This Sunday will conclude our Anabaptist history series. Linden will have another interesting story for us. Our story this week includes war, refugees, oppression, among other things. Sounds like it could be a story from the present.
It seems like injustice has always been a part of human history. This week I am sitting with end of the Joseph story…
15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
How do we act when we have been mistreated?
Are we looking for revenge?
Are we hoping God will smite them?
Are we praying for bad things to happen to the ones who have mistreated us?
Are you surprised by Joseph’s response?
I am also sitting with Luke 23:18-43
18-20 At that, the crowd went wild: “Kill him! Give us Barabbas!” (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.
21 But they kept shouting back, “Crucify! Crucify him!”
22 He tried a third time. “But for what crime? I’ve found nothing in him deserving death. I’m going to warn him to watch his step and let him go.”
23-25 But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.
26-31 As they led him off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they’ll say, ‘Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!’ Then they’ll start calling to the mountains, ‘Fall down on us!’ calling to the hills, ‘Cover us up!’ If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they’ll do with deadwood?”
32 Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.
33 When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.
34-35 Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, “He saved others. Let’s see him save himself! The Messiah of God—ha! The Chosen—ha!”
36-37 The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: “So you’re King of the Jews! Save yourself!”
38 Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!”
40-41 But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”
43 He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”
If Jesus is our ultimate example, what can we learn from him in the last hours of his life.
Jesus didn’t model a life that was fair, free from persecution, comfortable, nor secure.
What Jesus did model was a life connected to God, so that no matter what happens, we stay connected to God.
Is it easier to feel connected to God during comfortable times or difficult times?
Can you think of times when you were part of a group that was oppressing others?
Can you think of a time when you were being oppressed?
Can you think of a time when you helped others who were being oppressed?
Let’s talk about it on Sunday.
~ Pastor Dustin