Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Christ and the Church

“Let us suppose, in the manner of some romances, that a king was betrothed to a beautiful wife, whose picture was sent to him before he himself saw her. But when she set out on her journey to him, she fell sick of some loathsome disease, such as the smallpox or leprosy.
But suppose that he knew before she came to him that she should be restored to her first primitive beauty, and that even though he knew he would be troubled by her disaster, distemper, or disease, he easily quieted himself for that little space of time in which her infirmity, though greatly disfiguring her, was to continue. 

For he himself would be her physician, the only one who could cure her and restore her to her first perfect beauty, which he know he could and should do. Thus he would show all love and peace toward her, even though her disease was loathsome, in full hope of her recovery.

This is the case between Christ and the church.”

— Thomas Goodwin

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why the Insomnia of Jesus Matters to Us

By Russell Moore - Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

When the disciples screamed in the face of a storm, Jesus slept (Mk. 4:37-38). When Jesus screamed in the face of a cross, the disciples slept (Mk. 14:37)

Why could Jesus sleep so peacefully through a life-threatening sea-storm, and yet is awake all night in the olive garden before his arrest, crying out in anguish? Why are the disciples pulsing with adrenaline as the ship is tossed about on the Galilee Lake, but drifting off to slumber as the most awful conspiracy in human history gets underway?

Peter, James, and John rebuke Jesus for falling asleep on the boat: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk. 4:38) Jesus rebukes them for falling asleep as he prays before the cross: “Could you not watch one hour?” (Mk. 14:37)

Jesus isn’t the anxious sort. He tells us, remember, to be anxious for nothing, to take no thought for tomorrow (Matt 6:25-34). So why is he awake all night, “greatly distressed and troubled” (Mk. 14:33). In the storm, Jesus dismisses the disciples’ terror with a wave of the hand. In the garden, he screams, with loud cries and tears (Heb. 5:7), until the blood vessels in his face explode.

It is because Jesus knows what to fear. Jesus knows to fear not him who can kill the body, but instead Him who can cast both body and soul into hell (Matt. 10:28). Jesus doesn’t fear the watery deeps, which can be silenced by his voice. But he knows that is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Danger doesn’t keep Jesus awake; the judgment of God does.

The disciples are just the opposite, and I fear I am too. They are worried about relatively meaningless things, things that need only to be given over to the attention to Jesus. But they are oblivious to the cross that overhangs the cursed world around them, and within them.

I lose sleep quite often over the things Jesus tells me I should not worry about: my life, my possessions, my future. Such is not of the Spirit. Why is it easier for me to worry about next week’s schedule, and to lose sleep over that, than over those around me who could be moments away from judgment? Why am I more concerned about the way my peers judge my actions than about the Judgment Seat of Christ?

The Spirit of Jesus joins us to him in his Gethsemane anguish. We groan with him for the revealing of the sons of God, for resurrection from the dead (Rom. 8:23-27). We like him, through the Spirit, come to terms with the crosses we must carry. And, through it all, we cry with him, “Abba, Father!” (Mk. 14:36; Rom. 8:15).

The next time you find yourself unable to sleep due to worry, ask whether you’re in the Galilee waters or the Gethsemane garden. Ask yourself whether your wakefulness is of the weakening flesh or the awakening Spirit.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Embracing The Not-So-Holy Holy Week

By Rachel Evans from her Blog:

The symbolism is beautiful.

The tradition of folding a palm frond into the shape of a cross powerfully illustrates the kingdom message of Jesus, as a symbol of royalty becomes a symbol of sacrifice.  This simple action reminds us that the victory of Jesus did not take the shape of forceful triumph, but of humility and that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God demands we do the same.

...Which is why I got really pissed off yesterday when the palm fronds I bought weren’t the ideal size for folding.

Dan took one look at the wilting potted palm I brought home from BiLo and said, “I think they needed to be at least 21 inches long.”

“Well, if you want to go out in the pouring rain to buy a $40 palm tree, be my guest,” I shot back.

