Monday, March 10, 2008

Turn the Other Cheek (Part 2)

With Easter on a few weeks away, it is a great time to consider what Jesus’ last days on earth were like. How did Jesus respond to abuse?

When Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trick and trap him:

  • He pointed out their hypocrisy and refused to play their game of manipulation (Matthew 22: 15–22).
  • He taught what was right and did what was right, without fear (Luke 6: 1–11).

When money lenders and priests abused the people with usury in the temple:

  • He drove out the robbers and overturned the tables. He taught them that they were corrupting the house that was intended as a place of prayer for all nations (Matthew 11: 15–17).

When the Pharisees demanded a sign (with evil motives in their hearts):

  • Jesus refused to misuse his power.
  • He pointed out their wickedness—directly and powerfully.

When townspeople tried to kill him:

  • He walked away and continued his ministry work (Luke 4: 14–30).

When the Pharisees verbally attacked him by demanding to know by what authority he spoke:

  • He refused to give them an answer that they could use to get rid of Him. Instead, He told two parables that let the Pharisees know that he did have authority and that He could see into their hearts (Matthew21: 23–46; Mark 11: 27–12:27).

When the Pharisee plotted to kill him earlier than fit God’s plan:

  • Jesus withdrew from the region and continued doing God’s work of healing (Matthew 12: 15–16).
  • He left the city for the night (Mark 11:18-19).
  • Jesus’ bold teachings continued (John 7: 25– 27; John7: 45–47).
  • Divinely slipped through their grasp because it was not time yet (John 7: 30–31)
  • John 11:47–54)

When his friend, Judas, betrayed him:

  • Jesus still called him “Friend” (Matthew 26:50)
    • How unlike our human impulses to hurt back when someone hurts us. So often we objectify people who mistreat us. It is easier to think about someone as a “monster” or some cuss word than it is to remember their identity and worth as an individual created by God. Jesus did not try to feel better by belittling Judas. He did not deny reality. He acknowledged that he it was a friend who turned him in for arrest.
  • When Judas was about to seal his betrayal with a kiss, Jesus questioned him. “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48)
    • It reminds me of when God asked Adam and Eve “Where are you?” These two questions are not asked because the Lord doesn’t know the answer. They are asked to give the sinner a chance to examine himself…a chance to repent. Jesus still cared about Judas’ soul even while Judas was sinning.

When Jesus was brought to trial before the Sanhedrin, illegally and unjustly:

  • He remained silent when people knowingly gave false witness (Matthew 26: 62–63, Mark 14: 60–61). He allowed them to perjure themselves. He did not argue with foolish men who had evil intentions.
  • He answered in straightforward truth when he was asked a valid question. He confirmed that he was the awaited Christ. He stood unmoved by their manipulations.

When Jesus was mocked and abused and crucified by Roman soldiers and reviled by spectators:

  • He endured knowing that for this one time in history one man’s death was going to result in the forgiveness of sins for all mankind. (Matthew 27: 27–50; Mark 15: 16–39; Luke 22: 63–65 & 23: 26–47; John 19: 16–24)
  • He forgave everyone who had mistreated him.
  • He promised salvation to the thief who repented during his death process.
  • He provided comfort for His mother Mary.
  • This behavior on the cross convinced a hardened Roman soldier, a centurion, praised God and said, “Surely, this is this was a righteous man.”

This is a lot of scripture to meditate on…but a worthwhile pursuit during Lent season. How did Jesus respond to abuse?

He was not afraid. He relied on His Father.

He continued to respect himself and others.

He took action when the abuse was against others.

He continued fulfilling His ministry.

He was honest and forthright.

He pointed out evil and hypocrisy, and then continued to teach about His Father’s kingdom.

He forgave His abusers.

He removed himself from the presence of abuse until the appointed day for his unique role in history.

He did turn the other check with self-respect intact, and resisted any urge to abuse back—no tit for tat behavior.

Jesus was not a doormat.

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