What would Jesus do?

By Joseph Farah

As America nears military action against Iraq, some are suggesting that an attack of this type is somehow contrary to the words and deeds of Jesus.

Many modern Christians seem to believe Jesus was some kind of pacifist. This is not true – not even close.

As usual, those who subscribe to this notion that Jesus was a pacifist do so largely based on one New Testament scriptural reference – Matthew 5:38-39, the famous statement in which He suggests when struck in the face by an assailant to “turn the other cheek.”

Yet, if Jesus is truly God, as Christians believe, one needs to examine the context of this statement, as well as the entire body of God’s word to draw any conclusions as to whether self-defense by individuals and nations is a legitimate course of action.

Often, the very same people who hang so much significance on turning the other cheek fail to absorb the significance of the entire chapter. Some Christians like to pretend that Jesus somehow broke with the traditions of the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Jesus Himself explains in this same chapter.

In Matthew 5: 17-20, Jesus is recorded explaining: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

In other words, Jesus says He is the embodiment of the law that preceded His earthly incarnation as a mortal. Far from rejecting or overturning the law, He came to earth to fulfill it. Likewise, He provided man with an escape from its condemnation through His substitutionary sacrifice, and most of this chapter illustrates just why we need Him. None of us could live up to the letter of the law, let alone the spirit of it. That’s what Jesus is saying. And He came to offer Himself – His own life, His own pain, His own blood – to give us a second chance.

Moving to the Gospel of John, we learn that Jesus is eternal. He always was and He always will be. He made the world and the universe. He is one with the Father. So, all of the commandments of God, as we know them, in what Christians call “the Old Testament,” are likewise the commandments of Jesus. He didn’t come to overturn them. He came to fulfill them.

Read the Book of Judges and you will find that God told the Jews to utterly destroy entire unrighteous nations so that they could occupy the Promised Land. When the Jews failed to do this, they paid a heavy price. In Genesis, God Himself destroys Sodom and Gomorrah because of immorality. Throughout the Old Testament, we witness God destroying unrighteous men and ordering unrighteous men destroyed. Keep in mind, also, we are told in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, that means Jesus destroyed unrighteous men and ordered unrighteous men destroyed.

Further, in the Old Testament, we see in I Samuel 25:13 that all men were to be armed with swords – the most advanced weapon of the time. In Judges 5:8, we are given a picture of a foolish nation that chooses new gods and to disarm.
“Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight,” David writes in Psalms 144:1.

Even in the New Testament, in Luke 22:36, Jesus commands His disciples to buy swords and strap them on: “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

The Bible is a book of war – a spiritual war raging in Heaven and on Earth. It is not a manual for pacifism.