In John 18, Jesus is arrested and brought before Pilate for questioning. With what I imagine to be a tinge of exasperation and sarcasm in his voice, Pilate asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus, in typical fashion, answers with a question of his own: “Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?”
Now Pilate is openly irritated and retorts, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”
Here’s where Jesus says something really interesting (and again, in typical fashion, doesn’t actually answer the question):
“My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested…”
Isn’t that fascinating? Jesus intimates that if his kingdom did derive its power and authority “from this world,” then his disciples would fight to prevent him from being arrested (and of course we remember that Peter actually did draw his sword and attempt to prevent Jesus’ arrest).
But because Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t “originate from this world,” he isn’t threatened in the slightest by the powers of this world. Therefore he has no need for violence. Nothing ultimately important is threatened by death.
Jesus’ kingdom is dependent upon a power that is completely independent from the power dynamics of this world, and thus violence is done away with as a strategy for affected good in the world.
Ergo, to presume that violence is necessary to bring about goodness is to contradict what Jesus says about the kingdom of God. It is to live as if Jesus’ kingdom was indeed subject to the powers of this world, as if it is a new version of the “same old thing” the world has been producing for millennia.
But Jesus’ kingdom is not from this world. It doesn’t operate by the violence and coercion we are so familiar with.
And this kingdom is real and it is available to us. Like our Lord, we can learn to live in it, derive our life from it, interact with it. The more we do, the more our confidence will grow that we really don’t need to fight, because our flourishing has already been secured in a kingdom that doesn’t originate from this world.
Violence is rendered obsolete! It’s just not necessary anymore, now that the kingdom of God has come. So don’t be afraid. God will become all in all. Nothing can prevent it, not even death.