I was determined to present a little cross to everyone at church that night in honor of Palm Sunday and the commencement of Holy Week, so the two of us spent the afternoon painstakingly folding the six-inch leaves into tiny green crosses. The meticulous nature of the work frustrated me, and as I struggled to make one particularly misshapen cross hold together, I couldn’t help but see a parallel between the unraveling little cross in my hands and the unraveling faith in my heart.

The symbolism was depressing.

I had lofty intentions when I decided to observe the church calendar this year, and things were going really well until Lent.

Advent included the appropriate amount of anticipation, reflection, and celebration. Epiphany brought with it a sense of solidarity with the human race for whom Christ came. Unfortunately, Ash Wednesday fell on a day when I woke up unsure that God even exists, in a week when I felt betrayed by a group of Christians, and in a month full of writing deadlines and social commitments. Although I diligently kept my fast throughout the season, I felt as though I did a better job honoring the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. I’d hoped to get into a steady rhythm of daily prayer and reflection, but instead I found myself feeling distant from God, distracted by work, and cynical about the Church.

I guess in the back of my mind I’d hoped that all the liturgy and symbolism and tradition would magically restore my hope in Christianity and miraculously cure me of my doubts about God.  Isn’t that why young evangelicals have rushed out and purchased The Book of Common Prayer? Isn’t that why troubled, poetic folks like Anne Lamott and Sara Miles are Anglican?

But the crumpled fronds and awkward crosses spread across my dining room table spoke not of holiness, but of imperfection. Messy, screwed-up, real-life imperfection.

It took a few hours and a few completed crosses for me to realize that this is how it’s supposed to be.

The symbolism was perfectly imperfect.

Holy Week wasn’t perfect for the disciples. They betrayed, ran away, lied, despaired, and doubted.

Holy Week wasn’t perfect for Jesus. He wept. He wondered if there was another way.  He experienced the same agony and isolation that inspired the poet David to ask, “My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?”

Holy Week isn’t perfect for the Church. It comes amid scandal, division, persecution, and complacency.

Holy Week isn’t perfect for God, as he looks down upon the messes we have made, the stupid wars that we wage, and the imperfect representation of His son that we clumsily project to the world.

For most of us, holy week isn’t so holy. In fact, it's more like the unholy mess spread across my kitchen table on a cold and rainy Palm Sunday afternoon.

But maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Maybe Holy Week isn’t about perfection maintained, but about imperfection restored—an execution device transformed into a symbol of pardon, three denials transformed into three declarations of love, a tomb transformed into the birthplace of hope.

The symbolism is beautiful.

Do you struggle with disappointment when Holy Week turns into an unholy mess? What have you learned from the imperfect moments during Lent? 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15

Thursday, April 21, 2011

At your worst, At your Best.

Imagine your worst moment of guilt and shame, the memory that, when you let it, haunts you and threatens to hound you to the grave. In light of that sin, we sometimes cannot imagine how God could possibly forgive. Yet it was for that moment that Christ died for you. At your worst, God gave you his best. While you were still a sinner — of the worst kind — Christ died for you (Rom. 5:8).  The Passover teaches us that no debt of sin is too great to be forgiven because the precious sacrifice of Jesus pays it all.

Now imagine your best day. You’re on your winning streak, behaving well, keeping up with your spiritual disciplines, forgiving those who wrong you, helping those in need and leading non-Christians to Jesus. In light of such stellar Christian performance, we sometimes assume forgiveness, telling ourselves, ‘Of course God forgives me; I’m on his team.’ But the Passover teaches us that we don’t — and never could — deserve God’s forgiveness. Our debt of sin to him is so great that we couldn’t possibly pay God back, not with a thousand years of perfect performance (as if that were possible). On your best day, when you can most easily see yourself as God’s friend, your sin still makes you his enemy and requires Christ’s death so that you might truly become his friend despite yourself. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
— Mike Wilkerson
Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"I'm 'Dopted" (Quoting M.K. Berry...)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  Galatians 4:4-5 ESV

