65) I Came Not To Bring Peace, But A Sword

The reason the King List in Luke 3:23-38 goes all the way back in time to Adam, and not just to David, is to prove that Jesus of Nazareth inherited not only

  1. the right to rule over Israel from David,
  2. but also the authority to rule over God’s Kingdom of Heaven and Earth / Creation as Melchizedek from Adam through David.

Jesus’ Melchizedekian role is also expressed in the immediate continuation of Luke’s biography.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: [that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet…Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:13-17)]

and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And…he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and…began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:14-21)

We recognize the royal lineage from Judah, but I don’t think we also appreciate the clear statement that  Jesus also inherited the right to be  the lawgiver, like Moses, i.e. High Priest, along with his kingshipand that’s why the corrupt religious rulers of his day were getting the shivers at the idea of acknowledging him as the Melchizedek. 

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Messiah / Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst [dared] any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matt 22:41-46)

What we post-New Testament readers get from this is that Jesus is alluding to his divine paternity. While that is true, there is also another meaning in this passage that would have been the first thing to come to the minds of the 1st century Jews anticipating Messiah’s arrival.

The issue that Jesus presented to the Pharisees is that their expected Christ – the Messiah, the Promised One, the Seed of the Woman / Son of God going back in time to Adam – is not just the heir to King David’s throne over Israel, but the last of a series of Lords including and preceding and succeeding David who were granted dominion over all creation, signified by sitting, i.e. co-reigning with LORD / YHWH as Messiahs / Christs / Anointed Ones.

And the LORD said unto me…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:16-19)

With this background information, we can pick up on the unspoken exchanges between Jesus and the Pharisees, and the vociferous exchanges between Pilate and the Jewish rulers. Accepting Jesus as the King of the Jews would require not just overthrowing Herod in Judea, but Caesar in Rome, on whom the current Hellenized rulers, AKA Jews, depended for political, social and economic power.

And don’t overlook the rest of the passage from which Jesus is quoting.  The obsessively literate Pharisees wouldn’t have. There’s that sticky bit about “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.As we shall see, that would require a revolution against not just the current political, but also the religious, regime. This is why they dared not engage with Jesus any longer.

Continuing in Dr. Gibb’s account of history:

Once more the emphasis shifted when the king as priest was challenged by the growing claims of the professional clergy, so that the king’s major functions became limited to those of ruler, judge, and lawgiver under Yahweh. As a result of what Aage Bentzen calls ‘a sort of “secularisation” of kingship in later pre-exilic periods’, not only did the priests deny certain cultic rights to the king, but, according to Bentzen, even the function of lawgiving became less intimately associated with the Davidic kingship; the priests (that is, the Levites in the Deuteronomic sense) increasingly rivalled the king in this association. Thus we can see that, at the least, the rich meaning of the idea of the king as the son of God tended to fade in practice as time passed, no matter what dating may be agreed upon for the various passages which refer to his sonship, and that the priests in many respects picked up the pieces.”

By Jesus’ day both the Aaronic lineage of priests and the Davidic royal dynasty had been supplanted by first the Hasmoneans then the Herodians. Throw in the Roman overlords, and the Messianic Savior Melchisedec had to win a world war to regain his kingdom.

The Hasmonean dynasty [established by a priest, the brother of Judah the Maccabee / Hammer who led the victorious revolt against foreign rule] …was a ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea. From 110 BCE, with the Seleucid Empire disintegrating, the dynasty became fully independent, expanded into the neighbouring regions of Samaria, Galilee, Iturea, Perea, and Idumea, and took the title “basileus[Greek for “king” or “emperor]. Some modern scholars refer to this period as an independent kingdom of Israel.

The dynasty had survived for 103 years before yielding to the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE. The installation of Herod the Great (an Idumean) as king in 37 BCE made Judea a Roman client state and marked the end of the Hasmonean dynasty. Even then, Herod the Great tried to bolster the legitimacy of his reign by marrying a Hasmonean princess, Mariamne, and planning to drown the last male Hasmonean heir at his Jericho palace. In 6 CE, Rome joined Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea (biblical Edom) into the Roman province of Iudaea. In 44 CE, Rome installed the rule of a Roman procurator side by side with the rule of the Herodian kings (specifically Agrippa I 41–44 and Agrippa II 50–100).”

“Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” (Joh 11:45-48)

It is extremely important that we sidebar here to impress the point that John always uses the label “Jews” to refer to the rulers / lawmakers / judges, contrasting with “the people” who are those ruled, see John 7.

