That God is a God who sees and hears the cries of the poor and oppressed is comforting. That God is a God who, in Jesus, has experienced and endured the worst of our world’s inhumanity, oppression, and injustice is astounding. Despite all the compassion and goodness Jesus demonstrated in His life and ministry, His death came as a result of hatred, jealousy, and injustice.
From Jesus’ anguished prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane to His arrest, “trials”, torture, mocking, crucifixion, and death, He endured a grueling ordeal of pain, cruelty, evil, and oppressive power. All of this was exacerbated by the innocence, purity, and goodness of the One who suffered it: “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:7-8, NIV). Through the lens of salvation’s story, we see the beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but we should not forget the brutality of the suffering and injustice He experienced.
Read Isaiah 53:3-6. What does this tell us about what happened to Jesus, the innocent suffering for the guilty? How does this help us understand what He went through in our behalf?
In Jesus, God knows what it feels like to be a victim of evil and injustice. The execution of an innocent man is an outrage; the murder of the son of God more so. God has so identified Himself with us in our broken and fallen condition that we cannot doubt His empathy, compassion, and faithfulness: “For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15, NIV). What a revelation of the character of our God! How do we even begin to wrap our minds around the good news about God that the cross represents?
|In all that we do for the Lord, especially in reaching out to the needy, why must we always keep the death of Jesus, as our Substitute—not just for ourselves but for those whom we help—at the center of our mission and purpose?|