Smoke Rise Baptist Church
When Your Best Really Counts
I did not hear it. As our text was read a moment ago, I listened carefully thinking I
might hear something ugly that Jesus said or did while being mocked, abused and
crucified, but it was not there.
There were many ugly things said and done, that’s for sure, but none by Jesus.
There was no shortage of verbal and physical abuse, instigated by the religious leaders.
“Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s
headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a
purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they
began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon
him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the
purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him” Mark
Just listening to this story dripping with sarcasm and insults makes me cringe.
How could anyone treat another human this way, much less a man as good as Jesus?
Mark must have wrestled with this, too, because he focused more upon the behavior of
those that crucified Jesus than the details of the crucifixion.
How did Jesus respond to their abuse and die? He died the same way he lived,
with strength, courage, dignity, compassion and grace. He did not turn on his tormentors,
did he? No hateful words came from his mouth, as a matter of fact, just the opposite
occurred. Luke tells us that Jesus pleaded for God to be merciful toward those hurting
him when he said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Without a doubt, Jesus demonstrated the radical nature of grace.
How do you think Jesus’ accusers reacted to the way he died? I think they
were shocked. I believe they thought their worst would bring out his worst. It usually had
this effect on people. Most died spewing the same venom they received, but not Jesus.
Their worst brought out his best. So noticeable was this contrast that the centurion
standing guard remarked, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
There is a lesson here for us, isn’t there? Anyone can rise to lofty heights when
everyone is pulling for him or her. To do so in the midst of adversity, when others are
against you, is another matter. This gets people’s attention. It turns heads.
Have you ever done this? Have you shocked people by responding to a situation
differently than people thought you would? Have you confronted hate with love or anger
with compassion? Have you refused to let others tell you who you must hate and hurt?
Have you decided that the way to rid the world of violence is not with more violence or
the time to settle a dispute is not after you have sought revenge?
Does the worst in others bring out the best in you? It did Jesus and it should
us, too, if we are his disciples.
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