Truly one of the most remarkable things to me about Jesus is that He stuck to His guns and went through with it. Have you ever imagined what would have happened had Jesus packed it all in? What would have become of us? The letter to the Philippians aptly describes His willingness to êmpty himself and become a servant, and suffer the ignominy of the cross.
Now for deserving and grateful people, one might be tempted to heroism. But Jesus was faced with skepticism, ridicule, opprobrium heaped on Him by the very people He came to help. Even those who should have known better, His own clergy despised and treated Him disgracefully.
True He was also extremely popular and well-respected by the people and even some of the leaders, and massive crowds followed Him, but the very same people finally turned against Him and asked for His head and the release of a notorious prisoner. And it was not as if the die was cast and no retreat was physically possible, after all in correcting Peter for drawing his sword He made it quite clear that He could ask His Father for twelve legions of angels and He would be delivered, yet He did not.
He faced ignominy, opprobrium, shame, hypocrisy, ignorance, unfounded allegations, persecution, became persona non grata in the eyes of foolish men but did not back down. He saw beyond these and saw the joy set before Him and therefore endured. He knew the end would be infinitely delicious. Because of that, God ‘highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name’. There is something on the other side of your pain.
He had a choice, you have a choice
He had a choice, you have a choice. Whatever your situation, choose as He would choose. You may be in the throes of pain over what people have done to you or said about you as you earnestly strive to serve God. Perhaps you are struggling to uphold your biblical values of morality and holiness as around you people mock and deride, and you find yourself sometimes wondering, ‘what is the point’? Or maybe you are an usher, singer, volunteer who feels undervalued, unappreciated, despised, and left on the sidelines; or someone who has poured out their life for others only to be vilified and despised. You may even be a shepherd afflicted by the ingratitude of the sheep.
- every time you feel inclined to repay evil for evil,
- ever time you feel inclined to tell the whole truth about your tormentors and accusers to their detriment,
- every time you wonder what is the point in all this,
- every time you feel like simply doing your own thing and forgetting about church, God and the whole crowd,
- every time you are tempted to retreat into your shell and give up;
Consider Jesus. He saw beyond the natural, He saw beyond the visible, endured the pain of the process, and changed humanity. He calls you to walk in His footsteps. Pain is no reason to capitulate. Stand for what is right with the tears pouring down your face if you must. But you will not cry for long. You will not always be recognised, appreciated and respected by people, but you will be the one standing and celebrating because God will sustain you.