Violence was contrary to everything Jesus stood for. In fact, Jesus absorbed the violence of human beings to bring about peace.
The conclusion was from our first post was surprising: that God in the Old Testament was not a God who endorsed violence. The conclusion of this post is equally unsurprising: Jesus strongly opposed violence. But what may be surprising is how that very position by Jesus was a stumbling block for his contemporaries to see him as Messiah.
Jesus wasn’t the only one who claimed to be Messiah who walked ancient Palestinian soil. Two of those who arrived on the scene after Herod the Great died were Simon and Anthronges. Both led independent revolts against the Roman Empire, with the “principle purpose… to kill Romans” and reclaim the throne by force. The Roman Empire crushed both revolts and executed both men who claimed to be Messiah. The Zealots waited with bated breath for a Messiah who would overthrow Roman rule by force and reclaim the Promised Land with the new Davidic king on the throne.
And then on the scene arrived a Jewish peasant, who talked about the arrival of a kingdom, but a kingdom that “is not of this world.” In fact, Jesus explains to Pontius Pilate, that “if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting… But my kingdom is not from the world.”[i]
In other words, Jesus’ pacifism was not just a quirk of his ministry, it flipped the very expectations of who the Messiah was supposed to be.