Chapter 4 begins:
Jesus will not be a sitting-duck for a clandestine arrest by the Jews. He prepares his disciples for the impending showdown. Discreetly, so as not to frighten his disciples, he introduces the subject of defence. Gently he begins:
“When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?” And they said, “Nothing” Then said he unto them, “But now, he that hath no purse, let him take it, and likewise his bag; and he that hath no SWORD, let him sell his garment and buy one!”
(HOLY BIBLE) Luke 22:35-36
This is a preparation for Jihaad, a Holy War – Jews against Jews! Why! Why this somersault? Did he not advise them to “turn the other cheek”; “to forgive seventy times seven” (70 x 7 = 490)? Did he not send his chosen Twelve with the advice:
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye, therefore, as wise as serpents, (?) and as harmless as doves.”
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 10:16
TO ARMS! TO ARMS!
The situation and the circumstance have changed and as with any wise and able general, the strategy must also change. The disciples were already armed. They had some foresight. They had not left Galilee with bare knuckles. They responded:
“. . . Lord, behold, here are two SWORDS.” And he said unto them, “It is enough”.
(HOLY BIBLE) Luke 22:38
The missionary, so as to retain the impression of the “meek and gentle Jesus”, “the Prince of Peace”, pleads that the SWORDS were spiritual! If the swords were spiritual, then the “garments” must also be spiritual. If the disciples of Jesus were to sell their SPIRITUAL garments to buy SPIRITUAL swords, in that case they would all become SPIRITUALLY naked! Furthermore, one does not lop off peoples physical ears with spiritual swords –
“And, behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his SWORD, and struck a servant of the high priests, and cut off his ear.”
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 26:51
The only purpose of swords or guns is to maim and to kill. People did not carry swords to pare apples and bananas in the time of Christ.
WHY COUPLE OF SWORDS ENOUGH?
If this was a preparation for war, then why should two swords be “enough”? The reason is that Jesus was not contemplating a battle against the legions of Rome. Since his “friend” Judas was in league with the Temple authorities, he was expecting a clandestine, underhand attempt by the Jewish oligarchy to seize him. It would be a question of Jews against Jews. In such a battle against the Jewish temple servants and the riff-raff of the town, he would prevail. Of that he was sure. He had with him Peter (the Rock) and John and James (the sons of Thunder) together with the other eight, each vying with one another to go to prison for him; to die for him. These were all Galilians. They had a reputation of Zealotism, terrorism and repeated insurrections against the Romans.
Armed with sticks and stones, and the swords, and fortified with the spirit of self-sacrifice which they had avowed for their Master, he was sure to knock hells into any Jewish rabble that dare confront him.
Deedat’s explanation for Jesus’ change in tactics raises more questions than it answers. How had the situation changed? What circumstances had changed? What was Jesus’ ultimate goal? How did a change in strategy at this point in time give Jesus a better chance of reaching his goal? In chapter 3 Ahmed Deedat proposed that Jesus’ goal was the establishment of an earthly kingdom in the immediate future. How would Jesus’ peaceful message have brought about such a kingdom? Are we to believe that Jesus thought the people would peacefully elect him to be their king and that the Romans would exit the territory without a fight? No, for then Jesus was not the “wise and able general” Deedat claims he was. With that question unanswered we must then ask what changes in the situation and circumstances prompted Jesus to embrace violence. The authorities growing desire to silence Jesus is the only change that comes to mind. Yet a violent struggle with a small number of followers was sure to fail. Not even two larger scale revolts by the Jews could succeed in the century following Jesus’ ministry. Thus, we must conclude that Ahmed Deedat has no plausible explanation for Jesus’ preaching or motives.
His explanation for why Jesus limited the disciples to two swords fails on at least two counts. First, the Romans were bound to intervene in a battle between two groups of Jews, especially during Passover when thousands of pilgrims were in Jerusalem and the fighting could get out of hand in a hurry. Second, the Temple authorities would easily be able to gather more than thirteen individuals and two swords together. The absurdity of this interpretation requires us to find a better interpretation of Luke 22:36-38. As I note elsewhere, Jesus is telling his disciples that they will soon have to be prepared for persecution. Jesus’ disgust in verse 38 at the disciples’ literal understanding of his words could just as easily be directed at Ahmed Deedat himself. Deedat is correct when he notes that a disciple cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest but he conveniently ignores Jesus’ condemnation of the action and his healing of the wounded person (verses 47-53) and Jesus forgiving those who crucified him (Luke 23:34).
Moving on, Deedat writes:
A MASTER TACTICIAN
He had proved himself a skilful strategist and planner, alert and resourceful. This was not the time to sit and twiddle thumbs; to be a sitting-duck, cooped up with his disciples in the upper-room! No, not for him. He leads his platoon, in the middle of the night, to Gethsemane-Gethsemane – an olive press – a courtyard built of stone walls some 5 miles out of town.
