Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

A big “if”

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 30, 2022. Photo by Paul Keiffer on Unsplash

And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”  One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:35-39)

Scoffing. Mocking. Railing. Jesus gets it from the rulers, from the soldiers, and even from another criminal being executed alongside of him. What kind of king is this? He’s not much of a Christ if he can’t even save himself! At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus got questioned by the devil,”If you’re the Christ…” Now he gets it from the public. “If you’re a king…”

We could easily be a part of that crowd. We’ve got lots of practice criticizing people and finding fault with others. It’s bound to seep into our thoughts and conversations with and about God. You wouldn’t be the first. God has been getting negative reviews for a long, long time. Moses complained, “These people you gave me are impossible.” Jeremiah demanded to know why God was going easy on the wicked. Habakkuk accused God of slacking. From prison John the Baptist wondered out loud if Jesus was really the Christ. Job blew off steam, saying, “Where’s God when I need him?” Elijah said, “I quit.”

Who hasn’t wondered why tragedies happen to decent, kind people? Who hasn’t also wondered why God hasn’t dealt with people who obviously need to be punished? As soon as we begin down that path, we’ll eventually arrive at the same place. We’ll be asking, “If your are the king…” We’ll begin railing, “If you’re the Christ…”

Is that the way you think we should address the one we call Lord? Probably not.

Jesus will sometimes turn this around and challenge us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Yeah, that will make you squirm. So will this: “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). How do you like being on the other side of the question?

Jesus had nothing to prove to bystanders, rulers, soldiers, criminals or even the devil himself. Jesus is the Christ, he is the king, and he is able to save. But in order to rescue us, he’ll have to dive into the deep end of death to fish us out and revive us. He doesn’t need saving. I do. You do. Jesus will not let a senseless dare lure him away from his mission to save. Hallelujah!

I know you’ve saved me, Jesus. And that’s all I need to know.

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