What Do Jesus’ Actions Reveal about Violence?

What Do Jesus’ Actions Reveal about Violence? August 5, 2019

One can infer from one’s actions one’s teachings. Better yet, one’s actions embody one’s teachings. And even better yet, one’s actions are one’s teachings — it’s called Lived Theology. Too often we assume the primary thing is one’s ideas or one’s theology or one’s teachings, and actions are but applications of one’s theology. That’s not right: one’s life is one’s teachings.

What do you think Jesus’ actions (see below) say about Jesus’ beliefs about violence?

Ron Sider, in If Jesus is Lord , devotes a chapter to Jesus’ actions. He examines Jesus’s temptations, his refusal to become king, his triumphal entry, and his refusal of angels to defend in Gethsemane.

[SMcK: if you want to study Jesus’ actions I recommend two books: Ben Meyer, The Aims of Jesus, and E.P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism.]

Sider thinks the temptations, though possibly suggesting anti-violent-messiah offers, are not clearly suggesting that. So, move on.

In John 6:14-15 we know some wanted to make him king. They think he is Messiah. This means a violent revolution for the masses of Galilee. Jesus rejects the offer.

Triumphal entry. Intense messianic hope is part of the narrative’s context and scene. He stages an overt messianic act. On a donkey. Humility. A peaceful Messiah.

Refusing to call for angel help.  He could end the violence against him with one prayer request. He refuses, he submits, and violence is done to him.


By themselves, these actions of Jesus would not be enough to say with certainty that Jesus clearly rejected all violence. But the actions we have explored clearly do not affirm violence. For more clarity on what Jesus intended to teach on our topic, we turn in the next two chapters to a careful examination of his relevant teaching.

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