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Does the violence on the cross of Jesus lead to peace?

1. Introduction

Peace is the absence of fighting and war. It is security, wellbeing and harmony[1]. Absence of violence and security seems to be a contradiction. Therefore we will investigate the possibility that the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross will result in a process to peace.

2. Peace at the day of Jesus´ death in Islam

According to the Qur’an, one of Allah’s names is “As-Salam” and this also an attribute for Jesus Christ in the Qur’an:
“And Salam (peace) be on him (Jesus) the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life.” (Qur’an 19:15)
For many Muslims the Qur’an verses about Jesus have been a great inspiration to spiritual life and inner struggle. For example, the Sufi masters in Islam have a very high opinion about the breath of Jesus in relation with life and death [2]:

The breath of Christ
That brought the dead to life
Was, but one breath
Of My Divine Breath,
The nurturer of Spirits

Also in Shiite Islam there is a place for spiritual inspiration by suffering because of the martyrdom of Husayn. This paves the way for affinity with the suffering of Jesus Christ [3]. Muslims may deny that Jesus died on the cross, however many Muslims don’t deny that Jesus has a general redemptive role in human history [4]. Therefore, Jesus Christ will be for many Muslims a mysterious person with extreme dignity. Some Muslims are able to be build up in faith by the violence done to Jesus and his power to absorb it and transform it into peace.

3. Peace at cross of Jesus Christ in the Gospel

The way of Jesus to absorb violence is self-sacrifice and forgiveness: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). By overcoming such an extreme suffering, Jesus showed that he has an extraordinary nature. Before the execution of Jesus Christ on the cross, the Roman ruler Pilate asked him if he has a high an powerful position such as a king. Jesus replied: “My kingdom is not recognized in this world. If it were from this world, My servants would be fighting for my freedom” (John 18:36). This means that Jesus Christ is king and his royal power and state cannot be attacked by earthly force, fleshly ordinances, physical energies, material wealth, or armies of world powers. Therefore Jesus absorbs hate and destroys evil powers by goodness, truth and beauty.

4. Moral practices of Jesus Christ

Only by personal suffering, it is possible for a disciple of Jesus Christ to share in the ministries of the kingdom of God. Therefore Jesus said: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:39). The program to overcome inner struggle and spiritual progress is through personal suffering as written in Matthew 5:9-12:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The suffering on the cross, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the good news for all living souls that the Supreme Power of heaven and earth is filled with goodness and that peace is an attribute of eternal life. The extraordinary power of Jesus Christ becomes even greater after Jesus Christ resurrected, as one of his disciples noticed: "My Lord and my God!" . Therefore Jesus Christ is the image of the Living God (Colossians 1:15).
Therefore the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not peace as a social program, but as inner peace that can be expressed as a true relation with God [5].

5. Conclusion

It is not necessary to punish, to kill or to destroy to make peace. By faith in the message of forgiveness and peace of Jesus Christ and trust that he will complete the character and spiritual development in us, we are able to defeat evil. There is no other program for world peace other than righteousness, which starts in your own heart. Jesus said: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).


Notes:

1. Peace, in: Hans Dieter Betz et al (ed), Religion Past & Present, Encyclopedia of Theology and Religion, Volume IX, A-Bhu, Brill, Leiden 2011, 658.
2. Fakh ud-din Iraqi, in : Javad Nurbakhsh, Jesus in the Eyes of the Sufis, Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi, London, 1982, 52.
3. Oddbjorn Leirvik, Images of Jesus Christ in Islam, Continuum, London, 2010, 80.
4. Mahmoud Ayoub, Towards an Islamic Christology, II: The Death of Jesus, Reality or Delusion, The Muslim World, XXX, no 2, 94.
5. Peace, in: Hans Dieter Betz et al (ed), Religion Past & Present, Encyclopedia of Theology and Religion, Volume IX, A-Bhu, Brill, Leiden 2011, 658.

Qur'an 19:33: Is Jesus peace?