“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go.” ― C. JoyBell C.
The other day, my son and I were driving in the car and he asked me what a martyr was? He had heard the word used in several rap/hip hop songs and was curious as to the meaning. Now first let me say that my son is very advance in his vocabulary. He is an avid reader and has a greater knowledge of vocabulary words than I do. I have on many occasions gone to him and asked him what a word means. So I was a little surprised when he didn’t know the meaning of this word but at the same time, I was delighted to use this as a teaching opportunity.
I explained to my son that a martyr believes in a cause, is willing to go to war, to fight a battle and says, “I will die for my cause.” Example: Joan of Arc declared herself as a martyr, fault many battles to further her cause, and was willing to die for the cause. A martyr believes that justice is needed and they will fight and die to see justice prevail.
I have a book that I’ve been reading off and on called, Reading Judas, by authors, Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King. One of the interesting talking points of this book speaks about the martyrs’ that arose after the death of Jesus. One theory is that those who witnessed the crucifixion began feeling guilty; as if they should have done more to stop the senseless killing of their friend and teacher and felt they needed to become martyrs to show their devotion to Jesus; while on the other hand, the new followers may have misunderstood the crucifixion and began sacrificing themselves as martyrs to further their cause for Christianity, or “to be like Jesus.”
Some people believe Jesus was a martyr. I agree that Jesus did not run away from his belief. And he surely did not avoid antagonism. But…he also did not enter the cities with swords and armor. Jesus went where he was welcome. When Jesus came upon a city or villagers who opposed his message, he led his followers elsewhere. Whether Jesus had foreseen his crucifixion as a prophecy is a mystery to me. But one thing I’m almost certain about, Jesus did not go into the city as a martyr with a revolution trying to defend his philosophies or create a new religion. Jesus had no intention on leading his followers into battle to fight for a cause when they entered into the city of Jerusalem for Passover. Jesus was going into the city to celebrate his heritage and traditions, as he more than likely had done many times before in honor of peace, love, brotherhood and most of all, God.
In his final hours, Jesus instructed his followers to not fight on his behalf. At that point, he is saying to his followers, there is no need for you to fight or die for my sake. With every strike, Jesus does not resist or strike back. This still amazes me today. Can you imagine someone hitting you repeatedly? Can you imagine not defending yourself or fighting back? Jesus does exactly that. He surrenders and allows this experience to occur, not out of fear, not as a martyr but to instill his message. He carries out his final lesson to his followers, peacefully showing non-resistance. And the ultimate message; he bestows forgiveness. That to me is not a martyr. That to me is the opposite of a martyr.