(with a big salute to Michael Card)
When that moment came, He took the initiative and arrived on the scene. In kindness He reached out to us with tangible expressions of His love – a healing touch, the pleasure of His company, a word of forgiveness. His kindness was refreshing, because it touched those who weren’t used to receiving it.
He was criticized, questioned, suspected, and ultimately undermined by jealous people. But there wasn’t a jealous bone in His body.
He went toe-to-toe with an establishment of hypocrites who loved to parade themselves before men. But in spite of His immense popularity, He never flaunted Himself.
He was constantly surrounded by people with inflated views of their own importance. Yet everybody was important to Him. He never thought Himself too important or too busy for anybody.
He lived within the confines of His culture with grace and dignity. He was and still is a courteous guest – always polite, never rude or demanding. And while at times He endured rudeness, he never returned it.
“Give to whoever asks of you,” He once said. And He lived that. You would never have heard Him argue or seen Him pout over getting His own way.
Surrounded daily by angry people, He never let it get to Him. Confronted daily by hostile people, He spoke the truth. But He did it in love. Frustrated almost hourly by ignorant followers, He never “flew off the handle.” He just loved them. And taught them.
Oh, the grace! Oh, the forgiveness He offered. Mercy-on-the-spot. “Neither do I condemn you,” He said once. “Go and sin no more.” Done. Finished. End of story. No probations, no warnings, no public displays of sin lists. Just forgiveness that truly forgets.
He told the truth about sin, no matter where the sin took place. His first message was a call to repentance. And while He offered forgiveness, He never came to redefine what sin was. He still hasn’t. He also rejoiced with anyone and everyone who lived the truth. He may have been the only one doing it, but He did it. Not a lot of praise those days for women, Samaritans, prostitutes, or tax collectors. But He caught people doing something right and celebrated it with them.
When someone sinned, He offered them a covering. When others believed the worst, He believed the best – and brought out the best – in people. When people refused to listen and understand, He was like the Father of the Prodigal, who confidently awaited their return. He embodied hope, especially for that motley crew of ordinary men who were His disciples.
He offered the very best. He endured our very worst. He loved us the most at the very moment we hated Him the most. A loving God took on flesh; we crushed it. He reached out with a gentle, healing hand; we pierced it. Strangely enough, He knew in advance what He would endure. And He endured it anyway.
“Love never fails,” Paul said. Indeed. Three days later, Love Crucified arose.
“And the grave became a place of hope, for the heart that sin and sorrow broke was beating once again.”
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