Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Courage of the Christ

This is my planned communion meditation for this Sunday:

A few years ago, a friend came to me with a problem.

She had recently become a Christian. She wanted to live in a manner that honored her Savior, but her live-in boyfriend was not interested in her new found faith. Every time she would ask him if he ever thought about marrying her, he would get angry.

She asked me, "Why do you think he won't marry me?"

Assuming that we were brainstorming, I answered, "Maybe he doesn't love you."

Unfortunately, as I later learned, my answer didn't go over too well. My friend did not care much for my blunt response.

However, she went home and told her boyfriend about our conversation. Over the next weekend, they were married. (Today, I always tease her by taking credit for their marriage.)

I thought about my blunt answer to my friend this week as I read Luke 11.

In that chapter, Jesus was eating dinner with a few Pharisees and lawyers. When the host became astonished that Jesus did not go through the traditional ceremonial washing before eating, Jesus started going through a list of sins committed by the Pharisees.

In verse 45, Jesus is interrupted. "One of the lawyers answered him, 'Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.'"

Then comes my favorite part of the story, the part that shows the courage of the Christ: "And he said, 'Woe to you lawyers also!'" (11:46) Rather than weakly apologize for telling the truth, Jesus turns his attention to listing the sins of the experts in the law. He would never be intimidated into silence simply because his message was unpopular at the moment.

Now I'm not saying that I was acting like Jesus when I was blunt with my friend. In fact, I did not know that I was offending her. I thought we were simply brainstorming...coming up with possible reasons for her boyfriend's lack of action. If I had known what I was doing, I probably would have apologized for offending her.

But Jesus was different. He knew that he was offending the Pharisees and lawyers, but he also knew that they needed to be offended. No one ever told them about their sins, because they were too intimidating. Who would be able to accuse the most upright and educated men in their community? Christ knew that they were blind to their sins and were incapable of repenting because of their spiritual blindness. He cared too much to be silent.

It was that kind of courage that we see in Jesus as he faced the cross. He knew our condition, even though we were blind to it. He knew that we stood condemned and hopeless. And he cared too much to let us face eternity without the hope of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. In going to the cross, he showed the courage to do the right thing despite the discomfort and pain. In doing so, he saved us.

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