“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.“- Luke 6:22-25
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”– Luke 6:22-31.
The words of Jesus Christ, as clear as can be. Do you think you truly belong to Him? Do you Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy when you are unpopular with the crowd, the Twitterverse, the social justice mob, or those who hate your savior? That part has been easy for me since Jesus Christ claimed me in 1986. That’s my personality. Much harder, for me at least, is Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. In fact, no matter how much I love my savior, almost everything He commands is difficult for His followers.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” – Luke 6:46-49
But we know we should build on the Rock, not on sand, or some other shaky foundation. How do we do that?“With his stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5 “Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of his flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over his poor stricken body. Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon him without tears, as he stands before you the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of his own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which his stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief?”
That meditation by Charles Spurgeon holds the key. If you have trouble imagining what our savior went through, gladly, for us, I recommend you watch the movie, The Passion Of Christ. I think of those images frequently, not just with horror, but with gratitude. But something else is needed. Diligence in Vigilance.
“And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.”2 Samuel 21:10.
“If the love of a woman to her slain sons could make her prolong her mournful vigil for so long a period, shall we weary of considering the sufferings of our blessed Lord? She drove away the birds of prey, and shall not we chase from our meditations those worldly and sinful thoughts which defile both our minds and the sacred themes upon which we are occupied? She bore the heats of summer, the night dews and the rains, unsheltered and alone. Sleep was chased from her weeping eyes: her heart was too full for slumber. Behold how she loved her children! Shall Rizpah thus endure, and shall we start at the first little inconvenience or trial? Are we such cowards that we cannot bear to suffer with our Lord? She chased away even the wild beasts. These her children were slain by other hands than hers, and yet she wept and watched: what ought we to do who have by our sins crucified our Lord? Our obligations are boundless, our love should be fervent and our repentance thorough. To watch with Jesus should be our business, to protect his honor our occupation, to abide by his cross our solace. Those ghastly corpses might well have frightened Rizpah, especially by night, but in our Lord, at whose cross-foot we are sitting, there is nothing revolting, but everything attractive.”
This meditation by Spurgeon is instructive. 7 sons of Saul were put to death for the sins of their father, even though they were personally innocent of the crimes. Two sons of Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, and five sons of Merab, Saul’s daughter, were hanged. Look at Rizpah’s diligence in vigilance. What about Merab? No mention is made of her vigil, she passes from history with nothing to her credit. Rizpah’s love for her sons modeled Christ’s love for His children.
Shall we be Rizpah, or Merab? Shall we court popularity with the crowd, or care only for our Savior? Shall we live for ourselves and our own pleasures, or shall we obey Christ?