This class distinction, so well understood in the Roman terms patrician and pleb. was fundamental to all ancient through medieval societies.

The rise of democracy in relatively recent times was supposed to eliminate a powerfully oppressive class, but its continued existence can be recognized in the enduring favored status and prerogatives afforded to European royalty, the fundamental class struggle of Communism, and favored status of wealthy individuals who become the elite everywhere.

If we bear in mind that “the Jews” who clamored for Jesus’ death were a small fraction of the entire nation we can avoid the mistake of calling the entire nation, who became known as Jews after the exile from the land of Judea, “Christ killers.”

Given the history we just reviewed, the problem the chief priests faced was very real. If there was social unrest, the Romans would indeed swoop in and, as they had done previously with the Hasmoneans, replace their ineffective quislings with more effective governors.

In fact, this is exactly what they did shortly after this. But the Jewish rulers were between a Rock and a hard place because, if they allied with Jesus they would also lose their power because they would have to hand it over to him. Don’t miss the fact that the high priest, usurper though he was, knew the scriptures well enough to know that “the Christ / Messiah / Anointed One” is AKA “the Son of YHVH God,” i.e. King.

And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” (Matthew 26:63-65)

Nowhere in scripture is there a law that says an individual can’t claim to be the Son of God.  How else would the seed of David, legitimate heir to the Jewish throne, define himself? Like Herod’s law to slaughter the infant boys, this was a new law passed by the current lawmakers on the spot to safeguard their illicit power granted to them by the Roman god, son of god Caesar.

“Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe…

  • When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
  • Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
  • The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. 
  • When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid [because pagans know what that means – this is a superhuman spirit-powered individual.] And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:5-11)

The viciousness of the rulers’ power struggle with Jesus betrays their deep terror that he could win it, as he had already won the hearts and minds of the people. Their desperation is recognized by both the locally ethnic king Herod and the foreign overlord Pilate, who began to feel a mix of emotions toward the man who is causing such a stir. They express awareness that he is being treated unjustly, and they have had so many power struggles of their own with the Jews that it is only reasonable that they consider making him their new regional religious / political ally. However, Jesus wasn’t playing that game, so Rome’s men then maintained, and even strengthened, their uneasy alliance with the existing local political-religious rulers.

“And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.” (Luke 23:8-15)

“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews – the Jews!- cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar…We have no king but Caesar.“ (John 19:12-15)

The Jewish rulers were very serious when they publicly proclaimed their subjugation to Caesar. Given their recent bitter loss of autonomous power to Caesar and his minion Herod, this underscores just how utterly opposed they were to Jesus becoming their king, and diagnoses how truly anti- Messiah / Christ they were.

On the other hand, the Pharisees, who we often think of as Jesus’ opponents, were in fact the fundamentalist Bible-believers of the day. Many searched the scriptures in search of the truth of Jesus’ claims that he was the fulfillment of prophecy. The writer of Hebrews, unquestionably a Pharisee given his knowledge of the law, figured out what Jesus was claiming.

Hebrews is a legal defense of Jesus’s claim to be, not just the king of Israel, but the Melchi-zedek, righteous human ruler of all creation. Visualize a lawyer delivering his opening argument in a courtroom filled with biased opponents and oppressed people yearning to breathe free.

Gregory Peck

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things…For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Sonunto the Son [of David] he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows…But to which of the angels [i.e. ancient gods like Enki or Zeus] said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Hebrews 1:1-13)

One of the most significant issues Jesus and his followers were dealing with is that the praiseworthy revolt by devout Levitical priests against the false king Antiochus Epiphenes turned into a coup d’etat against the true king Melchizedek. This is the historical context that the writer obviously has in mind in the following passage.

  • “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Messiah / Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. [Don’t miss that! The Son of God as the likeness of God, is God’s representative AKA the high priest.] As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:1-6)
  • Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (Heb 5:10)
  • “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even YHWH’s Savior / Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6:10)
  • “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11)
  • “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb 7:17)
  • “(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The LORD sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek:)” (Heb 7:21)
  • “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.“ (Hebrews 7:28)

“The oath” is the evidence that the lawyer pulls out with a flourish as the ultimate proof of the validity of Jesus’ claim. This only has legal proof in this court case because the documents in which it is found had already been accepted into evidence as being the Word of God, inspired scripture, TRUTH. Where is this oath? Originally relayed to David by the prophet Nathan in II Samuel 7, in Psalm 89 quoted above, and again in Psalm 132.

“Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.

The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it…

I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud. [David’s offspring]…His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.” (Psalm 132:8-18)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s