Jesus was despised because we thought He was being punished by God.
That reminds me of the situation Job ran into, when He lost everything, including his health; and when he sat in the dust scratching the sores he had all over his body, his friends came and essentially said: “Everything’s your fault! God is punishing you for your sins.” Jesus experienced with Job how cruel and judgmental we can be, and of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Neither Job nor Jesus was being punished for his sins.
Whether we become witnesses of a sad scene, or we see someone at his or her breaking point, we should never jump to conclusions. In most cases our hasty conclusions are plain wrong, and the damage our snap judgment calls create may cause a lifetime of pain.
Who likes to hear that Jesus’s suffering on the cross is our fault? Well, unfortunately, it’s the truth. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong, so His pain is 100 percent our doing – but here is the good news: Jesus is not mad at us. He suffered greatly at our hands, but He suffered willingly. He wanted it that way, because His goal was to eliminate all judgment calls, whether they are inappropriate or justified. He took the blame and accepted all punishment there is. Now, what is left for us?
- Peace – with nothing left to blame, punish, or judge;
- Healing – coming from a Savior who has been in our shoes and has all the empathy for our cause that we can hope for.
Jesus was absolutely serious about accepting all punishment on our behalf. We can bank on that. Provided we believe that this is for real and accept His costly gift, we will indeed experience healing and wonderful peace. Jesus picks up our broken pieces and makes us whole again. It’s the beginning of a friendship that goes beyond our lifetime. And who does not want to be befriended by God’s Son?
“On my way, as I travel on this road of life, I know I’m not alone. Jesus, You are my friend.” (Song lyrics by Basically Two, Bill and Evelyn Snyder)
God’s mission is to save, not to judge. Even though God is ultimately our judge and we’ll account to Him after our departure from this life, here is a surprise for you:
God is not judgmental.
If He was, He would not have sent His Son Jesus into the world to save us. He would not be the kind of Shepherd who searches high and low to find His lost sheep. If He was judgmental He would have written us off a long time ago.
Being judgmental however is profoundly human and started with the discovery of evil back in the Garden of Eden. Upon mingling with evil we have fallen prey to evil; in order to rid ourselves from evil we became judgmental. Being judgmental is falling prey to the illusion that we have figured out how to be good, in fact, we think we’re professionals at it! With that mindset we start looking down our nose on other people comparing their performance with ours.
Of course this is all wrong. First of all, we are lying to ourselves and others if we think we have figured out how to be good. Jesus said that only God is good. He’s the professional if you will. When it comes to judging people, He is the Judge, and He will judge correctly. However – continuing to use business terminology here – if judging was God’s profession, mercy would be His passion. God loves to forgive to give us another chance. That’s who God is.
We have to understand how merciful God is to even consider returning back to Him. Don’t let bad experiences with judging humans hold you back. The verse preceding our today’s Bible quote in John’s gospel says this encouraging truth (John 3:16):
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
The destruction of one thing gives birth to a new thing. That’s to summarize the purpose of Judgment Day. It is so very challenging to live through this present season of change. Times are tough, lawlessness seems to increase, love grows cold, planet Earth being ravaged and abused. This is the time when I question my values and purpose. Am I serving God or self-interest? Is my life about loving God and people or is it all about me? God is the rock that will get us through the storm. I cling to Him by clinging to His values and purposes for my life. And in the midst of the storm, let’s not forget hope: There will be a new heaven and a new earth. There’s an incredible Life ahead of us!
“Lord, You are my Rock. I cling to Your Words, they are Words of Life. I want to see Your face; I want to be close to You. You will see Your children through the storm.”