WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
Matthew 5:44 “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
When Jesus stepped into Jerusalem during the Passion week, he arrived in the middle of a situation that was ready to explode. Jews were oppressed by the Romans and many wanted to stage an insurrection to finally throw off the shackles of the Roman authorities. No group of people in history has ever been persecuted more than the Jewish people, a fact that still remains true today. Many looked to Jesus, this rising figure that brought so much promise, to join the cause. Even His own disciples felt the time was right.
A popular view today is that Jesus was an activist. Many want to believe that He was somehow a liberal purveyor of social justice that, if walking the streets today, would be marching for BLM, climate change, LGBTQ, or any number of liberal causes. But Scripture shows Him differently. The One who rode on a lowly donkey into Jerusalem did not meet many expectations. Much to the dismay of those that were looking for a leader to join the cause, He did not come to riot or to protest the Romans. He did not yell in the faces of the authorities or show disrespect for the law. He did not rouse the crowds to rise up and overturn the government. He didn’t rail against the injustices that were occurring daily. In fact, there was no single Roman law that Jesus fought to change. There was not one single aspect of Roman authority that he challenged.
Jesus did have sharp words, but they were for the religious class that were challenging His teachings and miracles, and for the abuse of His Father’s house. The Jews were oppressed and they did need justice, but Jesus knew something they didn’t know…that true freedom would come only through the cross. While they were focused on the issue of the day, Jesus was focused on the issue of eternity.
One of the most difficult things we can do as Christians is make the decision to forgive. It’s a radical thing to walk in love instead of grievance, offense, anger, jealousy, and discontentment. But that was Jesus! If our true goal is to become more like Jesus, then we’ll have to step into the uncomfortable. Sometimes we’ll have to give up what we feel we are owed, or even the very justice we feel entitled to.
Jesus said in the Matthew 5:44 to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Even as Jesus was being led to His death He called on His Father to forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Can you even imagine that kind of reaction? He was forgiving them even as they drove spikes into his wrists, crushing the nerves. The Son of God, who could at any moment call legions of angels to come to His defense, did the unthinkable and radical. He laid down His rights and gave Himself completely to the will of the Father. What looked like incredible weakness to those at the foot of the cross was in truth the very picture of strength.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
I want to encourage and challenge you today to forgive, especially if your emotions are high because of the protests and riots over BLM, George Floyd, police brutality, or any other aspect of this tense period of time. I encourage you to do something uncomfortable. Instead of taking to the streets, take to your knees in prayer. Instead of filling the air with your outrage, fill the air with your praises to the God that is still in control. Instead of being stoked to anger by the constant images and words on TV, be stoked to pray. Because that’s really what Jesus would do.
The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself or less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less. – Tim Keller