Suppose, for a moment, that a political leader, say, the President of the United States, is ready to stand before Congress and the people to declare war. Everyone expects this of him, and have long predicted this would be the content of his speech. Suppose also, that, in this hypothetical situation, everyone feels he will be justified in declaring war and opposing an unjust and evil enemy.
But instead of declaring war, he stands and speaks of peace. And morality. And LOVING the very enemies that everyone believes war should be made upon.
Imagine the surprise, the shock, even the anger, of many of those who heard this speech.
This is, in fact, exactly what happened when Jesus of Nazareth ascended a small hill to preach his Sermon on the Mount to thousands who had gathered there to hear him – a sermon in which he laid out his system of morality and the doctrines by which we are to live according to God’s Righteousness, and by which God’s peaceable Kingdom would come.
Many of his time, we are told, expected him to use his word to rally an army to his side and lead a violent rebellion against the Roman Imperial occupiers. This, they said, was the role of the Jewish “Messiah” many saw hidden in the Hebrew Scriptures. No doubt, the party called the Zealots were angered and disappointed that Jesus wouldn’t lead this violent revolt.
They believed this Messiah would then established his kingdom in imitation of the Kingdom of David, and believed that this Jesus would be the One who would establish his Kingdom and subdue all of the enemies of the Jews by force.
Instead, Jesus spoke in this sermon and in his ensuing ministry, of establishing a Kingdom “not of this earth,” a Kingdom of God in which all who suffered, all who thirsted and hungered for Righteousness, all who were meek and poor of spirit, all who were ill-clothed, ill-fed and in need of comfort would be served and comforted by God’s people.
Instead of hating one’s enemies, he said we must love them, pray for them, bless them, and go an extra mile if ordered by them to march one.
And to top it all off, this spiritual kingdom was come ON THIS EARTH by the Good Works of God’s people, those who had repented of their sins and who now served God as New People – God’s People – imitating the perfect example of Jesus, who was sent by God to not only proclaim God’s Kingdom but to live out the Kingdom in every way, and by so doing, prove for all time that we can, indeed, obey God.
There are some today who are still disappointed by Jesus, and say he must have meant something else, that he STILL will come and declare war on the wicked, and rule as an Imperial Dictator from Jerusalem. Or, they say, his words really have no meaning because he, being God in disguise (as they assert) clearly didn’t REALLY mean it when he said “follow me,” and “Obey these teachings of mine.”
But to view Jesus as having somehow failed, as some kind of imposter and not as a man who was Adopted, Chosen, Anointed and Sent by God to “go about doing good” and preaching that we must “go, and do likewise,” is to reject Jesus as the Christ, and to ignore the Good and Beneficial Gospel message he preached so clearly.