“He Suffered for All the Right Reasons”
Isaiah 53: 3-9; Mark 10: 35-45
Pearl: The kingdom heart in Jesus led to his suffering and death.
Function: To review various situations from Jesus’ life which demonstrate the “kingdom heart” lived out and to prepare worshippers that living according to Jesus’ Way can bring suffering our way as well.
A woman and man were discovered in a scandalous affair (John 8). The woman was secured and taken into the custody of the Scribes and the Pharisees.
- Jesus was teaching in the temple. Many had gathered to listen to him. In that moment of instruction as Jesus spoke to the crowd this woman was brought to him by the Scribes and Pharisees.
- They made her stand before Jesus and the whole gathering.
- They reminded Jesus of the Law of Moses which demanded that the adulterer be stoned to death.
- Scripture says that they did this to test Jesus.
- What a scene! Can you imagine being the woman? Can you imagine being the man who was with her? Did he wonder if he would be next? Or were they just going to punish the woman?
- Imagine what was going through Jesus’ mind. So many thoughts. He understood everyone there. He empathized with everyone there.
- A volatile moment, everyone looked, listened, and waited to see how Jesus would respond.
- Jesus knew the Law that to which they referred.
- He bent down and began writing in the dirt. I like reflecting on what he may have written in the dirt.
- They continued pressing him for a response. Finally he stood up and said, “Whoever is without sin may throw the first stone.” Then he bent down and began writing in the dirt again. I imagine he was writing some of the sins of the accusers such that they could see what he was writing—maybe even the name of the man who was with her.
- They began to slink away one at a time until no accuser was left.
This instance of compassion, empathy, and justice was one among many others which led to Jesus suffering for all the right reasons!
Another time some faithful friends carried their friend who was paralyzed on a bed of some kind to Jesus so that Jesus might heal him from his paralysis (Matthew 9; Mark 2). This is the group who dug a hole in the roof of a house where Jesus was because it was so crowded. They dropped their friend right down in front of Jesus.
- When Jesus saw this man who was paralyzed he said, “Your sins are forgiven!”
- There were some in the crowd, Scribes, who almost covered their ears over what Jesus had just said. They protested, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?! They believed Jesus to be blaspheming.
- To blaspheme is to speak as if you are God or to make light of God; to profane the One Holy God.
- But Jesus’ word was good. His “yes” was “yes.” He meant what he said. Jesus command for healing and deliverance from paralysis was literally realized.
- Knowing what they were thinking, Jesus asked, “Which is easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘rise, take up your mat and walk?’
- But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—he said to the paralytic—‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’”
- The man did as Jesus said and most were amazed at what they saw and they praised God for it.
- Jesus’ words were full of healing and they were full of good.
This incident was one among many which led to his suffering for all of the right reasons.
One time Jesus walked up to a well where people would go daily to draw the water they needed for the day (John 4:7).
- It was the heat of the day and Jesus needed to rest for a bit at the cool well.
- While he was there a Samaritan woman approached to draw water. Jesus asked her to draw a cup of cold water for him to drink. By even speaking to her Jesus violated protocol in talking to a Samaritan, and a Samaritan “woman,” at that.
- Samaritans were enemies of the Jews. Jesus, of course, was a Jew.
- Jesus told her that she really should have asked him for a drink of “living water.” She thought him strange because he didn’t even have a bucket to dip into the well.
- He continued by explaining this “living water” and asked her to retrieve her husband. She said she had no husband. He said, “Right, you have had five husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband.” She realized that he was a prophet and she partook of his living water that very day.
- Jesus broke protocol that day as he respected a woman, and a woman who was a Samaritan enemy. He did not see her as a “Samaritan enemy” but as a human being created and loved by God.
This was another incident among many which led to Jesus’ suffering for all of the right reasons.
