The Marginalized Crucified Jesus

Today’s reading is Matthew 27.

There is an increasingly romanticized notion about the life and ministry of Jesus. To hear it told today, Jesus came into town, ticked off all the oppressive elites, while He called all the marginalized, vulnerable, oppressed people to Himself just loving on them until they turned their lives over to Him. But those wicked, awful Roman oppressors and hypocritical religious elites got Jesus crucified. Have you ever noticed though who actually got Jesus crucified? It was the crowds. It was the marginalized, vulnerable, weak common people. Pilate knew the religious elites had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous. That is, he knew Jesus had garnered a following among the people of which the Jewish leaders were envious. So, Pilate, backed into a corner because of his own political situation and trying to get out of crucifying Jesus without causing a career ending riot, decided to give the decision to the people–the oppressed, vulnerable, marginalized people whom Jesus had welcomed, touched, loved, served, healed, cleansed. And they shouted, “Crucify Him!!!” They chose a known thief, murderer, and insurrectionist to be set free. Of course, the priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to do this. But how? Up until then, they hadn’t taken action because they feared the crowds. But somehow on that day they were able to persuade the crowds. And here is the key we need to understand. The vulnerable, oppressed, weak, poor, marginalized crowds turned on Jesus for the exact same reason the scribes, elders, priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees did. Jesus didn’t measure up to the kind of Messiah they expected or wanted. As far as every one of these groups was concerned, Jesus had demonstrated He didn’t come to serve their interests. And so they were pliable. A week earlier, they were ready to make Jesus King. But He hadn’t come in doing what they expected, so today, they were amenable to His execution. Wow! The amazing thing was, there wasn’t a single person in that crowd that if you had asked them would have said, “Why yes, I think the Messiah should be crucified.” Yet, they ended up doing so because they all, with just a handful of exceptions (perhaps 120), decided this guy couldn’t possibly be the Messiah because He didn’t act the way they wanted Him to. I know I need to take that as a warning.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 28.

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Don’t Wait for Strength

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 12.

When it comes to spreading the gospel, many of us are waiting around until we are strong enough, smart enough, good enough. Don’t! We are strongest when we are content with our weakness. Don’t misunderstand, if you don’t know what the gospel is or means, don’t try to share it with someone. But the heart of the gospel is that we are not strong enough, therefore we need Jesus. Why then would we wait around until we are strong enough to teach the gospel to teach it? Step out in faith. Step out in reliance upon God. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. Sure, there will be embarrassing moments. But you’ll never be strong enough to convert people, so why wait around for that. Recognize how weak you are and step out onto the gospel battlefield with your faith in the Lord. It is His gospel that is powerful enough to save, not your strengths or smarts.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 13.

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Bear with the Weak

Today’s reading is Romans 15.

Bear with the weak? Really? Are you sure? Shouldn’t the weak get strong, like me? Why would I bear with the weak? Shouldn’t I challenge the weak? Shouldn’t I instruct the weak? Shouldn’t I give ultimatums to the weak? Shouldn’t I let them know God wants strong Christians, not weak Christians? There may be some need for all these other approaches to the weak. But I believe what Paul is saying is, “I sure am glad Jesus bears with me in my weakness instead of pleasing himself. Perhaps I should do the same for others.” Thank God for Jesus’s patience, forbearance, long-suffering, and kindness in the midst of my weakness and in the midst of yours.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 16.

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Live to the Lord

Today’s reading is Romans 14.

No doubt, there are a lot of confusing things about what Paul says in Romans 14. No doubt, there are plenty of disagreements surrounding it. I can’t answer all those. But surely one thing is certain. However I live, however I behave, however I speak, however I act, however I conduct myself, it is to be unto the Lord. I have been saved by the Lord. I have bowed the knee in allegiance to my Savior and King, Jesus Christ. My choices today are not based on my tastes, preferences, likes, and dislikes. My choices today are made in order to honor Jesus, my King. Live to the Lord today, that way you can die to the Lord tomorrow. Whether in life or in death, you are the Lord’s.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 15.

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The Real Strength

Today’s reading is Romans 4.

Can I correct what I believe is a common misunderstanding. To some, this may just seem like being worried about words, but I think the way we say things sometimes misleads us and has negative consequences. I have said and heard many others say, “If God commanded it, you can do it. God won’t command anything you can’t do.” I’d like to modify that. “If God commanded it, He will strengthen you to do it. God won’t command anything and leave you helpless to accomplish it.” Consider Abraham. God promised a descendant. But Abraham knew his body and Sarah’s womb were dead. Yet, he was fully convinced God was able to do what He promised. Abraham’s faith was not in his own ability to obey God’s precepts, but in God’s ability to keep His promises. Therefore, he kept stepping out in faith. He knew that with God, he could mount up on wings like eagles, he could run and not be weary, walk and not faint. So, he jumped off the cliff, he started running, he put one foot in front of the other, not because he believed he could do those things, but because He believed God would do those things through Him. Then when he was done, he gave the glory to God because he knew God was the strength. Don’t obey God today thinking, “I can obviously do this because God tells me to.” Instead, obey God today, take those footsteps of faith, thinking, “God will do this through me because He tells me to.”

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 5.

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Count Your Many Weaknesses

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 12.

We overlook some of our greatest blessings because they don’t seem like blessings. Paul said he would boast in his weaknesses. Why? Because only when he was weak could he be strong. Only when he knew how weak he was would he cast himself on God and allow God’s strength to flow through him. Today, as you count your blessings, count your weaknesses. Not so you can live in them, but so based on them you will realize how much you need God and you will turn to Him. Then be amazed at the strength He provides as you rely on Him. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 13.

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