel nonviolence? Think of the temptations in the wilderness – especially the temptation to have political power. Jesus resists these temptations, both then and through the rest of his life until his crucifixion. He embodied the words: ‘worship the Lord your God and serve only him’ (Deut 6:13).

The Jewish people were expecting a messiah who would (in the words of the Archangel Gabriel) have the throne of his father David – who would throw out the Roman occupiers and re-establish an independent Jewish state. During the first part of his ministry Jesus refuses to have his messiahship confirmed (except by evil spirits) as the common expectation was that the Messiah would triumph through violence. He teaches his disciples to love their neighbour and their enemy – and yet Peter in the garden of Gethsemane still has a sword and uses it. He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey and not on a war horse – and this is after people have tried to make him king by violence and Jesus has fled from that. Jesus heals the high priest’s servant’s ear; and at the last he refused to summon the legions of angels and instead goes the way of Calvary.