Jesus’ Teachings on Peace
An Ethic for All Christians? By Paul Anderson
1. The Love Command!
*Jesus commands his followers to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength; and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt.22:37-40; Mk.12:29-31; Lk.10:27).
*The trademark by which Jesus’ followers are known is sacrificial love for others (Jn.13:34-35).
2. “Love (even) Your Enemies!”
*Jesus calls his followers to love even our enemies, and to pray for those who despitefully use us (Matt.5:43-48).
*Even the Gentiles and tax gatherers can return good for good, or evil for evil; Jesus’ followers are called to live by a higher standard.
*This heaps “coals” onto consciences (Ro. 12:14-21).
3. Renounce Vengeance, and Live by a “Third Way.”
*Nonviolent generosity creates new possibilities (Matt.5:38-42).
*When slapped, stand with dignity; turn the other cheek, risking a forehand.
*If a cloak requested, give also your undergarments, exposing the system.
*Carry a load twice the distance requested as a means of seizing the initiative.
4. Our Kingdom is Other!
*Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world – if it were, his disciples would fight to defend it – the truth can never be furthered by force (Jn.18:36-37).
*But we are to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness, and all we truly need will be given us (Matt.6:33).
5. Servanthood, not Domination, is “Success!”
*Jesus’ Kingdom turns things upside down: the first will be last, and the last will be first.
*The Gentiles lord it over their subjects, but not so among Jesus’ followers.
*The one wishing to be first must be the servant of all (Matt.18:4; Mk.9:35; 10:42-45; Lk.22:25-25).
6. “Put away thy sword!”
*Jesus commands his followers to put away their swords (Matt.26:52-53; Lk.22:49-51; Jn.18:11).
*Those wishing to live by the sword will also die by it.
*Peaceable ends require peaceable means, lest the ends be compromised by contradictory means.
7. “Forgive; do not Avenge!”
*Jesus commands his followers to forgive even the undeserving (Matt.18:21-35).
*This is the character of God’s forgivingness, and it is also the kind to be emulated by Jesus’ followers.
*As we forgive, so are we forgiven
8. “Embrace the Cross!”
*Jesus calls for his followers to embrace the cross (Matt.10:38-39; Mk.8:34-38; Jn.12:25-26).
*He who wishes to save his life will lose it, but he who is willing to release his life for the sake of Christ and his way will paradoxically find it.
*Following Jesus may not protect one from persecution – it may provoke it (Matt.5:10-12).
9. “Blessed are the Peacemakers!”
“…for they shall be called ‘the Children of the Most High’” (Matt.5:9).
*To pursue peaceable goals by peaceable means distinguishes the workings of God from the doings of the world (Ja.3:18-4:4).
*Pursuing Peace with all is the way of Holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb.12:14).
10. “Peace I give you, not of this world!”
*Jesus promises his followers that he will bless us with peace – not as the world gives, bolstered by outward symbols of security, but inward peace – that overcomes the world (Jn. 14:25-27).
*Jesus gives us his peace by means of the Holy Spirit; he invites us to believe.
*That is the only way to overcome the world – trust and obey.
Based on “Jesus and Peace” in The Churches Peace Witness, ed. by Marlin Miller and Barbara Nelson Gingerich (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994): 104-30.