Exquisite Tenderness – Being Christlike in the Crucible of Suffering
In February 1555 John Hooper was burnt at the stake under the orders of Queen “Bloody” Mary. His crime was opposing Catholicism.
At any point, right up to the moment of execution, Hooper could have signed a recantation of his teachings and have been set free. Instead, before a crowd of about 7,000 onlookers, he marched cheerfully to his death. He was not permitted to address the crowd but he prayed aloud that God would give him the strength to endure the pain to God’s glory.
Because the logs were green and the wind was gusty that day the flames failed to rise above his waist. Hooper’s legs burnt badly and his bowels tore open, yet he refrained from crying out in pain. At one stage he uttered his forgiveness of the young man who was responsible for building the fire.
The fire had to be relit three times until eventually, a weak flame lapped at Hooper’s chest and face. He stood fully conscious in the flames for 45 minutes, beating his chest until his arm fell off. His lips burnt off, his tongue swelled, and his fingers melted until finally, he died. All the while without crying out from the pain.
Where did the martyrs learn such tenderness, mercy, patience, and fortitude?
From their Lord and Savior in his time of suffering on the cross. At the close of this passion week, let us consider Luke 23:33-43.
3 Responses Of Jesus In Suffering So We Will Be Like Him In Trials
1. Forgive Ignorance Like Jesus Did
Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Are you familiar with the term “exquisite tenderness”?
Exquisite means rare and extreme beauty.
Tenderness can mean considerate, gentle, and protective.
But when the two terms are combined, the concept has the exact opposite sense. It is a medical term often used of burn victims, meaning intense agony to the touch.
Jesus on the cross is a picture of this complex idea. The intense physical pain of crucifixion translates directly into a rare exquisite beauty and a protective tender gentleness.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
This must be one of the most poignant and touching moments in the history of redemption. It so aptly captures the love, grace, and mercy that our God is and has for sinners. This is our Savior. This is our Jesus.
Here, in the very moment that his hands are being nailed to the cross by a lowly pagan Roman soldier, Jesus’ reflex is to pray for the people harming him, that they would come to no harm. This is the very epitome of grace.
This is what Jesus modeled, this is what Jesus commanded, and this is what Jesus requires of all believers.
Colossians 3:13 …forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
This is not going above and beyond what is expected of you and me. Like only super Christians forgive those who don’t deserve it. No, this is basic, normal Christianity. To be a Christian is to be a forgiver.
Stephen got it. Acts 7:59-60 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
How are you doing as an example?
Imagine how your driving experience would improve if you forgave that rude driver before he could even ask for it.
Imagine how your church would function, imagine your marriage or your family—if everyone involved just gushed with forgiveness and mercy.
2. Forbear Insults Like Jesus Did
Luke 23:35-37 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
These insults are caustic and sarcastic. The irony was that Jesus at any moment could have proven he was able to do the very things they were taunting him for not being able to do.
But he had a greater goal in mind: the glory of God.
1 Pet 2:22-23 He committed no sin, … When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
Jesus trusted that God makes all things right.
This is the standard for you and me as Christians.
If you want to be Christlike in trials, you need to develop the skill of forbearing under insults, showing your trust in God to do right and so serving God’s glory.
3. Foresee Intimacy With Jesus
Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
This is a precious and intimate moment. Jesus is the Savior to the last.
The thief starts off mocking Jesus too, but when he sees how Jesus forgives ignorance and forbears insults, he becomes convinced that Jesus is who he claims to be.
He believes in Jesus and then entrusts his soul to Jesus.
The thief didn’t walk an aisle, pray a prayer, or get baptized. He did absolutely nothing to earn salvation or pay back what he had done. He just believed. He is the poster boy of grace by faith alone!
That is the gospel.
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” This is the most comforting truth you can know, this is the way to persevere through life’s trials and injustices: that you will be with Jesus in glory.
If you want to be Christlike, take heart, for once you forgive ignorance, forbear insults and foresee intimacy with Jesus, you will be more like him in this life, and you will be just like him in the next.
But if you have not accepted Jesus’ death for you on the cross, then you have no hope of an eternity with him. At this Easter time consider your great need for salvation and consider our Savior’s great sacrifice for you and, like the thief on the cross, trust Jesus alone to take you home with him
from The Cripplegate https://ift.tt/2Jehvbw