Summary: What do we do when life treats us unfairly? This look at the trial of Jesus shows us trust life’s inequities to God’s sovereignty.
“The Mark of Contentment”
Think with me for a moment about your greatest injustice. When did everything that was right seem to be turned upside down? What happened that made you really question the fairness of life, others, America…even God?
I’m sure many of you have stories involving situations like a deserting spouse, an unforeseen affair, an unfair accusation, an undeserved family crisis, an unexpected layoff. In fact, even as I’m looking at many of you whom I’ve known over the years, I can recall situations that were unfair for you. Unjust. Upside down. And my heart is affected, even now as I speak, by the memory of what I know was painful for you.
Mine is not near as memorable as some of yours, but it is what I know. So at least it is personal. I was a young youth pastor in Augusta, GA, doing my best to train a group of kids to reach out to others. Granted – some of my ideas met resistance (imagine that!), and the culture there turned out to be very different than what was actually communicated to me at the beginning. However, I figured everyone wanted to obey the Great Commission and make disciples, so that’s what I set out to do – make disciples who would make disciples!
But disciplemaking is a messy business. And when crowds of kids getting saved started upsetting church traditions, routines and comfort zones, I found that the elephant in the room can be a mighty big creature to take down, even one bite at a time.
For instance, one day I was asked to promote a special speaker we were having – Let’s call him “Joe Miles” – by advertising his appearance on our church sign. After posting the sign letter by letter, which read “Come hear Joe Miles this Wednesday,” I asked our pastor’s secretary, “Do you need any help hosting Joe’s visit?”
“No,” she said, “he’s not really speaking here live. We’re just going to play a video of his message.”
Hearing that, I politely inquired of our pastor about the sign and if he wanted a different reading. The answer? “Of course not! It might actually make some folks not attend.”
Things like that just didn’t settle well with me. It seemed like an obvious untruth, yet no one seemed too worried about it. Still, my actions regarding discipemaking – biblical evangelism – were dissected and evaluated weekly. And if anything I did with kids brought accidental damage to the church sanctuary or unintentionally dirtied up the church vehicle or inadvertently caused schedule conflicts with the existing dead, dry ministries, I was brought in for a verbal lashing.
So you can imagine my surprise and shock when, one day at staff meeting, the Pastor’s wife looked at me, pointed her finger, and said, “You’re taking our youth down the wrong road!” Whoa! Sure enough, that was the feeling of most everyone in the room. And sure enough, that began a discussion about why I didn’t really fit.
As I left the meeting, I was curious why promotional untruths were okay, but honest, messy disciplemaking was out of line. And as I thought about that the rest of the evening, I actually agreed – I didn’t fit! Unfortunately, my departure, though polite, was political. And I left Augusta silently.
Looking back, I am so thankful my mouth had invisible duct tape across it. Though I didn’t understand a lot about that situation then, I’ve come to learn that God was working on a larger plan and from a bigger perspective. And the quieter I kept the quicker he could work. Yes, what seemed like human inequity in action was actually divine sovereignty in motion.
Add to your experience and mine the many “kangaroo courts” that happen in our country every year, much like the O.J. Simpson trial of 1995, and you can begin to see why there is distrust among people when it comes to the words ‘justice’ and ‘equity.’
Yet, none of the injustices we have described or mentioned would come close to describing the injustice of Christ’s arrest and trial. It is documented in Luke 23, and what a picture of manipulation, deceit, bias, and unfairness. Turn there, would you?
Notice some textual highlights:
• What really jumps out to me in 22:66-23:5 is the way injustice was shown in what was said. Tons of false accusations and untrue statements were made. Yet, our Lord’s ability to be completely truthful without being defensive is amazing. Jesus always spoke the truth and nothing more. He didn’t defend himself, although he did declare the truth. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 53:7-9) where it is said that he was “led as a lamb to the slaughter.”