We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Friday, October 18, 2013


By Herb Montgomery
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” —Jesus (Luke 13:34–35)

In part 3 we looked at Jesus’ call to Israel to repent of her “eye for an eye” way of relating to the Romans, and to embrace the path of nonviolent, enemy embracing love that would end in life through the narrow gate of a nonviolent revolution.

The Hebrew (and remember, Jesus was a Hebrew) word for repentance is teshuvah which is defined as “turning.” But what does this mean in the context of Jesus’ use of this concept? In short, Jesus was calling them to repent/turn from their violence to nonviolence.

The verb form of teshuvahis shuv, which actually means to“return.” Originally it held the meaning “to return to God from exile,” from the place of alienation and separation back to God. Jesus used it to refer to a return from the path of annihilation, (the way of violence), to God and God’s path of nonviolent, enemy-embracing love, or the way of peace.
It is a returning from Babylon (or in Jesus day, Rome) to the fulfillment of all the promises made to Israel. 

Jesus clearly taught that the repentance he was speaking of was not just simply a stricter observance of the Torah while simultaneously remaining on the way of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome (i.e. - violent warfare and militaristic revolutions overturning one kingdom after another). Instead, repentance for Jesus meant leaving the path of violence and entering the path of forgiveness and love for our enemies (see Matthew 7:12–14). 

The context of our passage here in part 4 is that Jesus was about to return to Jerusalem: 

“At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’”(Luke 13:31–33)

Then Jesus stops and muses: 

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Luke 13:34–35)

Jesus, in a rare moment of clarity, through a momentary window, lets us into His heart to see what is transpiring within Him. Jesus steps into the role of a mother hen, as Mother God, and weeps over Jerusalem’s rejection of both Himself and the way out that He has been offering to them. 

How fitting that Jesus would take up the image of a mother hen, covering her baby chicks with her wings, protecting them from the circling predatory eagle in the sky above, which is actually a very fitting description, of Rome as Rome’s national symbol was the predatory eagle! 

Yet Jerusalem’s hope was fading. For three years Jesus had been holding on to the hope of nonviolent transformation through a divine love of enemies offered as an alternative to way of violence which Jesus knew would only end in Jerusalem’s destruction by the eagle of Rome. 

God as Mother Hen was now leaving Jerusalem to her own devices, yet this Mother Hen was very willing to return at any moment if Jerusalem would simply turn from this path of violent retaliation, this path of placing her hope in a militaristic messiah, and instead respond to this coming to them by God in the form of a Prophet of Nonviolence something that was “blessed.” 

At this stage, Jesus and His Kingdom of nonviolent enemy love was not looked upon as “blessed,” but rather as dangerous. We see this most clearly in the words of Caiaphas:
"You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have [through following this man’s naïve and impractical plan of noniovlent noncooperation] the whole nation destroyed. (John 11:50)

As Jesus said, three days after his reference to God’s“Mother Hen” withdrawal, he would re-enter Jerusalem. Would the people of Jerusalem repent and call him “blessed”? Would they receive their nonviolent Messiah riding on a donkey rather than a militaristic Messiah entering Jerusalem on a steed? Or would they take another step towards their own annihilation and ruin? 

As He rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, all of His disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” (Luke 19:36–38, emphasis)

Would Jerusalem join the disciples in calling Him blessed? I’m afraid that’s not what happened. Instead: 

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (Luke 19:39–40, emphasis mine)

Where does this leave us today? 

I’m convinced, both within Christianity and outside of it as well, that Jesus is still longing and waiting with deep expectation for a people who, like the early Jesus movement itself, would say, “Blessed is this this prophet bearing the message of hope for a world faced with annihilation! Blessed is the prophet that has come, giving us a way to heal broken people, to heal broken relationships, and ultimately the way that leads to the healing of the nations and the healing of the world!” 

Lord Irwin is reported as having asked Gandhi at one point what he thought would solve the problems between Great Britain and India. Gandhi picked up a Bible, opened it to the fifth chapter of Matthew, and said, “When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries, but those of the whole world.” 

Blessed is He who comes with the way of life, the way of loving and forgiving our enemies; of restorative justice (rather than retributive justice) expressing itself in a nonviolent Kingdom revolution. This way of peace, with a view toward redeeming, restoring, and reclaiming, is the way to heal the world. 

The thought that it is too late for this world is of demonic origin. There is still hope, but the hope today is the same as it was with Jerusalem previous to 70 A.D. Wherever we are right now, the last great hope for humanity is calling this Prophet, who came to us two thousand years ago with the picture of a nonviolent, enemy-embracing, enemy-forgiving, enemy-loving God, inviting us to step through the narrow gate onto this narrow path of this same nonviolence—“blessed.” 

Wherever this finds you, keep living in love, loving like the nonviolent Christ, putting on display the beauty of the God we see in this Christ until the only world that remains is a world where nonviolent love reigns.

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