Bushido, Courage, and Jesus


This is part 2 in a series on Bushido and Jesus.

In the face of potential peril the samurai always steps forward to do what is right. Courage is seen as more than just rushing into a dangerous situation and losing one’s life. It requires one to have a right cause and timing for the risk of loss. The most admirable of men were esteemed for remaining calm and poetic in times of greatest tumult: “In the heat of battle he remains cool; in the midst of catastrophe he keeps level his mind.”[1]

There were many times during Jesus life that he said or did things that made the religious leaders want to arrest and kill him. He was not afraid of them, but he also understood that his death would only be courageous if it was at the right time. When he made the claim that he was before Abraham, who had lived over a thousand years before him, the Jews “picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”[2] A little later when he claimed that he was one with the Father the Jews “sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.”[3] Jesus was a master of evading capture.

Although Jesus escaped multiple times from the hands of his enemy, it was never out of cowardice. He was waiting for the right time to die. Luke 9:51 says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” In the book of John it says that Jesus decided to go to Judea after he heard that his friend Lazarus was dead. His disciples thought he was crazy and said, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”[4] Jesus was not deterred by this threat but moved towards the place where his enemies were because he intended to lay his life down, according to his mission from the Father. Unbeknownst to everyone, even his disciples, Jesus was keeping track of when the Passover celebration would be held in Jerusalem. He knew that the tradition that his people, the Jews, had kept for generations was the place for his death. As the people had slaughtered animals to take away the sins of the people, Jesus planned on giving himself to be slaughtered to forgive the sins of all people.

One of the most courageous moments of Jesus’ life was right before his betrayal and arrest. He had just spent time praying in anguish to the Father whether it was possible to accomplish his mission without dying on the cross. After the Father responded that it was the only way Jesus had one last chance to escape. He knew that men were minutes away from arresting and ultimately killing him. He knew that his death would be greater than any other human death because he would be acting as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world, and it would separate him from his Father. In this moment, knowing the hell that was in front of him, he had the option of running away. Instead, he spoke the most courageous words of all time: “It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”[5] He moved forward into the most painful fate because it was the will of his Father.

Jesus is the perfection of courage because he stepped forward in the right way even though it cost him the approval of people and ultimately his life as he took punishment for the world. No one has ever had the opportunity to endure as much suffering as he did, and his death gained eternal life for all who trust in him.

[1] Nitobe, 21-24.

[2] John 8:59

[3] John 10:39

[4] John 11:8

[5] Mark 14:42

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