Friday, July 9, 2010

Responding To Hurt From Others

In John 18, we see the incident where Peter denies any association with Jesus after Jesus had been arrested. Before this event, Jesus had been sold out to his enemies by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas, like Peter, been a close companion for the last three years. At the time of Jesus’ arrest, all his disciples ran away out of fear. After investing three years of his life in some people, we see a sad picture where Jesus finds none of his friends faithful. Here he was, the most powerful person in the universe, and yet, he had no support while he was tried on unjust charges, whipped and abused. What would we have done if we were Jesus? What would we do? It was an unfair situation where Jesus was concerned and when life is not fair we do everything within our power to make it fair for us. At that moment, Jesus could have called down 10,000 angels to defend him and show his power but yet he did not do so. This scene, despite its gut-wrenching context, is a wonderful picture of God’s grace and mercy lavished on us. If Jesus had defended himself with all his might and power, we cannot deny his right to do so. But had he done so we would be still lost in our sins. If he did not shed his blood on the cross, salvation would still be out of our reach, leaving us to face eternity in Hell.

Although Jesus was equal to God the father in everything, he did not cling to his rights so that he could avoid humiliation, shame and death. He willingly embraced his destiny because that would enable us to be reconciled with God, if we trust in him as Saviour. One Bible commentator once described love as a whole-hearted commitment to the other person’s well-being. This is what we see here. Jesus’ love was more than an emotional, warm feeling in the heart. It was a commitment to ensure that we would go to Heaven whatever it cost him to do so. The world says “love your neighbours but hate your enemies.” But Jesus says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The world says do to others what they do to you which can also mean if they hurt you it is not wrong to hurt them back. But Jesus says “do to others what you would have them do to you.” We are to love first before asking it of others. We are to forgive first if we want people to forgive us. Love and reconciliation is the heart of the Gospel message and it is the fruit of love for the other. It is caring for the other person to the extent that the other’s life is more important than ours. Only such a love can ever bring about reconciliation with those who hurt us. That is why if you read the Bible, you will find many instances where it teaches us, “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21), “do not repay evil with evil or insult for insult, but with blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Jesus did not just teach these things to his disciples. Instead, he lived out his teachings as we can see in Bible today.

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