Jesus Is Not Like Joshua

Jesus is not like Joshua.

This week I have been teaching on the books of Joshua and Judges in my Old Testament Survey course. We talked through the painful issue of the slaughter of the Canaanites, under the leadership of Joshua. It’s a really challenging part of Scripture (as is so much of the Old Testament).

With that, here are some further reflections I wanted to offer on the topic.

Across the world, we have a history that has championed violence as a good method for punishing one’s enemies. This is true in the Old Testament, throughout all of history, and even into our modern times.

Yet, here is the astonishing thing. We are shown a very different way in Jesus. He was one who endured suffering at the hands of his enemies, rather than killing his enemies. This then opened the door to full forgiveness, along with the defeat of death, sin, and violence. Jesus didn’t just say, “Do not resist an evil person” (Matt 5:39) or, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). He actually lived it out.

In many ways, the church today still believes that violently disposing of one’s enemies (through sword, gun, or bomb) is a necessity. Many have even sanctioned such actions as coming from Christ himself. From Constantine to the Crusades, from the Inquisition to the treatment of Indigenous peoples, from the invasion of middle-eastern nations to imprisoned torture of criminals. Violence is seen as the answer.

But violence begets violence. Just take a peek at history; take a look at our world today.

There is a better way revealed in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the cruciform way, which leads to true life.

Jesus is not like Joshua.

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