Last week’s commentary about the Merry Christmas “culture war” was a break from politics per se, and the response to it ran the gamut. Some thought I was wrong, while others agreed; some flat missed the point, and others thought it sounded “kind of scary.” So, continuing my “seasonal break,” I can’t wait to see what you think about my weapon-wielding baby Jesus.
Of course, baby Jesus didn’t have a weapon lying beside Him in the feeding trough where His mother, Mary, laid Him. And we have no record of Him playing with weapons as a boy. In fact, we’re told that when He was arrested as an adult—Easter on the calendar—He told Peter to put away the sword that Peter had used to cut off one of the captor’s ear and then Jesus healed the man’s ear.
Sounds just like the baby-Jesus-turned-man that Isaiah prophesied about with these words:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called . . . Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6–7 NKJV).
And angels announced His birth by singing about “peace on earth.”
Bearing the Sword
Sounds a lot better than the “Old Testament God” to whom a song of praise was lifted with these words:
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples; To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute on them the written judgment—This honor have all His saints. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 149:6–9 NKJV).
That such words are in the Bible, let alone a Hebrew worship hymn, probably horrifies and embarrasses a lot of Christians.
But let’s hold our Andy Stanley horses a minute before we throw out the so-called war-mongering God of the Old Testament. The grown-up baby Jesus said this,
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household’” (Matthew 10:34–36 NKJV).
What? Did Jesus lose His mind on this one? He actually said He came to bring a sword?! Peter, it seems, is owed an apology! But let’s back up a bit and think this apparent contradiction through.
We All Want Wrongdoers Brought to Justice
I bet I’m not the only one who would be willing to say this:
If I lived under oppressive, tyrannical leaders who thought they were God and could wield their authority over my family and me and over my nation in any capricious manner they wanted, then I would be delighted if God raised up someone or some group of people to bring a final end to such unrepentant leaders.
In fact, I suspect the political liberals who have wished death on President Trump do so for this very same reason.
Identifying the Wrongdoer and the Consequences
Now, let’s hold onto this thought about the tyrant so described while we read God’s assessment of all of us in our natural condition. “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. There is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10–12, quoting from various Psalms). Well, that’s not very complimentary!
But if that’s who we naturally are in God’s opinion (and who am I to quibble with God?), then His assessment of the consequences shouldn’t be very surprising and it’s not very hopeful. “The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:8).
In other words, on our own and as we are, peace will always escape us, but it’s at this very point that the birth of Jesus is good news for those who believe God’s assessment of us!
In a way too mysterious for finite minds to comprehend fully, the second of the three persons who make up the one essence of being that is God takes on a second nature—a human one—and comes among us through the womb of Mary.
Through the sinless life of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, Jesus introduces into this world a new kind of humanity. He bodily ascends to Heaven as the first of this “new kind” of humanity and sits at the right hand of the first person within the Trinitarian God, the Father. The government of the entire human race is now on shoulders of this new person, Jesus, as Isaiah said it would be.
Then, at the direction of the Father, the third person within the Trinitarian God, the Holy Spirit, comes to bring the now eternal life of the resurrected Jesus to others who then become a part of this new human race, those not born of flesh and blood, but by the Spirit (John 1:13).
This story is truly fantastic; it makes sense of reality to those for whom this new life becomes real. But it’s mere fantasy to those who find God’s assessment of them only fighting words. Thus, the members of the “old race” are bound to be in constant conflict with the members of the “new race,” because they believe different things and love and follow different leaders.
That conflict will not end peaceably until the Word of the Prince of Peace prevails over us by means of that Word which “is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” in Psalm 149. And may that Living Word bring you peace this Christmas!
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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