Look at Me! I’m Suffering! Luke 23:34

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But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
Luke 23:34

Last year we looked at the willingness of Jesus to forgive others as He hung on the cross.  This year, I was struck by his willingness to intercede on the behalf of others as he suffered.

While I was looking at the story of our Lord I kept thinking, had this been any one of us, we would have been screaming from the top of our lungs, “Look at Me; I’m suffering!”  “All eyes on me!”  “Look at this crown on my head!”  “Look at the nails in my hands and feet.”  “Look at them gambling for my clothing.”  “Look at Me!  I’m Suffering!”  But, not our Lord!  In the height of His suffering, He opened His mouth towards heaven and sought mercy and grace for those who were abusive towards Him. images (3)

What about you?  In your journey towards the mark, are you in the habit of considering the state and need of others before your own?  If your like me, and I am assuming you are, our personal plights often come with blinders at best, most often a sleep mask!  We are so caught up in our own circumstances that the pain, suffering and needs of others can take sit on the back burner, getting minimal if not any attention.

Not only do many of us ignore others in the middle of our ordeals, we call attention to ourselves, highlighting our struggles, calling for the compassion and empathy of others in a way to cope and compensate us as we travel through.  Though Jesus could have made a legitimate, and I mean LEGITIMATE CASE, that the world revolves around Him, we must realize that the world does not revolve around us.

Jesus was not a narcissistic, and neither should we.  We are neighbors!  We are fellow members of a larger community, though we find ourselves paired with smaller groups  and individually loved by God.  Our God is the creator of all mankind, and desires to be the Savior of all, though all have yet to acknowledged His existence or His sacrifice.  It is this knowledge that must keep us pressing to reach out to all people, and displaying our love for all His creation.

 

Let us follow the example of our Lord.  Remembering others even as we are experiencing the pain and struggles life presents us.  Let us gain confidence and peace such that we show compassion to those who lack the connection to God, and the security of being justified by His sacrifice.

Behind Closed Doors (John 20:19-23)

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On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,
the disciples had gathered together and locked the
doors of the place for fear of the Jewish authorities.
Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”  When He had said this, He showed
them his Hands and His side.
John 20:19-20

In life, we face challenges from every hand.  Our brothers find themselves struggling after witnessing the crucifixion and burial of their leader, The Messiah.  They watched as He suffered at the hands of the Jews, and must have felt their power and influence to be unstoppable.  For this, they locked themselves in a room to protect themselves from the fears they had.

Though the room doors were closed and locked, I believe the first doors closed and locked were in the disciples minds.   They had the promise of the Lord that the would do greater things than He, that the church itself would be established on one of them, and would flourish at their hands.  They had miracle working power, as well as the Messiah interceding on their behalf, and because of what they had witnessed, they were unable to carry our the full breath of their ability discouraged by what seemed to be inability.lockeddoor

Oddly enough, we like the disciples often mislabel inability or confuse restraint for powerless.  In stead of being in awe of the power and restraint Jesus showed by enduring and being committed to completing His Fathers will, they were discouraged by the crucifixion.    Thus Jesus comes to them, and showed them the Resurrection.  In times of despair, we must choose to look at the victory over the grave, not the pain and suffering of the cross.  Jesus had to show them that there was victory of the grave, and a power greater than any earthly power that could be displayed.

I was encouraged not only by His appearance to them, but the fact that He was willing to stand with them in the midst of their fear.  It is encouraging to know that we have a Savior who will appear and stand.  He comes to us in the hour of our greatest need, even when we have failed Him.  It is just like God to remind us of who He is and who we are in the midst of falling apart. Thank God for a Savior who is there for us, despite our abandoning of Him when He needs us most!

Though I wanted Him to tell the disciples, I have dealt with the Jews, or they wont bother you, I was disappointed that He simply said, “Peace be with you.”  He doesn’t promise them there problems will disappear.  He doesn’t promise them that they won’t be punished or crucified.  He simply speaks Peace to them!  In other words, you will have storms, trials, tribulations, and for most of them, the cross, but while enduring, you will have “peace”!  

He then gives them good news and bad news!  The good news, “Peace be with you”  the bad “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.”  We praise God because their bad news is our good news.  They were armed with the Gospel, the Name of Jesus, and the soon, the Power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish all that was ascribed to them.  Jesus knew the commitment they were being asked to make.  They were building a Kingdom and would be considered royalty, but their lives would not be filled with comforts and convenience.   They were being called to Martyrdom.  They wouldn’t be asked to make the same sacrifice, but a similar one.

Their lives were now to be lived for the Lord, a living sacrifice for others.  From now on, their lives would be on the line, and the responsibility of showing people to the Father would rest upon their shoulders.

They; true to form were panicked!  They knew that this would be impossible to do without Him; and they were right.  Without Him, they were sunk!  Who would calm the seas?  Who would raise the dead?  Who would cast out demons?  Who would give sight to the blind?  Who?  They had already displayed the sum of their power and ability!  Jesus thus “breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”  (V. 22)

The power they needed to do would now match the peace they needed to be.  And we too have all we need to take this world by storm.  Thus we are asked to “Go ye therefore” and are challenged to live our lives considering the lives of others as important as ours and the will of the Father first in our lives.  God does not stop “life” from happening, so he has equipped us with the power and peace to overcome the world just as He did!  Thus, let us not stay behind closed doors.  Let’s us advance and accomplish His will!