Chuck Foreman – Teaching / Missions Pastor
How did Jesus do it? How did he uphold the righteous requirement of the law (God’s design for how our lives best work) and still love people—really sinful people? We see him do this over and over in the gospel narratives. He sides with the guilty against their accusers, all the while not condoning the sin, but looking passed it into the life of the sinner, somehow discerning the deeper need of the moment for support and affirmation. In doing so, Jesus stands in opposition to those bringing condemnation and judgement, absorbing the hostility directed at the condemned onto himself. Could that be what he has also called us to do as his followers?
Could that be why we aren’t very good at doing what Jesus seemed so adept at—loving the unlovely and the outcast? We typically think of Jesus’ death on the cross as the time when he took our punishment and pain upon himself, but he did this in life as well; he didn’t wait for the cross. His rescue of the adulterous woman is a perfect example of this. He was the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 in his death and his life…
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
The Apostle Paul said, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.” (Philippians 1:29) If we take our cue from Jesus, a big part of our suffering for him will be because, like him, we, as his followers, are loving, rescuing and restoring sinful, guilty, broken, hopeless and helpless people from a life of degrading self-contempt and the contempt of their peers to a life of forgiveness, acceptance and wholeness. If we do this, we will inevitably divert the hostility directed at these broken people onto ourselves. I doubt if anyone told you that’s what you were signing up for when you decided to follow Jesus. Are you ready for that now?