Nonviolent Jesus: Humility, Simplicity, and Charity

Jesus often modeled humility, not elevating himself or speaking only of his rank and status. Rather, he did the exact opposite. In Luke 22:27, he teaches “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Here he shows the position he has chosen to take in obedience to his Father, and it is a humble one. He emphasized this point over and over again, although one of the most poignant moments is described in John 13:5, “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”

It was not only in how he served that he was humble, but also the company he kept. Many expected the Messiah to be the kind of Warrior King they would recognize, a ruler that kept company with other rulers, great leaders and warriors. The Pharisees expected cleanliness which meant not interacting with those who were considered unclean; but that was not Jesus’ way. In Matthew 9:10-11, we see that “… as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” He proved through word and action that he was going to take a role in the world that was ‘from below.’

He also modeled simplicity. Luke 9:58 tells us, “And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” He was not caught up in belongings, in building a house that kept him in one place. He instead kept his possessions few and traveled to spread his gospel. This was an expectation he had not only for himself but for his followers when he sent them out to preach the Word and rely on those along the way to care for them.

But his simplicity is not just in His belongings but in His teachings. He taught in a way that invited the new person in but gave depth and greater relationship to the believer. Jesus was both high invitation and high challenge, but he kept much of what he said simple. When asked what commandment was most important, his response was both simple and the foundation of his actions. Matthew 22:37-39: “Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”

Lastly, Jesus constantly modeled charity. I often feel like, when reading the Bible, Jesus taught more on charity and love than any other aspect. I wonder if this is because if we do these things we cannot help but have our hearts changed by it and come more in alignment with God. Perhaps this is why Jesus says in Matthew 25:35, “’For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.” 1 John 3:17 asks, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? “ This is the question that Jesus constantly tries to get people to ask themselves. Jesus is charitable through his works, his time, his healing and ultimately through his sacrifice. Jesus is all things charitable.

By looking at the parables and examples that Jesus himself provides, we begin to see a type of leader form; a servant leader. By emulating him and these virtues, I would argue that if applied as Jesus meant them to be, ordinary humans would unintentionally become nonviolent. This is because you cannot apply all the things He called us to do and simultaneously behave in a violent nature. They are at two ends of a spectrum. Jesus was at his core nonviolent; he allowed himself to be sacrificed for others. That being said, it is best to pay attention to any violent inclination or tendencies to condone violence so we can understand why and address the discrepancy.

 

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A Prayer in Struggle

My Lord and Redeemer, Creator of all that is and will be, I praise you and give thanks for your goodness and grace.

When I feel shame and anger at myself as I fall short, I pray you remind me to feel humbled instead. To give thanks for the thorns in my side, because it reminds me I am saved only through your grace and that your power works best in my weakness.

I pray in these moments I am reminded of how deep your love is and how generous your sacrifice was; bless me with an inspiration to grow deeper in relationship with you and obedience to you.

Align my heart with yours, Lord.