“God redeemed us in his Son so that he might love us and delight in us even as he loves and delights in his eternal Son. Adoption is God’s act of making room within his triune love for prodigals who are without hope, and providing them with homes in this world and the world to come.”
— Dan Cruver
Reclaiming Adoption

Friday, April 15, 2011

Don't Waste Perfume

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
       --Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)

Every time the disciples started establishing rules--no children near Jesus; don't let the crowd touch Jesus; don't talk to Samaritan women; don't let people waste expensive perfumes--Jesus told them to knock it off, and his rebuke was usually followed by a lecture that said, "You still don't get it! We're not substituting religious rules with our rules. We are substituting religious rules with Me!" Jesus kept saying
"Follow Me," not "follow My rules." So most of us have spent our Christian lives learning what we can't do instead of  celebrating what we can do in Jesus.
      ---- Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Hands of Christ at Applebee's (Grace Spots)

By Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like Blog. If you haven't visited his site, it is worth a read. Hilarious and inspired.

A few weeks ago, my family and I went out to dinner together on a Friday night. The goal was to have a family meal, hang out, and possibly even enter into the Q realm. Quality Time.

Apparently every person in the greater Nashville are also had the same idea.

At the first restaurant we went to, we couldn’t even find a parking place. We circled a few times and then tried a second restaurant. When they told us the wait time was 45 minutes, I groaned and set the timer on my iPhone.

I’m a little OCD about numbers and sometimes watching the time helps keep me focused on something other than waiting in the lobby. I’d like to say that while waiting there I realized our goal of hanging out as a family was already being accomplished, that we didn’t need food to bond together as a family, we had each other! This was why we came out in the first place. The night was already a success as we talked and laughed about our week in a moment that would have made even Norman Rockwell jealous.

I want to say that, but that would be a lie.

In moments like that, I tend to become a jerk. I don’t know if it’s because I’m competitive and want to “beat other people to dinner” or maybe it’s because I’m impatient. But I started to get really frustrated and tired of waiting and angry that I did not possess the super powers to force the little beeper we were holding to go off. Flash red already!

When it finally did go off, I walked up to the hostess and said, “I feel like I won the lottery. I’m so happy I want to give you a hug.” Her response?

“That would be great, I had a really tough day with my teenager.”

Slap in the face. Stomach punch. Throat chop. However you want to say it, she misinterpreted my passive aggressive/whiny statement as genuine thankfulness. And that was pretty convicting.

It made me realize that there are some moments in life where people aren’t getting any grace. There are some places where people aren’t being shown any kindness, ever. There are some times in the day where people aren’t getting any love. And although I might like to think I am graceful in those situations, I’m not.

But what if showing grace to someone was like anything else in life, you had to be deliberate? What if I could consciously pick ahead of time “Grace Spots” where no matter what, I was going to do my best to throw out wild amounts of grace? Would that change somebody’s day? Would that show someone Christ in a really unexpected way? Maybe, so here are three I identified:

1. At the airport.
Flight attendants, the TSA guards, the gate attendants, these folks are constantly surrounded by the most impatient, frustrated people on the planet. What if every time I flew, I went out of my way to treat the airport like a grace spot?

2. The Post Office
I’ve never had a fast experience at the post office. I’ve never walked out and thought, “that sure was easy.” But the one guy running the counter while 80 of us wait in line with packages didn’t demand, “I want to be understaffed today. I’d prefer to not have any help with me today.” That guy needs grace.

3. The DMV
You’re going to want to work your way up to this one. Don’t start with the DMV. Practice grace on a few Friday nights at restaurants first. Fly a few times and make a TSA guard laugh or smile before you practice grace at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is PhD level grace and kindness, but they deserve it too. Lots of it.

There’s a chance that you are a fountain of grace and the idea about deliberately labeling and praying about grace spots is silly to you. You already show grace everywhere. The planet is your grace spot. I wish I could say the same thing about my life, but I can’t. I need to keep grace spots in mind and I’ve already seen it change things.

