The Lord is More Interested in Your Character Than Your Comfort

The New Testament gives us a strange view of Jesus as He is praying for those who are driving the nails into His hands and feet and tormenting Him while He is on the cross.

Luke 23:33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, it has been His continuing role to pray for all those who have placed their faith in Him as their Savior.

Paul described Jesus as our High Priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us. Jesus’ continuing ministry since His resurrection is to pray and intercede for those who have come to Him for salvation. A knowledge of these truths should be a great source of comfort, knowing that at this moment that Jesus is in heaven praying for each one of us.

Whatever it is that you may be going through in your life right now, Jesus is aware of your situation and He is praying for you. If you are suffering and wondering why the Lord has not rescued you from your trouble, have you considered that He is working in you a greater good by allowing you to go through this trial? Even more, Jesus is praying for you in heaven that you will make it through each trial and all you are going through will turn out for good.

It is a truth that is often displayed throughout the Bible that the Lord is more interested in our character than our comfort. Just as any loving father will make the life of his child difficult sometimes to teach important principles and develop character, so also does our Father in heaven. God allows suffering in the lives of those who have come into a personal relationship with Him, for the purpose of causing us to grow in our faith and relationship with Him.

The person who has not come into a parent/child relationship with God, by the work of Jesus Christ, is not under His discipline. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that there is no protection promised by God for anyone who refuses to come to Him by Jesus’ sacrifice. God is under no obligation to rescue a person who has stubbornly refused Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Jesus said that those outside of God’s family belong to the family of satan. The devil can do nearly anything he wants to a person who is not under the protection of God’s covenant in Jesus Christ.

We know that we (believers in Jesus) are of God, and the (rest of) the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. ~1 John 5:19

Why Bad Things Happen:

Often people who do not understand God, question how He can allow so much suffering in the world or permit natural disasters and accidents to take so many lives. What we should consider is that most of the world has rejected God and His claim upon their lives. When bad things happen to people and they blame God, they really should blame themselves. The reason that the world is in such a terrible state of evil and suffering is largely due to the actions of people. It is we who make our world what it is. By the way that we treat each other, we cause suffering. By not helping vulnerable people who are hungry, sick, or struggling, we enable them to continue in suffering.

Instead of complaining about the condition of the world, perhaps we should personally get involved by going to a third world country and help those who need us. You would be amazed at how much one person can do in the life of a person who lives in isolation from the rest of the world. Just one hundred dollars can feed, cloth, and provide shelter for a family of four in a third world country, for an entire month. I know this because I spent eight years on an isolated island in Asia in order to help the poor who had no help from the outside world. We have the power to change the lives of people in our world. God gave us this world to share and care for one another. If we truly want to lesson the suffering of people, we must become involved and do something ourselves.

God created the world perfect and gave us the choice whether it would remain perfect. Adam chose sin instead of God, and each of us make the same choice every day. The world is the way that it is because of our choices, not because God does not care or cannot help us. Jesus came into the world to end our suffering, sickness and death. For the present time we have an opportunity to submit our lives to Him or reject Him as the first humans did. When Jesus comes again He will end this present world of evil and suffering, and those who love Him and have submitted to His Lordship over their lives, will be allowed to live in the perfect world God always intended.

Rejection Of God In America

Since 1964, the United States has systematically rejected God and sought to remove Him from virtually every facet of our society. While God has been relegated from our government, schools and court system, increasing numbers of calamities and catastrophes are occurring in the United States. Why would a nation who has vigorously rejected God and adamantly stated that they do not want God in their lives, be shocked when He removes His hand of protection?

When America Abandons God: The Signs And The Consequences

The attack on the twin towers, hurricane Katrina, superstorm Sandy, and recently, the plague of the Coronavirus, are evidence that our nation and world is increasingly rejecting God and abandoning a personal relationship with Him. The nation of Israel was promised the protection of God as long as they remained faithful to Him. After 490 years, God abandoned those whom He had formerly protected and blessed, and allowed the Jews to suffer the consequences of their betrayal. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Israel and for 70 years God’s people remained under the dominion of a pagan king.

The United States is not immune from the same fate if we also abandon God and begin to live without Him.

The Lord Is Longsuffering

The question that we should ask is: “Why has the Lord been so patient with us thus far, when we have sought to ignore Him and even deny that He exists?” We live under His benevolence, in a universe that has been created with human beings as the intended beneficiaries of all His care. All around us every day we see the beauty, design, provision, and care that God has produced for each one of us because He loves the world.

Paul wrote in the first chapter of Romans that the universe was created by God for the purpose of visibly showing us evidence for God’s existence and His great love for us. David wrote in Psalms 19 that the universe is speaking to us of His existence and telling us who He is, every day.

