Have you ever asked yourself, “How many people march against or for something?” Maybe you have marched in a protest against or for something. Are they bad? Do they have a place? When should we march for something? These questions have plagued my mind for quite some time. I think the answer to these questions are not simple but easy. The answers may complicate things, but they clear up the vision of perspective.
My pastor once asked, “Did Jesus ever lead a political protest?” As we look at the life of Christ, we must ask ourselves what are we to do with political protests? One story that comes to mind was just before Jesus was arrested. Jesus had told His disciples that He was going to die and be betrayed by someone they all knew. All of them would scatter and leave Him as He was tried and killed.
Judas approached Jesus, kissed him and stepped aside for Jesus to be arrested. At that moment, Peter drew his sword and cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Jesus’ response was so calming yet profound. He said, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Think for a moment what Jesus was saying. First, Jesus sets the perspective for Peter. He tells him that people who use weapons to make their point will die by the same weapon. How many people have lived like this? How many have committed suicide for the sake of what they believe? How many people think they can force Biblical knowledge to those who don’t want to hear it? When we use force to proclaim the Gospel, we do exactly as Peter did. We become angry. We become obstinate. We become violent.
This is one reason Christianity gets such bad press. Many people think it’s okay to protest by becoming violent. Remember the crusades in Europe? Christianity was forced upon everyone and those who did not bow the knee were put to death. Remember the abortion clinic attacks? Many so-called Christians attacked doctors and clinics thinking they were doing the right thing. Today, we have churches that protest everything from funerals to Afghanistan. They are putting Christianity in a bad light. We are not called to forcefully protest. Why? Jesus answers this in His next statement.
Jesus then says, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Did you ever ask yourself, how many are a legion? In the Roman army, a legion comprised of 3000 to 6000 soldiers. In a practical sense, Jesus said, “Don’t you think I can ask for 36,000 to 72,000 angels to come by my side?” According to Scripture a single angel can kill thousands of troops with a singe swipe of their sword. But that was not the real point that Jesus was trying to state. Jesus was relaying that if He felt it was the right direction, He could ask His Father and His Father would rescue Him. That’s it. Jesus completely relied on God the Father. Whether in life or death, Jesus never doubted what His mission really was. He knew He was meant to die. He told His disciples this very message, yet one of them started a protest.
Finally, Jesus said that Scriptures said it must happen in this way. Jesus was simply teaching that the Scriptures were true and right. It is a reliable source of truth. It was infallible. It was perfect just as He was perfect. Scripture is not just a book of stories. It is a composition of books that tell what happened, what will happen and how to handle life correctly. Jesus’ last words to His disciples was “Listen to my word. Know my word and you’ll know me.” How sad that today, we rely on technology to give to us what we think we need. We think we need to stand up for everything. We think that listening to others teach is more important than reading the Scripture’s ourselves.
Did Jesus ever lead a political protest? No. Jesus spoke against leading the protest. Jesus commanded us to stand up for what is right and just, but He also said to lead quite and peaceful lives. How do we do that? How can we balance what to stand up for and what to be quiet about. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Each one of us needs to be able to answer that question individually. For me, I will speak up about things simply because I have been given the right to do so. I have been given the right to speak out against certain sinful acts. However, I have not been given the right to be mean or ugly about it. I have not been given the right to be angry about what the rest of the world does. Jesus commanded all Christians to love our enemies. He never taught to hate. We are to love others just as Jesus loves them.
By loving others as Christ loves them, the Gospel is preached through our words and actions. By loving those who hate us, we show the world we are different. In light of this series, I felt compelled to share that Jesus never led a political party, but he lead sheep into the greatest pasture of all time, His kingdom. Now we need to be the shephard helpers that lead other sheep to Him. When we love people that is what we do.
Remember, we may have rights given to us by our government, but the greatest freedom of all is being the slave to Christ. God bless and encourage someone today.