Isaiah 53:3-4: “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!”

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)

John 3:17: “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

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.”

Genesis 9:12-13: “Then God said, ‘I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.’”

We know why we have a refrigerator. Food is subject to decay or spoilage.  That’s why we place perishables in the freezer.  Not unlike fruits and vegetables, life’s path is perishable. Unless we place ourselves into the Lord’s hands, our lives are subject to destruction and decay. In the book of Psalms we read (Psalm 1:6)

“For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.”

If left to our own devices our lives will eventually disintegrate and fall apart.  And this is exactly what took place in Noah’s time.  As we read in the book of Genesis, the whole human civilization looked like a bunch of rotten apples (Genesis 6:5):

“The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.”

What do we do when we have a fruit platter with rotten apples that is covered with fruit flies?  We take out the trash after setting aside the few apples unaffected by their rotten neighbors. And that’s exactly what happened with Noah’s generation. Desperate times call for desperate actions, but even so, the Lord was heartbroken and grieving over His spoiled creation (Genesis 6:6-8):

“So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth.  It broke his heart.  And the Lord said, ‘I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth.  Yes, and I will destroy every living thing – all the people, the large animals, the small animals, and even the birds of the sky.  I am sorry I ever made them.’ But Noah found favor with the Lord.” 

Here was a single family – Noah’s wife and children with their respective spouses – whom the Lord separated from the bad apples around them. To give God’s creation another chance and to save land mammals from complete extinction, the world’s biggest life boat was constructed, aka Noah’s ark.

Even though a worldwide flood is a disastrous affair, let’s not forget that Noah’s story remains a story of hope, and here is why: When a world turned bad, God decided to reboot and start over instead of completely writing us off.  Even as the majority of the known world was moving into the wrong direction, God still saw a glimmer of hope in us, and found a reason to believe in us.

Today’s rainbow in the clouds is our beautiful reminder that God won’t repeat a worldwide flood – never mind that people essentially have not changed! It didn’t take very long until human business went on as usual: some of it good, some of it bad. Yet even if the world went to hell in a hand-basket, God would not flood the whole world again to save a chosen few.  He decided to send His Son Jesus instead; and Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

Our God is merciful; He never gives up. We have to trust Him on that.

“Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly and the dreams that you dream of, dreams really do come true!” (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”)

2 Peter 3:10: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

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.”