Jesus was eventually taken prisoner by the leaders of his own faith family, tried, handed over to secular officials, again tried, then tortured and finally crucified. Many of the things which happened to him were fulfillments of some of the very words describing the “suffering servant,” Israel, in Isaiah 53. These ancient words pre-figured the suffering Jesus would endure one day. All through Jesus’ ordeal his “kingdom heart” kept beating until the final beat.
- When soldiers arrived and arrested Jesus, one of Jesus’ friends and followers pulled out a sword and struck a soldier cutting off his ear. Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). Then he restored the man’s ear.
- The kingdom heart says, “Do not return evil for evil.”
- The High Priest Caiaphas put Jesus on the spot. He said, “I put you on oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (Matt. 26:63). Jesus said, “You have said so. But I tell you, ‘From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
- Jesus was a man of his word. His “yes” was “yes.” The High Priest thought it was blasphemy; the “kingdom heart” in Jesus could not tell a lie.
- Those who put him on trial spit on his face, struck him, and some slapped him. He did not return any blows or any spit. He “turned the other cheek.”
- The “kingdom heart” in him would not let him return like for like. He could not return evil for evil.
- As Jesus hung on the cross he noticed his mother. He looked at one of his closest friends and followers and said, “Son, behold your mother; mother behold your son.”
- It was the “kingdom heart” in him which led him to care for his mother, a widow who was now about to lose a son. He was concerned for her welfare. Jesus was dedicated to ensure that those living on the margins of society and who were in danger of falling through the cracks were cared for. As he suffered he was trying to take care of his own mother.
- While he hung on the cross, Jesus prayed out loud, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
- It was his “kingdom heart,” full of grace and compassion, which helped him to love his enemies and to pray for his enemies.
Through his arrest, trial, torture, and crucifixion, Jesus ultimately and perfectly demonstrated the “kingdom heart.” Because of Christ’s “labor of love” born of the “kingdom heart” all can enter into eternal life. Love won and love wins! Jesus suffered for all the right reasons.
All are welcome to all of the rewards and fruits of what Jesus accomplished through his suffering love. Christ followers are urged to live with this same “kingdom heart.” But doing so will bring you into a shared suffering with your Lord. Consider Israel who was the “suffering servant” about which Isaiah wrote.
- As followers of Jesus we enter into a “fellowship of suffering.” The Apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Philippian church. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if I somehow may attain the resurrection from the dead” (3:10, 11).
- Those who live in the Way of Jesus can expect to join a community of suffering and face misunderstanding.
- Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16: 24, 25).
- John Pavlovitz just came out with a new book. In it he describes some of the core nature of followers of Jesus, this kingdom heart which should characterize his church and which may lead us to suffer for all the right reasons:
- “Birthed in the heart of the Roman Empire, with all its might, greed, and coercive power, Christianity was the humble, compassionate, generous resistance to all of it…” (If God is Love Don’t Be a Jerk: Finding a Faith that Makes us Better Humans, p. 185).
- John went on to describe some of the content of the “kingdom heart” which may cause Christ followers to suffer:
- You “don’t treat [people] as less worthy of love, respect, dignity, joy, and opportunity than you are.
- You don’t create caricatures of [people] based on their skin color, their religion, their sexual orientation, the amount of money they have, or the circumstances they find themselves in.
- You don’t seek to take away things from them that you already enjoy in abundance: civil rights, clean water, education, marriage, access to health care.
- You don’t tell someone else’s story for them about why they are poor, depressed, addicted, victimized, or alone. Let them tell their story and believe they know better than you do.
- You don’t imagine that your experience of the world is everyone’s experience of the world; that the ease, comfort, support, affection you have received are universal.
- [You are not] preoccupied with how someone experiences God, how they define family, whom they love. Cultivate your own faith, family, and marriage” (p. 134).
Jesus suffered for all of the right reasons, reasons which define the “kingdom heart,” and Jesus’ kingdom heart never missed a beat!
As our beating, “kingdom hearts” bring us into Christ’s community of suffering may this lead to none other than the transformation of all things through the relentless and eternal love of God!