Wednesday, April 24, 2013

31 For if they do these things when the wood is green...

“And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23: 26-31)
Jesus, it seems still has a few admirers in Jerusalem. They follow him out to his crucifixion mourning with sympathy. But Jesus tells them he doesn’t need their sympathy. They should weep for themselves. Jesus doesn’t demand sympathy, but repentance and faith. “If they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” When they crucify an innocent man, what will then happen to them? They have rejected his gospel. What will they do to those who proclaim it? We are once again confronted with the fact that Jesus does not offer the Christian an easy life. Many of us are actually quite lucky to have lived a rather pleasant one any way.
I always find that odd. I mean there are people who are martyred for the faith even today. Many of us don’t experience this. We all have our own hardships to deal with though. And perhaps we meet with other types of persecution. Here in Utah, I have had my kids from church ostracized for being Christian. That is tough. You kind of wonder how parents, who claim to be Christian as the Mormons now do, could raise their kids to hate another for wearing a cross. The parents shrug their shoulders and say, not my child, my child would never do that. It is an odd thing. It often hurts the parents even more than it hurts the children.
Then again, when they persecute you for his name’s sake, well then you are blessed. Try to make sure it is for his name’s sake, and not because you are just a jerk. I see that too. People claiming to be persecuted and maligned for the gospel, but when I listen to them I honestly wonder if they have ever heard the gospel much less shared it. I’m sorry, but when you act holier than thou because a person cussed in front of you, or badger people about smoking in the name of Christ, or rant and rave about the evils of drink, or heaven forbid, that because you as a pastor can’t bear to see a Christmas tree in the chancel, especially before the third Sunday in Advent, or the acolytes wearing tennishoes, and therefore are having trouble with your elders and others, you are not being maligned for the gospel. You are being maligned for being an asshole. Christians used to be persecuted for believing in the forgiveness of sins, because society thought that was going to destroy its fabric. That is being persecuted for the gospel. To be maligned for the gospel you actually have to preach and share the gospel. And then when you do that, you don’t care so much anymore. It’s the gospel. You finally realize it isn’t about you. Jesus Christ died for your sins. Jesus Christ has given you life. You realize you know longer have reason to be offended by uncouth language, or what other people do and say, because you are one of them, and Jesus died for you anyway, precisely because you are a sinner. And then you realize he died for those who offend you, he died for those who persecute you. He died for them that they would have life. And you pray the dry wood becomes green again, because you know only Jesus can do that. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

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