When I was in the ninth grade my mom made me write an apology note to the dentist. He swore he’d never see me again as a patient because I was such a jerk to him. So when we moved to Nashville, I determined I’d pick the dentist’s office as a grace spot. After a few visits of showering everyone in that office with grace, a new hygienist handled my appointment. She said, “I was so excited to finally meet you today. Everyone was talking this morning about how much they enjoy when you come in for a visit and I hadn’t met you yet.” Then a few days later she sent me the first hand written thank you note I’ve
ever received from a dentist’s office.

Because the dentist’s office is one of my grace spots.

What would you say is one of the places you have a seemingly impossible time extending grace?

What grace spots could you pick?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why You’re Tempted

By Russell Moore:

I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

Maybe you tear up when you think about the words you screamed at your kids this morning. Maybe you’ve deleted the history cache of your computer this week, again, promising yourself that you’ll never access those images again. Maybe you carry that empty snack bag in your purse to throw away later, so people in your office won’t see it in the wastebasket. Maybe the prescription drugs in your desk drawer right now are the only things keeping you sane, and you fear they’re making you crazy. Maybe you just can’t stop thinking about the smell of your co-worker’s hair, or the clink of the whiskey glass at the table nearby.

Maybe what you’re tempted to do is so wild that I wouldn’t feel comfortable posting it on this page, or maybe it’s so tame that I wouldn’t even think to mention it. I don’t know. But I think I know what’s behind it all.

You’re being tempted right now, and so am I. Most of the time we don’t even know it. And, in every one of those moments, we want either to overestimate or underestimate the power of that temptation. We overestimate it by thinking something along the lines of, “I have these feelings, so therefore I’m predestined to be this kind of person.” We underestimate it by thinking something along the lines of, “I’m not tempted to do anything terrible, like adultery or murder. I’m just struggling with this small thing, say, bitterness over my infertility.”

But it’s there, and it’s wild.

Temptation is so strong in our lives because it’s not about us. Temptation is an assault by the demonic powers on the rival empire of the Messiah. That’s why conversion doesn’t diminish the power of temptation, as we often assume, but actually, counter-intuitively, ratchets it up.

If you bear the Spirit of the One the powers rage against, they will seek you out. They want to tear down the icon of the Crucified One that they see embedded in you (1 Pet. 4:14; Rev. 12:17). We’re targeted because we resemble our firstborn brother, Jesus.

We all, whether believers or not, bear some resemblance to Jesus because we share with him a human nature, the image of God. As we come to find peace with God through Jesus, though, we begin a journey of being conformed more and more into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). The demons shriek in the increasing glory of that light, and they’ll seek even more frenetically to put it out of their sights.

This post is adapted from my new book, Tempted and Tried.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thirsty on the Cross

By Max Lucado
Jesus’ final act on earth was intended to win your trust.

This is the final act of Jesus’ life. In the concluding measure of his earthly composition, we hear the sounds of a thirsty man.

And through his thirst—through a sponge and a jar of cheap wine—he leaves a final appeal.

“You can trust me.”

Jesus. Lips cracked and mouth of cotton. Throat so dry he couldn’t swallow, and voice so hoarse he could scarcely speak. He is thirsty. To find the last time moisture touched these lips you need to rewind a dozen hours to the meal in the upper room. Since tasting that cup of wine, Jesus has been beaten, spat upon, bruised, and cut. He has been a cross-carrier and sin-bearer, and no liquid has salved his throat. He is thirsty.

Why doesn’t he do something about it? Couldn’t he? Did he not cause jugs of water to be jugs of wine? Did he not make a wall out of the Jordan River and two walls out of the Red Sea? Didn’t he, with one word, banish the rain and calm the waves? Doesn’t Scripture say that he “turned the desert into pools” (PSALM 107:35 NIV) and “the hard rock into springs” (PSALM 114:8 NIV)?

Did God not say, “I will pour water on him who is thirsty” (ISAIAH. 44:3NKJV)?

If so, why does Jesus endure thirst?

While we are asking this question, add a few more. Why did he grow weary in Samaria (John 4:6), disturbed in Nazareth (Mark 6:6), and angry in the Temple (John 2:15)? Why was he sleepy in the boat on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:38), sad at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35), and hungry in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2)?

