In The Bronze Bow, does Daniel's vow to fight for Jesus contain flaws?
The Bronze Bow is a historical young-adult novel by Elizabeth George Speare set in the time of Jesus.
Daniel, whose family is killed by the Romans, does not vow to fight for Jesus, as he does not yet know the man. Instead, he vows to fight for God, drawing on his intense hatred for the Romans to drive his will. Jesus sees and understands Daniel's hatred, even as he preaches peace and love. In a crucial scene, Daniel defies Jesus to lead his people to victory over the Romans, but Jesus explains that killing will not lead to peace, only to more hatred and killing. Daniel, beginning to understand the message, is torn between Jesus and his vow.
"I made a vow before God! [...] Is not a vow sacred?"
"To fight! [...] To live and to die for God's Victory!"
A smile suddenly transformed Jesus' face, the old smile, radiant, full of youth and strength. He put his hand on Daniel's shoulder. "That is not a vow of hate," he said. "Go in peace, my son. You are not far from the kingdom."
(Speare, The Bronze Bow)
Daniel's conscious intentions are driven by hate, but his unconscious heart, exemplified by the phrasing of his vow, is driven by "God's Victory." Jesus knows that God's victory is not the extermination of the enemy, but the acceptance of love in the soul. Daniel's vow, therefore, contains a flaw in that it is too focused on the superficial struggle (Hebrews versus Romans) and not on the inner purpose, that of love first for oneself and then for one's fellow man. Jesus knows that love comes from God and cannot be felt towards others until it is felt for the self; he hopes to teach Daniel and others that love can overcome hatred until even a fierce enemy cannot stand against it.