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Tuesday

Pictures of Jesus: Ridiculed


Ridicule can leave us raw. Scorn makes the spirit sore. Derision is distressing.

Jesus knows. He has been there.

Italian Baroque artist Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) painted the Messiah at such a moment. (The biblical accounts can be found in Matthew 27, Mark 15, and John 19.)

The soldiers stripped Jesus of His own garments and placed a robe and a crown of thorns upon Him. They beat Him with a staff and mocked Him. Then they took Him to be crucified.

Surely, Jesus knows all about disregard, disrespect, and disdain. 

The One who is worthy of all glory and honor and praise quietly endured such mistreatment. And He knew the truth. He knew who He was. He knew His purpose. He knew the Father esteemed Him highly.

And He knew God would ultimately set things right.

Working through a sermon series on the Book of Revelation, our pastor recently asked two pointed questions.

1) “Why do we, as American Christians, think we are immune to suffering for our faith?”

For generations, we have lived pretty peaceably, particularly as compared to our fellow believers in other parts of the world. Sure, we may be criticized or jeered for our faith. But our very safety has not been jeopardized much for it.

Times are changing. This sense of nationwide shelter to which we have long grown accustomed may not always exist.

Is our faith strong enough to stand, if ridicule turns into real persecution? Can our souls stand a sifting, if God should allow it?

2) “If we are not facing opposition for our faith, what compromises might we be making to avoid it?”

Ouch.

Jesus Himself said:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV)

I have never heard a pastor or Bible teacher talk about the trouble Jesus mentioned here as being everyday inconveniences or basic hardships of life. Instead, they point to persecution, as if it is a given for those who stand up for Christ.

Again and again, the Scriptures recognize encountering opposition as a mark of faith. Whether that takes the form of simple slander and sarcastic jabs or outright attack, it tests the mettle of one’s commitment to God.

I’m not seeking mistreatment or martyrdom. I’m not daring the enemy to bring on the battle. But it surely looks like things are heating up around here. And I pray to be ready, if such a day comes.

God, help me to carry Your banner boldly, even in the face of opposition or oppression.

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4:14, NIV)

Christ Mocked
 by Gianlorenzo Bernini
 17th Century

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The Scripture memory tips series is ongoing, but the April A to Z Blogging Challenge has started, and Heart of a Ready Writer is participating again this year. Watch for the Bible memory series posts, which may be interspersed with the Pictures of Jesus series during the month of April.


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