3. Is God violent?
In my previous blog I looked at violence in the Old Testament. Now I want to look at violence in the New Testament. Jesus—God incarnate—arrives and begins teaching about God in a seemingly new way. It’s no longer “hate your enemies” but rather “love your enemies”. Is someone mistreating you? Let them do so even more. Is this the same God from the Old Testament? Many were wondering then, and some still wonder today.
An interesting story is recorded in John 8. A woman has been caught in the act of adultery, and is brought before Jesus by some religious leaders. According to the Law, persons who commit adultery must be stoned. They ask Jesus what he would have them do. After a while and some more prodding, Jesus says “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) All the religious leaders gradually left without throwing any stones (Jesus didn’t throw a stone at her either.) Overall Jesus was non-violent (thought he did clear out the market from the temple courts) and didn’t teach violence.
The Jews were expecting a Messiah along the lines of Judas Maccabeus, a person who would violently overthrow any foreign government and establish Israel as a powerful nation. Jesus however was in the line of Melchizedek, King of Salem (peace) (Hebrews 7:1-3). Because he wasn’t what they were expecting, many of their leaders didn’t believe him and brought him to a violent end (or so they thought).
In my next blog I’ll look at this question in the present day and write a conclusion.