Previously, I said we must read the parable of the ten virgins in light of the Israel-Hamas conflict. I said we must expect and prepare for hardship.
I said that though apartheid is Israel’s avowed national policy, many Arabs in Israel work as lawmakers, doctors, and pharmacists; and some serve in the Israeli Defence Force. I said that the Abbas government in the West Bank has disavowed violence while the Haniyeh government in Gaza has vowed to use violence to drive Jews out of Israel.
To keep it short, I didn’t spell out what actions churches or Christians could take. Two readers were disappointed. They asked me, “how should we prepare?” I will respond in several articles.
I begin with the teaching of Jesus. He taught in occupied territory. He had no military weapons. He trained no soldiers. At times, he fled when there was a chance he might be confronted by soldiers. Caesar could have asked of him what Stalin asked a Pope: “how many tanks does he have?”
What did Jesus teach? Walter Wink (d. 2012), pastor, theologian, teacher, peace-activist, used the label “Third Way” to characterize Jesus’ teaching. In 2003, he wrote a small book titled “Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way.” “Third Way” because it’s neither fight nor flight, our two “natural” responses. I think the blurb on the book’s back cover is accurate. It’s a collection of “brief, brilliant treatments of vital aspects of faith and life.”
Wink begins by describing conflicts in the world and how they have been addressed across the globe – from Cuba, to India, to the Philippines, and the USA. Like all prophets who see true worshippers of God as His means for peace-making, he moves on to discuss the failures of churches.
He says, “most Christians … would like the system to change without having to be involved in changing it.” He challenges proponents of superficial, cosmetic peace, peace without justice. He says:
“Reduction of conflict by means of a phony “peace” is not a Christian goal. Justice is the goal, and that may require an acceleration of conflict as a necessary stage in forcing those in power to bring about genuine change.” (Page 5)
Living post-Bonhoeffer, the WWII German pastor who worked to kill Hitler, Wink warns against being wedded to non-violence. He says choosing to use only non-violence amounts to giving in to “a satanic temptation to die with clean hands and a dirty heart.” He warns us it’s too easy to use non-violence as “a mask for cowardice.”
In simple words, Wink explains just how radical Jesus’ teaching is. He tells us how Jesus’ hearers would have laughed admiringly when he taught them how they should respond when slapped, when a debt-collector took a garment they had pledged, and when a soldier asked them to carry his heavy pack (Matthew 5:39-42).
Wink reminds readers of wrong interpretations of those passages, interpretations by slave-owners and kings who said Jesus was teaching the oppressed to be door mats, to cheerfully accept every abuse.
Wink says that actually, Jesus’ teaching is like jujitsu, a martial arts technique you can use to injure or kill your opponent before he injures or kills you. Jujitsu, the art of using the oppressor’s “strengths” against himself. The jujitsu Jesus teaches is the art of exposure, of humiliation.
Turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)
In Jesus’ day, the left hand was reserved for unclean tasks. Even pointing with the left hand was forbidden. In the Qumran community, it was an offence which carried a heavy penalty.
Slapping was done with the back of the right hand. This is why the slap lands on the right cheek. A slap was delivered to humiliate the victim, to show his inferior social status. A slap delivered to an inferior didn’t carry any penalty. But a slap delivered to an equal was punished with a massive fine. If the victim turns the other cheek and ‘invites’ another slap, the slapper cannot deliver it, because his hand is blocked by the victim’s nose. The slapper whose purpose was to humiliate, becomes the person who is humiliated. Jesus’ hearers would’ve burst out laughing! Humiliation! This is Jesus’ jujitsu!
Strip naked (Matthew 5:40)
Public nudity carried shame – not only to the victim, but also to the perpetrator. If a person takes one of your garments and you respond by giving him all your garments, the shame falls on him: he stripped you. He created this awkward public situation. Humiliation! This is Jesus’ jujitsu!
Go the second mile (Matthew 5:41)
Soldiers had to carry equipment weighing about 35 kilograms. They were permitted to make civilians carry their packs. To minimize risk of civilians responding by rioting, there were strict regulations. They could only make civilians carry their packs for one mile. What if the victim refused to give back the pack after carrying it for one mile? Imagine the soldier pleading with the civilian to give him back his pack! Humiliation! This is Jesus’ jujitsu!
Wink gives many examples of Jesus’ jujitsu used across the world to win freedom from oppression. I think on October 7, Hamas provided a great example.
Hamas “made” Israel publicly shame all Israelis – both Jews and Arabs. On October 7, Hamas conducted a terrorist attack, which was not only massive in scale and cruelty to humans, but also massively humiliating to Israel’s Defence and Intelligence capabilities.
It was so extensive, cruel, and humiliating, that Israel “had to” apply its doctrine of massive counterattack. Israel “had to” blast Gaza and its people into rubble and body parts and broken souls.
Hamas committed a terrorist act. All the shame is heaped on Israel. That’s jujitsu.
But is it Jesus’ jujitsu? What do you think?
Have you ever been taught Jesus’ jujitsu? Have you ever used it? Do you know anyone who has? Can you tell any stories about use of Jesus’ jujitsu?
More to come. The next instalment has been pulished (15 Nov), click here to read.
 This shows that Israel isn’t practicing genocide.
 I did mention, in a footnote, what Martin Luther King Jr did in his first pastorate.
 I do not think so – I’ll explain why in my next article.