Following Jesus into Ridicule
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him [Jesus] among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!” (Mark 15:31)
There are so many reasons to be impressed with the way Jesus lived his all too short life. One of the characteristics that made Jesus so special was his focus. Jesus was undeterred when facing struggle, or pressure from others. Crowds pressured him to respond a certain way. Powerful political and religious figures attempted to mold him into a proper, worldly image. Jesus never buckled and always knew the proper response, even when it wasn’t popular.
Jesus’ willingness to eat with tax collectors and other sinners left him open to ridicule, but he did it anyway. Jesus’ recognition, respect, and healing of women was considered inappropriate, and at times made him unclean, but he did it anyway. Jesus performed healings and exorcisms on the Sabbath, which technically broke a religious law, but that did not deter him. Over and over, Jesus ignored political expediency or what would make him popular or successful, in order to do what God required.
The story of Jesus and Pontus Pilate is another remarkable example, because a Roman political figure seemingly had more respect and compassion for Jesus than his own religious contemporaries. While they are yelling “Crucify Him!” Pilate used his negotiation skills in an attempt to keep this itinerant preacher alive. Why wouldn’t Jesus just listen? Pilate was offering him an easy way out of a horrific and unjust situation. But Jesus was undeterred, knowing what God expected, even when it seemed to be a victory for his adversaries.
Jesus’ example is one we would rather not follow. We like being popular and successful. Yet, sometimes God calls us to speak out against injustice, even when it isn’t popular or advantageous to do so. There are moments, out of a motivation for long-term benefit, one must say the hard words or make the hard decisions, even when you can expect ridicule. I did that with a dear friend, years ago when I felt his alcohol use was destructive. I got what I expected: ridicule. But it was the most faithful thing I could have done. The popular word isn’t always the faithful word. Be courageous, and seek God’s strength, when like Jesus, you are forced to do the unpopular for the greater good. God bless your courage.