violence of Easter beckons us to embrace non-violence.
The cruelty and barbarism of the Cross calls us into a
Kingdom of compassion and forgiveness. The hostility on
Golgotha, which summoned forth all the demons and
darkest forces of the cosmos, wilted in the face of
love. It still does, though few of us believe
a largely overlooked "turning point" in that week's
drama-the arrest in Gethsemane. Lit only by the full
moon and the flickering flames of the hostile crowd, the
garden provides a profound Kingdom
the chaos and adrenaline, Peter whips out a sword and
slashes wildly at the nearest person. Malchus, the
unfortunate bystander, ducks his head just in time to
save his scalp but lose an ear. Then Matthew records
Jesus' strategic response.
"Put your sword back into its place; for all
those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."
Luke, the doctor, mentions that Jesus healed the ear.
But this moment in Gethsemane represented the final
opportunity for Jesus to resist the looming crucifixion.
He could run, fight, or surrender. He chooses the
latter. And in that choice, He teaches a powerful
your sword into its place."
Kingdom of God will not be saved, served, or assisted by
violence. The Crusades of the middle ages and the
abortion clinic bombers of our own day both serve as
blights on the Christian historical record. The way of
Christ is not the way of
that first Easter, properly understood, proclaims the
senselessness, futility, and godlessness of violence.
Yet, as western believers we support and feed our
"right" to aggression. We tolerate and even encourage
macho bravado-"You touch my family and I'll kill
you!"-as though it demonstrates "real love." We spend
hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours on
violent video games, and call it social networking. We
patronize R-rated movies that dish up gratuitous
violence and excuse it as entertainment. Yet, all the
while these choices and habits contradict the essence of
followers of Christ, we have not yet learned the way of
Jesus refused to fight the blood-seekers, when He
submitted to the crazed crowd, He showed a strength and
faith that has stymied the world ever since. He did not
battle to the death, as all our usual heroic figures do.
Instead, He poured out compassion and trusted in the
resurrection. And death did not stop Him. Nor will it
this Easter reinforce for us that power and force are no
match for compassion and faith.