Many in Israel believed that their messiah would rise up, sparking and leading a revolution, and conducting a military revolt that would conquer the Romans and drive them out of the land of promise, thus ending their God’s curse upon His people and their long and futile exile. This mindset led to the rise and fall of many false messiahs, many uprisings, and many needless and fruitless deaths. Apparently, many had forgotten that their beloved King David, when confronted with an enemy whose defeat seemed like a hopeless cause, before slinging a stone and chopping off a head, somewhat ironically stood and said, “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves.”
When it came to fighting His battle, Jesus, though eschewing David’s particular methods as they are cataloged in the Scriptural narrative of Israel’s history, did not forget other words that David was said to have uttered. Thus, as Jesus approached the place of His battle with His particular enemy, He could join with David and say, “the battle is the Lord’s, and He will deliver you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:47b). Ultimately, when His followers and those that came to believe in His Resurrection came to grasp the significance of that to which they had been witness, Jesus would be understood to have mysteriously defeated death, and in so doing ushered in His kingdom in a way unlike that of all of the kingdoms of the world.
However, rather than engage in what would have been the customary and expected violence of military conflict, doing battle with sword and spear as had so many to mixed ends, Jesus would be the one to suffer violence. In that suffering, He would both literally and figuratively take all of the blows that His and His God’s enemy could deliver, and still emerge victorious through a Resurrection.
Truly, in His arrest, His trial, and His crucifixion, Jesus would prove that the battle belonged to the one He called Lord. Though on the surface it seems as if Jesus was delivered into the hands of His enemy, just as it would have seemed to everybody in David’s day that he was marching forward to his own destruction and to that which would result in Israel’s subjection to its enemy, the Lord God of Israel did indeed deliver Jesus’ enemy into His hands, as it would eventually come to be said of Him that He claimed the keys of death (Revelation 1:18).
Because Jesus figuratively took those keys, those that called Him Lord and King came to believe that death, though still demonstrating its own power in the world, would no longer have the ability to lock away a people and keep them in exile from the plans, place, and purposes of their God. Both David and Jesus would willfully and against all odds engage in battle as representatives for their people, putting defeat and subjection on the line, and both would emerge victorious. Their peoples (Israel and humanity) would gain victory in their victories.
In Jesus’ victory, all the people of that land (that being the land of Israel) should have recognized that Israel has a God, and that its God was embodied by and revealed through their resurrected Messiah King, Jesus of Nazareth. In line with the covenant as expressed to Abraham and upon which their perception of the world was based, this reality would be first embraced by Israel, and then shared with the world.