Jesus lived hunted by enemies. Encircled by hatred, he healed the sick, delivered the oppressed and even raised the dead. Conniving, bitter jealousy churned the crowds around him and yet he spoke of love, forgiveness and gentleness.
When his betrayer, the one who had already sold him for a pile of money, sat down at the table, Jesus shared his meal – no raging condemnation.
When the small minded, self protective, blood lusting bound him, punched him, kicked him, spit on him and whipped him, he endured. And when, finally, they stripped him and nailed him to a cross, he prayed for them.
I have to stop here because I know he invites me to follow. He says; I’m showing you the way. Walk in it. Love your enemies. Pray for those who curse you. Forgive those who abuse you.
I take a deep breath.
If he were the only one who had faced evil in the world, then I could call him a hero and walk away. But he’s not the only one. Not by a long shot.
Girls in northern Nigeria. Christians in Iraq. African-American mothers in Cleveland. Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Me. You. All of us, really.
Of course I pause. I stop, breathe. I have to, because his example is so hard.
Jesus hung naked on a cross, so hideously abused. And in the midst of his suffering, he asked God the Father to forgive the conniving, the bitter, the jealous, the betrayers, the psychopaths and the hypocrites, the violent abusers – all of them. He asked God the Father to forgive them all.
I want laws, smart bombs, anything, anything that would deliver schoolgirls in Nigeria, Christians in Iraq, African-American mothers in Cleveland and Syrian children. Anything that would deliver me from the hands of psychopaths and hypocrites.
Jesus faced them, endured them and then forgave them.
God, it’s hard to follow you! Help me. Help us all.