Why? And why did he grow thirsty on the cross?

He didn’t have to suffer thirst. At least, not to the level he did. Six hours earlier he’d been offered drink, but he refused it.

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. (Mark 15:22–24)

Before the nail was pounded, a drink was offered. Mark says the wine was mixed with myrrh. Matthew described it as wine mixed with gall. Both myrrh and gall contain sedative properties that numb the senses. But Jesus refused them. He refused to be stupefied by the drugs, opting instead to feel the full force of his suffering.

Why? Why did he endure all these feelings? Because he knew you would feel them too.

He knew you would be weary, disturbed, and angry. He knew you’d be sleepy, grief-stricken, and hungry. He knew you’d face pain. If not the pain of the body, the pain of the soul … pain too sharp for any drug. He knew you’d face thirst. If not a thirst for water, at least a thirst for truth, and the truth we glean from the image of a thirsty Christ is—he understands.

And because he understands, we can come to him.

From This is Love: The Extraordinary Story of Jesus

Thursday, April 7, 2011

“The Good Shepherd Jesus knows you well, though you may not think it. You never shed a secret tear over your own corruption, you never breathed a single prayer for forgiveness and helping grace, you never made a single struggle against wickedness, which He did not remark and note down in the book of His remembrance.

You need not fear His not understanding your needs, you need not be afraid your prayers are too poor and unlearned to be attended to. He knows your particular necessities far better than you do yourselves, and your humble supplications are no sooner offered up than heard.

If you transgress He will grieve—but He will chasten and bring you back; if you bear good fruit, He will rejoice and give more grace; if you sorrow He will bind up your broken heart and pour in balm. He is ever watching and observing and listening. No believer is so humble and lowly, but He is acquainted with all their ways.”
— J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do You Have a System to Earn God's Love?

By Pete Wilson
One of the things I’ve encountered while traveling and speaking throughout Mexico this week has been a deeply ingrained religion in the minds of many of the people. Now this is nothing new. The US has the exact same thing, we just hide it under cooler language.

The religious pattern I’ve picked up in many conversations with my new Mexican friends is this idea that somehow God withholds His love and you must submit to the “system” to earn that love.

By the thousands and thousands they buy into this idea because there are two things that are true, not only for them but for you:

1) We crave love.

2) We’re quite sure that all love has stipulations and conditions.
Ultimately this is why religion can so magnificently manipulate people, right? However, listen to how Romans 3 contradicts this idea.

Romans 3:22-26
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
This is huge because my new friends in Mexico have the same dilemma I do. As long as my heart is beating, I CRAVE love.

It’s true. We’ll do almost anything to belong to someone or to belong to something including, but certainly not limited to, committing to a tired old list of legalistic rules and laws.

I know you guys know this, but just pause to think about the implications of Romans 3.

What if today I walked in the truth that God is not in fact waiting for us to earn his love, but that he is passionately pursing us with His Love.

So how about you?

Do you think there can be such a thing as unconditional love? And if so, why do we always revert back to trying to earn God’s love?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where's Jesus?

By Allan R. Bevere
Many years ago, when our children were very young, during our vacation in North Carolina we stopped at Duke University so I could show our children my alma mater. The girls had not been there since they were babies, and since Dad was always talking about what a wonderful place Duke was, I decided I should show it to them.

I saved the best part of the tour for last and we entered Duke Chapel. There was the typical sign when one enters a cathedral asking that visitors be quiet, as there may be people praying and meditating. So with our four children we walked quietly to the front of the chancel area. As we walked I drew their attention to the sculptures and stained glass, giving them a lesson on why the sculpture of Paul was in one place, and Peter in another. As I whispered in the midst of the silent, praying people, our son Jason (about four years of age) blurted out at the top of his lungs, "Where's Jesus?" "Where's Jesus?" He wasn't interested in Paul. He didn't care about Peter. He wanted to see Jesus.

