Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34
From the cross he said, “Father, forgive them. “Forgive them, because they don’t really know what they’re doing.” They thought they did, but they did not. And the evidence is the evidence that they didn’t know what they’re doing is because they just kept on doing exactly what they were doing. Listen to this, this next callous line that Luke adds, because this is what happened. And while Jesus is dying and while Jesus is forgiving, Luke says while this is going on, “And they divided up his clothes” right at his feet, “By casting lots.” What did he say? I don’t know, who cares. It’s your role. Forgive them? Come on, how weak is that? How passive. How spineless. What a loser. In fact, this is the story by first century standards by 21st century standards. Jesus lost. His enemies won and worse than that.
When they came to arrest him, you know the story. When they came to arrest him, he didn’t even resist. And when his followers who were with him in the garden that night tried to resist, he said, “No more of this, “no more of this, stop this, put away your sword. “This is not my way. “This is not the way. “That’s so kingdoms of this world one on one, “and I have come to pave a new way. “I’ve come to demonstrate a different way to resist. “I’ve come to demonstrate a different way “to respond and to react.” And when his followers realize he’s not even going to resist, you know the story, they all unfollowed and they all fled, but they shouldn’t have been surprised at Jesus’ response to his arrest, because this is how he had lived his entire life. This has been his posture all along. And this was the posture that he insisted they take if they were going to be his follower.
But it’s so disturbing. It’s so uneverything in us for most of us. And it’s why most of us would rather just believe than choose to follow, because following Jesus will cost you something. It’s why Jesus has so many admirers and so few followers. So here’s the question. Which one are you? Which one am I? Which one are we?
The way of Jesus, it’s disturbing. It’s unnerving. It’s really unAmerican. It’s really kind of, if I could be honest, it’s kind of unmanly, but when you see it played out, when you see it rolled out in real time with a real person in the 21st century, somebody who understands what it means to really follow Jesus, and they’re up against the wall and suddenly things aren’t going their way, because, see, our actions, we’re gonna talk about this later, our actions only tell part of the story. Our reactions tell the whole story. And when you have seen a man or a woman react in such a way that reflects the posture of Jesus, it’s jaw dropping. It’s show stopping. Their reaction slices through the darkness, and that’s the effect that the way of Jesus has when it’s lived out in this imperfect world. It stirs something in us. It doesn’t look weak.
In fact, for example, you should look up the story of Rachael Denhollander. She was the person who addressed… She actually addressed Larry Nassar during the sentencing phase of his trial for years and years and years of sexual assault. As you may know, Rachael was the first person to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former USA gymnast doctor of sexual abusing over 200 little girls and young women.
And you should look up her statement in the courtroom. It’s so emotional, I can’t even get through the first line. Some of you know what that first line was. It’s so powerful. It’s so disarming. And I know for so many people, even in our audience, it’s so close to the reality of your experience that I just don’t want to go there, but you should look it up. And then you should ask yourself the question, is following Jesus weak? Is following Jesus passive? Is following Jesus a way to simply lose and to lose and to lose and to lose? But when you read her words, when you read what she says publicly to the man that did more damage to her than anyone that’ll ever do damage to her, you just stop and stare. It’s suddenly a little light cuts through, and it’s amazing.
Or look up the story of Anthony Thompson, 2015. We all are all familiar with this story. 2015, Anthony Thompson’s wife, Myra, and eight of his dear friends were gunned down by a white supremacist, after the Bible study. You remember this in Mother Emmanuel AME church, Charleston. And 48 hours later, 48 hours after his wife is murdered, he goes to the bond hearing. Now, Thompson, Anthony Thompson is a Navy veteran. He’s a man’s man. And he walks in and he forgives out loud in court. He forgives his wife’s murderer. And then he promises, remember this part, you look it up, and he promises to pray for his wife’s murderer’s salvation. And he even goes on to say, “So that you would spend eternity.”
And as you read this, you’re like, wait a minute. You’re hoping your wife’s murderer spends eternity in the same place you hope your wife is spending? I mean, how weak. How pathetic. What a loser. But when you read that story, when you heard that story, we know better, don’t we? We all know better. And here’s the point. Jesus invites all of us to be that better. And in the end, he died that better. Luke actually documents Jesus’ specific invitation to his followers to live that kind of life and to demonstrate that posture and to demonstrate that kind of reaction when life goes in the opposite direction.