On the way, he unburdens to them the seriousness of the situation. The implications and the explosive nature of the coup that failed. Now he must bear the wrath of the powers that be. The price of failure!
You do not have to be a military genius to appreciate that, Jesus (pbuh) deploys his forces as a master tactician, in a manner that would bring credit to any Officer out of “Sandhurst” [A leading military academy in England]. He places eight of the eleven disciples at the entrance to the courtyard, commanding them:
“… Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.”
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 26:36
The question that would bug any thinker is: “Why did they all go to Gethsemane? To pray? Could they not have prayed in the upper-room? Could they not have gone to the Temple of Solomon, a stone’s throw from where they were, if prayer is all that they wanted to do? No! They went to the Garden so that they might be in a better position to defend themselves!
Observe, Jesus does not take the eight with him to pray. He positions them strategically at the entrance to the courtyard; armed to the hilt, as the circumstances would allow:
“And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. . .
Then saith he unto them. . .
tarry ye here and watch with me.”
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 26:37-38
Where is he taking Peter and John and James now? Further into the Garden! To pray? No! To make an inner line of defence – he had put eight at the Gate, and, now these zealous Zealots (the fighting Irishmen of their day), armed with SWORDS, to “wait and watch ” – TO KEEP GUARD! The picture is very vivid; Jesus leaves nothing to our imagination. A-n-d HE (alone) prayed!
Gethsemane is east of the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem (John 18:1), on the slopes of the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30; Luke 22:39). It is less than a mile away from the walls of first-century Jerusalem, not the five miles Deedat claims. John 18:1 states that Jesus and his disciples entered an olive grove, not a courtyard as Deedat claims. The name Gethsemane derives from the Hebrew and Aramaic words for “oil press.” Gethsemane is a place name and does not refer to a structure, such as a courtyard, on the Mount of Olives.
Deedat claims that on the way to Gethsemane Jesus told the disciples the seriousness of the situation and that he would have to bear the wrath of the authorities for the failed coup. This description has no basis in the text of the Gospels and is the creation of Ahmed Deedat. Deedat continues his fictional narrative by asserting Jesus deployed his disciples in a defensive formation. Once again the text says nothing about this; it merely notes that a group of eight disciples, a group of three disciples, and Jesus were separated by a small distance. Deedat even claims that some disciples were situated at the entrance of the courtyard despite the fact that they are said to be in a grove and we know nothing about the exact position of the disciples.
Deedat then argues that since Jesus and the disciples could have prayed somewhere else they must not have gone to Gethsemane merely to pray. This conclusion does not follow from the premise. For example, Jesus may have prayed in Gethsemane because it was quieter and provided more privacy than either the upper-room or the Temple. Not surprisingly, the Gospel texts provide some clues on this topic. Luke 22:39 notes that Jesus habitually prayed on the Mount of Olives. During Passover, Jesus was lodging in Bethany not Jerusalem (Matthew 21:17; 26:6; Mark 11:11-12; 14:3) and thus Gethsemane would be on the way from Jerusalem to Bethany.
Ahmed Deedat continues:
JESUS PRAYS FOR RESCUE
“. . . and began to be sorrowful and very depressed. Then saith he unto them, ‘my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death’ . . .”
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face (Exactly as the Muslim does in Salaat), and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
(This is the quality of a good Muslim who submits his will to the will of God).
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 26: 37-39
“And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground”
(HOLY BIBLE) Luke 22:44
MESSIAH SOBS FOR HIS PEOPLE
Why all this bewailing and lamentation? Is he crying to save his skin? It would be highly cynical on his part to do that! Did he not advise others:
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out . . . And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 5:29-30
We would be doing Jesus a grave injustice if we thought that he was crying like a woman to save his body from physical harm. He was crying for his people – the Jews. They held a queer logic, that if they succeeded in killing any would-be Messiah (Christ), it would be a sure proof of his imposture. For God Almighty will never allow His truly “anointed one” (Christ) to be killed – (Deuteronomy 18:20). Hence the insistence of the Jews as a people, as a whole, in rejecting Jesus, the son of Mary, as their promised Messiah – “The eternal rejection.”
Matthew 5:29-30 concerns cutting sin out of one’s life and does not address self-preservation. Ahmed Deedat claims Jesus was crying for the Jews despite the fact that the text does not mention the Jews. In fact, the text makes it quite clear that Jesus was praying about himself:
- “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will . . . . My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:39, 42).
- “Take this cup from me” (Mark 14:36).
