The following is a true story that clearly demonstrates the essence of the gospel in nonviolence. I wept in thankfulness the first time I read this. It is an incident cited by Kenneth Bailey[i] involving King Hussein of Jordan, and confirmed through high-ranking American intelligence officers stationed in Jordan at the time this event took place:
One night in the early 1980’s, the king was informed by his security police that a group of about seventy-five Jordanian army officers were at that very moment meeting in a nearby barracks, plotting a military overthrow of the kingdom. The security officers requested permission to surround the barracks and arrest the plotters. After a somber pause the king refused and said, “Bring me a small helicopter.” A helicopter was brought. The king climbed in with the pilot and himself and flew to the barracks and landed on its flat roof. The king told the pilot, “If you hear gun shots, fly away at once without me.”
Unarmed, the king then walked down two flights of stairs and suddenly appeared in the room where the plotters were meeting and quietly said to them:
“Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that you are meeting here tonight to finalize your plans to overthrow the government, take over the country, and install a military dictator. If you do this, the army will break apart and the country will be plunged into civil war. Tens of thousand of innocent people will die. There is no need for this. Here I am! Kill me and proceed. That way only one man will die.”
After a moment of stunned silence, the rebels as one, rushed forward to kiss the king’s hand and feet and pledge loyalty to him for life.
King Hussein opted for total vulnerability at the hands of those who wanted him dead. He chose nonviolence, up to the point of his own death, for the country he loved, and for those who wanted him dead.
My friends, if a son of Adam can demonstrate the gospel so clearly in nonviolence, why do we attribute less to the Son of Man and His Father? Why do we need a vengeful and retributive God who somehow endorses violence to either “satisfy his holiness and justice” or some other perceived requirement in His nature? No. In the atonement, God our Father, has in Christ, reconciled the world to Himself. The One has absorbed the violence of the many, for the sake of the many, and in so doing, renounced the efficacy of violence forever, and the many fall down and worship Him when they see it for what it is.
Oh, that we would see it and make this kind of love known to others. This is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
[i] Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008, page 418.
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