Teaching from the Cross about ... Revenge!
by Hiram Claudio 4/19/2011 / Christian Living
Many scenes from "Passion Week" capture our attention. All are compelling. But none more so perhaps than the scene of Jesus on the cross. The words our Lord spoke are ones we need to hear and study often. But for a moment, I'd like to focus on the words others spoke to Him and on His reaction to them.
He had already been through so much torment. Slandered. Ridiculed. Beaten. And every step He took towards Calvary was against a background of insults and taunts. Ever been there? Ever try to do something good for someone only to have it blow up in your face? Ever have your efforts to bless someone lead to them taking advantage of you?
How did Jesus respond? In that single moment, what is the lesson we can learn? The Apostle Peter gives us keen insight:
"who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;" (1 Peter 2:23 NKJV).
In His darkest hour, in a time when His physical pain was deepened by the attitudes of those hurling scorn and hate His way, our Lord did not get even! There was no "you'll get yours" or "you wait till a few days from now." In this moment, when justice would have been completely on His side, Jesus did not seek it. But what did He do? Did He just do nothing and take it?
No! He did something, something powerful. He trusted His Father. It was a scene that no one would have blamed Him for calling angels down to take out every single person offering scorn. Instead, Jesus committed the whole thing to God. In the Greek, the word "Himself" is not part of this verse (it was added for clarity). Reading it without it I think adds a level of understanding. Yes, He clearly committed Himself to God. That's easy to see. But He also committed the people who were causing Him pain to God. He "committed to Him who judges righteously." He committed everything to His Father!
There are so many lessons we can learn from this. Among them, we are reminded that in those times when we are treated poorly, our charge is to follow Jesus and commit ourselves to our Heavenly Father, to place our wronged hearts and battered souls in the Master's hands. But we need to also commit to Him those responsible for as well.
Now please, do not misunderstand me. I fully believe in boundaries. You should never just let someone hurt you or mistreat you. But this scripture is not about setting boundaries (which is a good thing). This is about an attitude that says "I need to take matters of enacting justice into my own hands." You and I are NEVER allowed to go there.
The Apostle Paul commented on this as well (quoting from Deuteronomy 32):
"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19-21 NKJV).
Verse 19 in The Message translations reads: "Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. 'I'll do the judging,' says God. 'I'll take care of it.'"
Again, I want to restate. Boundaries are a good thing, set them. But this isn't about whether or not you allow someone to hurt you. It is about your reaction when they do. In that case, any action that is centered on getting even or getting back or "I'll show them" is foolish. Our only example must be Jesus. And when He was faced with unjust pain and misery, He placed Himself, and those responsible, in the hands of God.
Lord, help us to trust You, especially when it comes to dealing with those who hurt us. Remind us, even though they may inflict pain beyond words, that You died for them too! Remind us that we can trust You when You say "I got this!"
Hiram Claudio is a minister and bible teacher who has traveled to 8 nations spreading the Good News of faith in Christ and victory through His name. He is married (for 29 years). He and his wife live in New York and have two sons.