- “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
It is not shameful or abnormal to not want to go through the tortures of crucifixion. Next, Deedat writes:
This harrowing sob-story, the blood-curdling cries and lamentations would evoke sympathy in the hardest of hearts. And the hot-gospeller and the Bible-thumper is not averse to its effective exploitation. We are told that Jesus was destined to die for the sins of mankind. That he was “being prepared for this vicarious sacrifice before the foundation of the world”. That even before the material universe came into being, there was a contract between “Father and son,” and that in the year 4000 A.A. (After Adam) [According to Christian calculations the world and everything in it is 6000 years old], God himself in the form of Jesus, as the second person from the enigmatic Trinity, was to get himself hanged to redeem mankind from the Original Sin and their actual sins.
JESUS UNAWARE OF HEAVENLY CONTRACT
From the “call to arms” in the upper-room, and the masterful deployment of forces at Gethsemane, and the blood-sweating prayer to the God of Mercy for help, it appears that Jesus knew nothing about the contract for his crucifixion. It reminds one of the Biblical Abraham, leading his son to the slaughter with the bluff that the Lord will provide a ‘scape-goat.’
AN UN-WILLING VICTIM
If this was God’s plan for a vicarious atonement to redeem mankind, then obviously He had chosen a wrong substitute. This candidate was most reluctant to die. Arming! Wailingi Sweating! Crying! Complaining! Contrast these responses with those of Lord Nelson, a war-hero, who gave up the ghost with these undying words:
“THANK GOD, I HAVE DONE MY DUTY!”. There are millions today, who would happily immolate themselves for king and country, with smiles on their faces, with shouts of “Amandhia!” or “Allahu-akbar!” or “God save the Queen!” Jesus was an un-willing victim. If this was God’s scheme of salvation, then it was a heartless plot. It was murder in the first degree, and not redeeming self-sacrifice.
Major Yeats-Brown, in his “Life of a Bengal Lancer”, summarises the Christian Doctrine of the Atonement in just a single sentence:
“NO HEATHEN TRIBE HAS CONCEIVED SO GROTESQUE AN IDEA, INVOLVING AS IT DOES THE ASSUMPTION, THAT MAN WAS BORN WITH A HEREDITARY STAIN UPON HIM: AND THAT THIS STAIN (FOR WHICH HE WAS NOT PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE) WAS TO BE ATONED FOR: AND THAT THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS HAD TO SACRIFICE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON TO NEUTRALISE THIS MYSTERIOUS CURSE.”
GOOD FOR EXPORT
“No heathen tribe!” proclaims this Britisher. But the mighty nations of the West, live and die by this “Fiction”. If it is no longer fit for home consumption, then it is still good for export! More than 62,000 full-time missionaries (Modern-day Crusaders) are raising the dust throughout the world. Harassing the “heathen” as they call them. Over 40% of these cultists are “born-again” Americans!
Strange as it may sound, after every outpouring of prayer, Jesus Christ found his disciples lulled to sleep at their post. Again and again he bewailed:
“What could ye not watch with me for one hour?” – (HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 26:40.
“And again he (Jesus) went away, and prayed, and spoke the same words. And when he returned, he found them sleep again …” – (HOLY BIBLE) Mark 14:39-40.
Poor St. Mark bemoans that the disciples could give no excuse for their lassitude, their somnambulism. He records:
“neither knew they what to answer him”, – (HOLY BIBLE) Mark 14:40
However, the most lucid, the most coherent and systematic of all Gospel writers, St. Luke, hazards a guess for this anomaly. He says:
“And when he (Jesus) rose from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for SORROW.”
(HOLY BIBLE) Luke 22:45
St. Luke, though he was never one of the elected Twelve disciples of Christ, holds numerous distinctions according to Christians. Among them, the “most historical”, the beloved “physician”, etc. As a Physician, his theory of men “SLEEPING FOR SORROW” is unique. Cries and waitings, sobs and sorrows were in abundance from Jerusalem to Gethsemane on the lips of Jesus (pbuh) which would shock and alert to wakefulness any un-ebriated [“Un-ebriated”: a sober person, not drunk] person. Why were the “lullabies” of woe, lulling the disciples to slumber? Was their psychological make-up any different from that of twentieth century man? Professors of physiology opine that under shock, stress and fear the adrenal gland secretes a hormone into the bloodstream – nature’s own injection – which chases away all sleep. Is it not possible that the disciples of Jesus had eaten too much and drunk too much: remembering that food and drink was all “on the house,” i.e. FREE!
This last section is irrelevant for determining whether Jesus died by crucifixion. Jesus’ willingness to die, atonement theology, and the nature of original sin tell us nothing about Jesus’ crucifixion. The Gospels do not mention Jesus crying or praying loudly so Deedat is using his imagination when he posits that the disciples should have been awake if they were sober. He also ignores Matthew 26:43 and Mark 14:40 which state the disciples fell asleep because their eyes were heavy. Luke’s explanation that the disciples were sleeping for sorrow is enigmatic but sorrowful people do sleep.