How God Created The Universe: Science And The Bible In Symmetry

God was not seeking to fill the universe with life, but to make a statement to one planet, one people, of who He is and what He has done to make HImself know to us and reunite us to Him.

Even amongst scientists, who don’t believe that the universe was created, they freely admit that the cosmos appears as though it had been designed for life.

“The conditions that allow life in the Universe can only occur when certain universal fundamental physical constants lie within a very narrow range, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is presently understood.”[1] —Mark Isaak

Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist Stephen Hawking wrote:

“The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. ..The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”[2] —Stephen Hawking

The universe exists as an example of what God is willing to do in order to bless our lives and to provide everything we need, simply because He loves us. This love and concern is also extended in the trials, losses, and difficulties of our lives. Romans 8 ends with the promise that every person who trusts in Jesus, can have the assurance that God is working all things out for a good purpose.

Praying For His Murderers

The prophecies of Isaiah chapter 53 states that the Messiah will intercede for those who will put Him to death. The people who stood nearby to witness the death of Jesus were awestruck by the manner in which He died. He did not act as other men do when they are being executed for crimes they have committed. Jesus showed amazing love and compassion for the very men who were subjecting Him to excruciating pain and suffering. It was almost as if Jesus wanted to get up from the cross to show the man who was driving the nails into His hands, how to properly get the job done.

The following story illustrates the goal of Jesus as He prayed for His tormentors and His desire to fill us with a knowledge of the love He has for the world.

They hauled the large burly man, trembling, to the judgment seat of Jesus…

Oh great Lord of the universe, behold the man who made the nails that pierced your hands and feet…

The master rose up slowly, gently, as His eyes like fire and His beard as white as wool shone in the heavens…

Jesus laid His mighty nail-scarred hand upon the shoulder of the man so full of shame; his guilt-ridden head he could not lift, before the great King..

Jesus begins to speak… You made the nails that they pierced me with?

The man replies: Yes Great King.

The broken man could barely lift his eyes to meet Jesus’ gaze. Oh Lord, please forgive me, I didn’t understand what I was doing. I see now that you are Lord, and I am sincerely sorry for what I did to You.

With all the love that brought Jesus to earth for the very purpose of dying for the sins of the world, He looked back intently at a truly repentant soul…

They were good nails, my friend, You are forgiven.[3]

As His tormentors carried out their work of making His death certain, Jesus was praying for them.

 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” —Luke 23:34

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, were all in agreement in how, when, and by what method the Messiah would die for the sins of the world. The people who put Jesus to death were not only guilty of a lifetime of personal sins against God; they were now adding the most hideous crime: murdering the Son of God. As Jesus is suffering unimaginable pain, His thoughts run to the men causing His pain. Not of retribution or malice but compassion, love, and concern. These men were exercising their own free will in choosing to kill Jesus. Whether by order of the Roman Government, pressure by the Jewish authorities, or by personal hatred of Jesus’ as he was suffering before them, they heaped their sins high. Even while being tormented by these men, Jesus was not willing that any of those men who punished Him, should perish themselves, eternally.

Unbelievably, Jesus asks the Father not to hold these sins of murder and torture, against those who were killing Him. Jesus was reminding the Father that this death that He was dying, was for the very men who were killing Him. Father, forgive them were the words Jesus spoke. The Lord understood that most of what we do against God is in ignorance. If we truly understood who Jesus is and what He has done for us, many of us would fall before Him in great adoration.

It is because we are ignorant of God and His plans and purposes for this world, that we ignore Him, often blaspheme Him, and even worse—reject Him in our life.

Isaiah writes that the Messiah would pray for His executioners. We find in the testimony of those who recorded the words of the New Testament, that this is exactly what Jesus did. He loved the men who were killing Him, and He gladly died a horrible death so that they might have the opportunity to obtain the forgiveness of their sins, and eternal life.

In my book, “These Things Were Written,” I document the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus  and His desire to make Himself known to you. It was the purpose of Jesus that anyone who wanted to know God, could find a relationship with God by simply seeking Him with all of their heart. 


NOTES:
[1] Mark Isaak (ed.) (2005). “CI301: The Anthropic Principle”. Index to Creationist Claims. TalkOrigins Archive. Retrieved 2007-10-31
[2] Stephen Hawking, 1988. A Brief History of Time, Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-05340-X, p. 125.
[3] Author unknown. This story came from my notes over the past 35 years. A large part of the story was written and paraphrased by myself. If you know the author of this wonderful story, please email me at robertcliftonrobinson@gmail.com so that I may give proper attribution to the original writer.



Categories: Dying for those who reject Him, Jesus Church, Mercy, The Compassion of Jesus, The Suffering of Jesus

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