Being a Christian is all about Jesus Christ. Our salvation is based on Him and what He did for us on the cross. Our communion with Him through the words of the Bible, our prayer and praise life, and even our fellowship with other believers all revolve around Jesus. Our faith in Him is what our life is centered around after we are saved, after we become Christians. There is a turning point, a time of being born again, that is the hallmark of our Christianity.
We would like to believe our old ways are washed away as easily as our sins are forgiven, but we still are in a fight with our fleshly desires. There may be some areas of our previous life that we are easily able to walk away from, never looking back. Things that used to tempt us may never cross our minds again. But walking through our Christian life, being Christlike, is not always an easy road. We still have bad thoughts, still struggle with controlling our words that we share with others, and still are in a fight between acting and reacting.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the two thieves who were on their crosses that day, that day when Jesus willingly gave up His life for all of us. Unlike those two thieves who had done something wrong, Jesus was completely innocent.
I read in Matthew 27:12 about Jesus being questioned and accused. The Bible tells me, “And when He was accused of the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.”
I can’t help but think about how, when my feelings get hurt, I feel the need to speak up about it. Maybe I don’t say anything to the person who offended me, but I certainly find someone to vent it to. It’s usually my husband. I wonder – why I can’t learn to say nothing at all?
I read in Matthew 27:23 where the crowd “…cried out the more, saying, Let Him be crucified.” Imagine a huge crowd collectively yelling at you. Imagine that many people hating you. Imagine not speaking up while this is happening.
I cannot begin to imagine how I would react if even a small crowd treated me that way. I know if I happened to stay silent it would be out of fear or shock. I would be so hurt and upset that when I did have a chance to speak, I’m sure I would. Again, I would probably vent to my husband, feeling the need to relive the experience over and over through my words.
As I read Matthew 27:28-31 today I found it was hard to hear about the absolute cruelty of the people who reacted to Jesus as He made His way to His crucifixion, to read about how they used their words to hurl pain toward Him.
I would want to run and hide if I were treated that way. I know I would look for one friendly face in that crowd, and when I found that person I would try to reach out, try to have at least one voice speak up for me.
I read in Matthew 27:44 where the two thieves were in on it too. It’s hard for me imagine that they would spend the last hours of their lives following the crowd, allowing hateful words to leave their hearts, but they did. Until one didn’t. I read in Luke 42-43 how one of those two thieves had a change of heart and used his words to reach out to Jesus. And how did Jesus respond? The thief said… “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” to which Jesus answered, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
You see, Jesus forgave that thief when he reached out and accepted Him, but He actually died for all of them, all those people who yelled at Him, mocked Him, and, as Matthew 27:36 describes “...sitting down, they watched Him there.” They spent that day just watching Him, waiting for Him to die. Those were the people, along with all of us, who were the reason He willingly died that day.
I think about how many reactions Jesus could have had that day. How many times He could have said something. How many ways He could have done something. Then I think about His actions. How He chose when to stay silent and when to speak. How He chose to walk the path laid out for Him. How He offered words of kindness to that thief who had just moments before been part of the crowd of mockers.
Sometimes we think we need to be bold. Sometimes we do, but as Christians, those who by definition should be Christlike, we must not confuse boldness with brashness. Reactions come from a place of flesh, come from a desire to have our own way, come from a need to be recognized.
Actions allow us to choose how we deal with a situation because they don’t originate in the same place as reactions. We can act when we live our lives in the Word, in communion with Jesus through our prayer and praise life, and in fellowship with others who, like iron sharpens iron, encourage us in our walk with the Lord.
There’s no need for us to react.
We can act like Jesus.