Marching Into the Gates of Hell

Stockpiling weapons for the purpose of defending home and family may sound like a solid plan. But, is it? In an effort to consider a new perspective on personal protection, please join me on an imaginary time-travel journey to contemplate the following question:

Can the words of Jesus apply in today’s world?

Imagine for a moment that just outside the walls of Jerusalem, we mingle with devout followers of Jesus. The Last Supper has been eaten, Judas departed, and Jesus has withdrawn to pray. Although most disciples sleep, a few of us crouch around a small fire to discuss possible actions to take. All of us realize that danger lurks. Our Master’s life hangs in jeopardy.

As we linger, we hear “Jesus will be arrested. He will be tried and found guilty of blasphemy. We have to do something.” Following a hushed moment, a disciple mutters, “We must arm ourselves. In order to protect our Master and our cause, we must resist. Let every man take up arms and be ready for defense. When the soldiers arrive, we will be ready.”

How might history have unfolded if the disciples had physically fought the soldiers – soldiers, who, in fact came and arrested Jesus? Would fighting have been a “courageous” action or a futile massacre? How would recorded history be different? These questions suggest some interesting considerations about whether the teachings of Jesus can actually apply today.

Many contemporary religious and political leaders advocate taking defensive positions. During our most recent presidential campaign, one of our candidates stated that he currently arms himself to protect his home from ISIL. Many people insist on stocking their homes with weapons in order to protect their property and their lives. Would today’s gun advocates have encouraged the early disciples to arm themselves against the soldiers? If the thought of disciples bearing weapons to save Jesus seems improbable, do today’s similar ideas seem any more plausible? Please consider the following thoughts:

  1. Imagine the outcome if Jesus had instructed followers to fight to the death. Most likely, all disciples would have died in the skirmish and the crucifixion, with all its brutality, would have still have occurred.
  1. History would have recorded a confusing clash between the teachings of Jesus and a sudden attitudinal transformation to harm and kill others. John 18: 10 – 11, claims that after Peter cut off the ear of a soldier, Jesus responded, “Put your sword away.” Can we gain direction from this lesson or is this simply an interesting story about a man who lived a long time ago?
  1. As an ordinary citizen, the idea of pointing a weapon at another human being would require a dramatic shift from love to hate. For me, preparing to fight intruders would equal pure insanity based on fear. Defense belongs to others, trained in the field of protection.

Return with me to the opening imaginary scene. As we anticipate the arrival of soldiers, someone reminds us, “Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. He encouraged us to forgive. He reminded us to trust that God will provide a greater good.”

In contemporary times, “Put your sword away,” often seems out of place. Can the words of Jesus be useful to us in 2017? Do we even have the courage to consider the ideas of this radical Master or would an honest portrayal of Jesus depict Him as a strange social outcast?

I fervently pray that today’s citizens can relate to and apply the teachings of Jesus. He “got” it and he taught an uncomfortable truth. The Course in Miracles states, “Only the fearful believe that defenses protect them, not recognizing that they are caught in an endless chain of attack and defense.”

Replicating the “wild west” does not seem purposeful or pleasant.

Work Cited:  

Book of John. Chapter 18: Verses 10 – 11. “New International Version”. 2016.

Schucman, Helen, W. Thetford. Course in Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace. Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598: 1978.