Many Christian sects like to state that Jesus was a pacifist. He taught us to love others and sacrifice oneself for our friends. He turned the other cheek to the Roman soldiers who beat and abused him. He stayed silent when accused by the Jewish leaders. He told Peter to put away his sword when he defended Jesus at his arrest. He was never violent. Instead, he promoted peace with everyone. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Why?” Why did Jesus encourage love and peace? Why did He live a pacifist lifestyle? There is a good reason why Jesus taught, lived, and promoted the pacifist lifestyle. However, there is something that many people miss when reading and understanding Christ Jesus. He warned of impending judgment that would not go well for those who did not follow and believe in the Son of God.
Jesus taught love. He lived love. He loved the sinner, the disabled, the demon-possessed, the sick, and many others. He lived his life in service to humanity. He taught us to love each other and to serve each other. He was the perfect example of what it looked like to live a life utterly devoted to God. He chose to submit to His Father’s authority and do his works. Everything Jesus did is what the Israelites were called to do in the Law. Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly. He loved the world because he knew why the world was suffering.
The disciple John wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18). We tend to read verses 16 and 17 but neglect verse 18. Those who do not believe are condemned already. The purpose of Christ’s life was to bring the world to Him. He did not come to condemn the world but to save it. However, condemnation remains on everyone who chooses to reject Jesus.
Condemnation has multiple definitions in the bible, but in the circumstance of John 17 and 18, it refers to judgment. This means that judgment remains on everyone who chooses to reject Jesus Christ. The purpose of Jesus’s life was to open the door to salvation and a whole relationship with God the Father through His Son. Jesus didn’t need to live an aggressive life, as that would have been counterintuitive to the purpose of His life. The truth is that Jesus knew what would happen to those who chose to reject Him. His Father was clear about the consequences of not listening to and abiding in His Son.
As Jesus sent out his disciples, He said this regarding those who reject Him:
“But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects Him who sent me.” (Luke 10:10-16)
Jesus was clear of the impending doom of those who rejected Him. Judgment awaits all those who reject Him. You see, Jesus didn’t need to Judge the world. The world will determine if they are judged based on their acceptance and belief in Christ Jesus. Paul talks about the day of God’s wrath:
“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will repay each person according to what they have done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good, seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:5-11)
The Apostle Peter also shares what is awaiting those who choose disobedience rather than obedience to the Father:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.” (2 Peter 2:1-10)
Jesus’s life was about giving us an example by which to live. He was a pacifist in his interactions with the world because He lived the way God intended for us to live. As Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). Jesus knew that his life was meant to be everything we could never be. The ways of this world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life – create a world focused on selfishness, division, and sin. Jesus was beyond all of this. He chose to do what His Father commanded. He walked with His Father, obeyed Him to the point of death, and never wavered in his commitment to His Father’s commands. Even when sin scratched at the door, Jesus denied sin its power.
If the first commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” then Jesus’ lived it to its fullest. Love is not aggressive. Love is not controlling. Love is not angry. Paul stated what love really is, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). Jesus was the perfect example of love.
However, there comes a point in every person’s life where we will stand before the throne of God and be held accountable for everything we have done. For those who believe in Christ Jesus and seek to follow His example, judgment is passed over, as that judgment was already placed on Christ Jesus. But for those who reject Christ Jesus, the wrath of God will be poured out on them.
You might say, “That’s not very loving,” and you would be right; it would be just. We are all given the opportunity to believe and follow Jesus. We are all given the opportunity to submit to the authority of YHWH. God gives each one of us a chance. His love is patient and kind. However, if we deny Him, we have chosen condemnation and judgment.
It’s like telling a child not to touch a hot stove. The child can listen and submit to the parent’s authority and follow the instructions, or they can ignore the instruction and touch the hot stove. Now, did the parent or the child choose the punishment? If the child refuses to listen and obey what they have been told, they have chosen their judgment – burning their hands. The parent showed love by warning and explaining the consequences of what would happen if the child touched a hot stove – love always protects and is not self-seeking. The parent then allowed the child to make their own choices. A child is saved from pain when they listen and obey their parents’ instructions. The same goes for the world and God’s commandments and precepts.
We have been warned of what will happen if we choose to continue to listen and follow the ways of this world. We have been told that we will select the wrath and judgment of God if we deny Jesus and choose not to follow and believe in Him. God’s love was shown in His Son. God’s wrath is saved for those who choose it.
Choose wisely this day whom you will serve!