I tried to quiet him down discreetly, but to no avail. "Where's Jesus?" "Where's Jesus?" As people were raising their heads looking at us-- some smiling, some not-- I finally pointed to the stained glass window at the back of the chancel and I said to him, "Jason, there's Jesus!" Instead of silencing him, he shouted all the louder, "Jesus!" "Jesus!"

That is the heart of it all, isn't it? It is conviction of the New Testament writers that Jesus is Lord and the crux of Christian faith. The center of Christianity is not an idea, not a program, but a person-- this carpenter from Nazareth. For the church Jesus is the center of the faith and must always be.

The church gets into trouble when it loses sight of Jesus. When something or someone else becomes the center of that faith community's life and worship, it falls into serious trouble. Those groups we typically call cults have lost the central place of Christ, and have substituted someone else, a visionary or a self-proclaimed prophet. Visionaries and prophets are supposed to point to Jesus, not to themselves.

The task of the church, the followers of Jesus is to keep the main thing the main thing. That main thing is Jesus. There can be no substitutes. It's Jesus. Every Sunday we gather together for worship and Sunday School, at every church meeting, in all of our educational events, classes, special services, mission outreach; in everything we say and do, we should see Jesus in our midst. If we cannot see Jesus in our midst, then not only is it impossible to fulfill our tasks as disciples, it is impossible to present Jesus to others; for many people are looking for Jesus. Some of them may not know they are looking for Jesus, but they are. There are people like you and me who need to be transformed. There are people like you and me who are hurting. There are people like you and me who need hope. There are like you and me who need the truth. There are people like you and me who need Jesus. They want to see Jesus, and the only way they will be able to see and meet Jesus is through us. If they do not see Jesus in us, they may not see Jesus at all.

The New Testament says that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15-20). Since we are made in the image of God, that means our lives reflect the image of Jesus Christ; and that must mean something for the way we live every day. People need to see Jesus. They are looking for Jesus in us. Can they see him?

Monday, April 4, 2011

He did not Retaliate

By Max Lucado
The dialogue that Friday morning was bitter.

From the onlookers, “Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!”

From the religious leaders, “He saved others but he can’t save himself.”

From the soldiers, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Bitter words. Acidic with sarcasm. Hateful. Irreverent. Wasn’t it enough that he was being crucified? Wasn’t it enough that he was being shamed as a criminal? Were the nails insufficient? Was the crown of thorns too soft? Had the flogging been too short?

For some, apparently so...

Of all the scenes around the cross, this one angers me the most. What kind of people, I ask myself, would mock a dying man? Who would be so base as to pour the salt of scorn upon open wounds? How low and perverted to sneer at one who is laced with pain…

The words thrown that day were meant to wound. And there is nothing more painful than words meant to hurt…

If you have suffered or are suffering because of someone else’s words, you’ll be glad to know that there is a balm for this laceration. Meditate on these words from 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV):

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Did you see what Jesus did not do? He did not retaliate. He did not bite back. He did not say, “I’ll get you!” “Come on up here and say that to my face!” “Just wait until after the resurrection, buddy!” No, these statements were not found on Christ’s lips.

Did you see what Jesus did do? He “entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Or said more simply, he left the judging to God. He did not take on the task of seeking revenge. He demanded no apology. He hired no bounty hunters and sent out no posse. He, to the astounding contrary, spoke on their defense. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)…

“they don’t know what they are doing.”

And when you think about it, they didn’t.  They hadn’t the faintest idea what they were doing.  They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God.  But they didn’t know what they were doing.

Yes, the dialogue that Friday morning was bitter. The verbal stones were meant to sting. How Jesus, with a body wracked with pain, eyes blinded by his own blood, and lungs yearning for air, could speak on behalf of some heartless thugs is beyond my comprehension. Never, never have I seen such love. If ever a person deserved a shot at revenge, Jesus did. But he didn’t take it. Instead he died for them. How could he do it? I don’t know. But I do know that all of a sudden my wounds seem very painless. My grudges and hard feelings are suddenly childish.

Sometimes I wonder if we don’t see Christ’s love as much in the people he tolerated as in the pain he endured.

Amazing Grace.


From This is Love: The Extraordinary Story of Jesus