What Have We Learned?
Today marks 75 years since the Wehrmacht invaded Poland, triggering the worst war in human history. Two years has also passed since I recoiled in horror at the wishes of some that America should trigger a worse cataclysm. Now the world is faced with much stranger assertions:
Retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, now the Family Research Council’s executive vice president, says the Son of God will be armed with an AR-15 assault rifle when he returns, in a speech at the Pro-Family Legislators Conference in Dallas.
“[Jesus is] coming back as a warrior, carrying a sword,” Boykin said. “And I believe now, I’ve checked this out — I believe that sword he’ll be carryin’ when he comes back is an AR-15.”
These rantings have led to some bizarre depictions of the Christian Messiah…
…and would have produced a strange parody if Michael D’Antuono hadn’t already beaten Retired Gen. Boykin to the punch:
I would find this back-and-forth amusing if it wasn’t also so terrifying. The United States of America has “Guns for Jesus” and “Second Amendment Pastors” cropping up, who almost certainly would agree with the stipulations Boykin has made:
According to the audio, Boykin continued: “When he said to his disciples, ‘Now, if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’ I know, everybody says, well, that was a metaphor. It was not a metaphor!”
“[T]he sword today is the AR-15. If you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one; it’s biblical.”
There actually are recordings of Boykin uttering such nonsense. Why nonsense? I’ll get to that in a minute. First, these “holy” warriors need to start walking…
I don’t really want to wade into this biblical furor, but it is too easy to demonstrate that weapons and Jesus Christ don’t mix:
21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;… (1 Peter 2:21-22)
Christians of all stripes claim to follow the Word, but Christ’s actions speak far louder. I am naturally referring to Gethsemane:
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
5 They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8 Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:1-11)
Malchus, the man Peter strikes and severs an ear before Christ could stay his disciple’s hand. The very fact that modern readers (like Boykin) would confuse Christ’s command to buy swords as mentioned in Luke 22 as being relevant to anyone other than a dozen men in Jerusalem two millennia ago is hilarious. The high priest’s servant is also mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, but Luke shows Jesus Christ’s most shocking opinion towards violence:
Supplies for the Road
35 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”
So they said, “Nothing.”
36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’[d] For the things concerning Me have an end.”
38 So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”
And He said to them, “It is enough.”
The Prayer in the Garden
39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[e]
45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. 46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane
47 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?
49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. (Luke 22:35-51)
No, Luke 22:36 wasn’t a metaphor–Christ specifically ensured Peter was armed so he could heal Malchus’s ear. Christ’s final act as a free man was to deny the sword and heal a victim of violence (a man severely injured at the hand of the disciple who would become the Church’s first pope).
This was also the last act Christ performed before begin arrested, bound, and crucified. It takes great courage to stay one’s hand; may humanity have the strength and fortitude to never again precipitate a World War.