Kindness, Wickedness, & The Cross of Christ

 

How amazing the kindness of the Lord.

I’ve never been as astounded at the gravity of Jesus’ kindness to go to the cross as I was this Easter.

Each year I find myself anticipating Easter out of routine and excitement over what God has done but without really grasping the magnitude of it. It’s easy to miss what He actually had to go through. It’s easy to not connect with it because I’ve never been tortured like He was. It’s easy to be happy and joyful but not actually see the reality of what Jesus went through.

I remember when I first watched the Passion of the Christ. I was around 13 years old in a crowded movie theater. Sounds of popcorn crunching and soda slurping soon turned to weeping and sniffling.

It was terribly hard to watch.

But I couldn’t cry.

Tears would not fall. I was trying to make myself cry because what I saw was so heart–wrenching, but I couldn’t. I was in shock but I couldn’t cry. I wanted to feel devastated and so in love with this man who I saw being tortured to death. But I felt like I couldn’t connect. I felt like I didn’t know Him very well. And it bothered me. I remember leaving the movie theater seeing everybody in tears and I wasn’t…I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt so cold and heartless. I felt like I wasn’t connected to Jesus and that my lack of tears hurt His feelings.

It’s fascinating to me when I think back to that experience, how much I’ve changed and how much this whole Christianity thing really is about relationship. The more you get to know someone, the more connected you are to him or her. The more you go through with someone, the more bonded you are with him or her.

This year, I watched a passion play with my mom.

At first, I was merely watching it for entertainment, again forgetting the magnitude of what Jesus had done. How easy it is to let a holiday disengage us from what we’re actually celebrating.

Then after about an hour, we arrived at the scene where Jesus was carrying His cross.

And my heart started to break as I watched the people walking with Him yelling at Him and the centurions whipping Him over and over again… it made me so mad!

I wanted to yell back at them and tell them to stop yelling at Him and stop whipping Him, to leave Him alone! Don’t you realize who you are doing that to!? Don’t you realize that is God right there that you are yelling at and whipping!? Then I remembered that I was watching a play and I couldn’t yell at the actors. They would think I’m a crazy person.

But I just could not believe what I was watching.

I couldn’t believe my eyes…

It was as if I was learning about all of this for the very first time… It was as if I was witnessing wickedness for the very first time… I just couldn’t believe the wickedness that I saw in humanity… the evil… the hatred… the ignorance… that they would treat anybody like that is already sickening but to do that to the Son of God?! Is humanity really so wicked? Is humanity really so blind? We are. We are that wicked. We are that blind. I was greatly disturbed.

As I looked at Jesus, again I could not believe my eyes.

Jesus just kept walking and let them yell at Him…

He kept walking and let them whip Him…

I couldn’t believe it.

Why won’t you make them stop, Lord!?

Why won’t you at least tell them they are wicked and defend yourself and tell them they will get what’s coming to them!

But Jesus didn’t say a word.

Jesus didn’t say a word.

He walked in silence.

And let them nail Him down to a cross like He wasn’t even a person.

One of the few phrases He even uttered was a phrase of forgiveness, in Luke 23:34:

“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Know not they do!?

Surely, Lord, they do know what they are doing to You!!! Why won’t you just be mad at them and tell them they are all going to hell!

This is what I am thinking as I watched this play. I couldn’t believe that Jesus would let them be jerks to him and not even say anything to them about it, and on top of all of that decided that he would ask God to forgive them! It’s insane! No. It’s Jesus. It’s Jesus.

Jesus is so kind.

Watching this played out, I saw such kindness.

Kindness that I have never quite seen before while thinking about Easter.

Sure I’ve always thought Wow, God, You are so loving to do what you did for us and Oh thank You God for dying for me! But I never saw the kindness. And to me, kindness really overwhelms me when I see it. It blows me away. Even more than love.

Because kindness is harder than love, I think.

When you love someone, you will do anything for them. But kindness involves being kind to those you don’t necessarily love. It means being kind to those who hurt you. Kind to those who badmouth you. Kind to those who disrespect you. And that’s hard. That’s real hard. But Jesus showed kindness to the very ones who murdered Him and disrespected Him. And that is extremely moving for me to comprehend.

I’m greatly astounded and almost perplexed at the kindness of Jesus in the midst of His crucifixion.

How can someone in so much pain be so kind to the wicked?

His forgiveness.

His forgiveness is unlike anything we can comprehend.

It’s as if Jesus had a posture of pre-forgiveness, like He already forgave them. Like He already possessed the ability to forgive anyone at any time for anything no matter what…because he immediately demonstrated forgiveness to those who murdered Him. He didn’t need time to process it and finally decide begrudgingly that He would forgive them, nor does He do that to you or I. No. Jesus forgives immediately. Instantaneously. As if he doesn’t even need to think about it. He just forgives right then.

What if we forgave like that?

What if we had a posture of pre-forgiveness, so that we live life already prepared to forgive before anyone ever wrongs us?

I guarantee it would transform the way we interact with people.

I guarantee it would dissolve any ounce of animosity.

I guarantee it would fill us with peace in any and every circumstance.

I guarantee it would heal your heart.

I’m overwhelmed by the cross. It’s because of the cross of Christ that I have been forgiven of everything I’ve done and ever will do wrong. All of it is instantaneously wiped away. It’s so unbelievably amazing. That Jesus would forgive wicked people, showing them kindness in His greatest moment of pain, all because He loved His people and wanted a relationship with them. Because of this He defeated evil.

You see, at the cross of Christ, kindness and wickedness intersect.

And God squashes out the evil!

God defeats the enemy!

Kindness triumphs.

Wickedness loses.

Kindness is victorious.

Wickedness is disgraced.

Because of Christ, the cross wins.

The cross of Christ.

Now I see why Jesus remained silent.

Jesus didn’t have to speak up for Himself.

The cross did that.

The cross spoke up for Him.

The cross defended His name.

The cross displays to everyone who He really is.

The centurion down beneath Jesus watching Him die as He hung on the cross looked up at Jesus and knew it was true. Mark 15:39 records it:

“And when the centurion, who stood facing Him saw that in this way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ ’’

I’m so thankful that Jesus is not like us. He really is holy. He really is majestic. He really is worthy. He really is kind. Let your soul be refreshed today knowing that Jesus is full of kindness for you and went through all that He went through because He really does want you! He wants you to be His. You can know Him today if you ask Him to. Let Him love you.

I pray that we would be a people of radical kindness like Jesus. May we show kindness in the midst of wickedness. May we display the cross of Christ in our own lives through this demonstration. Praise God for His kindness towards us when we were wicked in our sin. Thank You, Lord, for teaching us how to love. Thank You for Easter. May we never forget how glorious You are.

 

 

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

–John 15:13–

“City of Hope” by Amanda Cook

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