The last week of Jesus life before his resurrection is instructive. What would you do if you knew you had one week to live? Some of what Jesus did is not surprising. He visited his friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany. He kept tradition with the Passover and spent time with his twelve closest friends. But Jesus knew his purpose and while he cried that the cup of pain and sacrifice might pass from him, he did not shrink back. He continued to advance His father’s kingdom purposes as he fought injustice, suffered betrayal, and willingly incurred great pain to remove the mountain of injustice called sin.
No other god ever suffered for people. The gods frequently inflicted suffering, but never did they willingly suffer and die for man. Jesus suffered. Jesus died. “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain… He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:3,5).
Our sin is so great and world so broken that only a perfect God could remove it. Jesus suffered immeasurable injustice. His trials were a great example of injustice as man’s justice system perpetrated the ultimate injustice. “He was condemned to death without a fair trial. Who could have imagined what would happen to him?… He wasn’t dishonest or violent, but he was buried in a tomb of cruel and rich people” (Isa. 53:8-9).
Jesus could have led an army. Many wanted him to. But that’s not what he did. What did Jesus do? He washed feet. Three days after clearing the temple, He knelt in an upper room demonstrating love and humility as He washed the feet of his friends. “You are my friends if you do what I command” (Jn. 15:14).
What did Jesus command? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (Jn. 13:34).
Love requires action. If you say you love someone but never demonstrate it, your love is not real. Love compels us to wash the feet and wounds of our friend and neighbor on the Jericho Road. Jesus so engaged humanity that He sacrificed His own life to redeem us. Jesus walked the Jericho Road, the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering. He took our sin upon Himself. He suffered a cruel and unjust death on a Roman instrument of torture among two common thieves.
The temple authorities should have been gloating over their victory, but the perpetrators of injustice reacted in fear. They pleaded with Pilate for a large stone to be placed over the tomb entrance. They understood Jesus’ words about rising in three days—and were afraid. They thought the official seal and guards at the tomb would save them.
Death could not contain the High King of Heaven. The great stone of injustice was rolled away, and justice rolled on in its place. Jesus willingly suffered the greatest injustice so He could freely offer the greatest justice. He engaged with humanity. He showed us how to love our neighbor victimized by sin and injustice.
His death gives us life as He becomes our advocate – our lawyer – to stand before God on our behalf and grant us a justice we do not deserve (1 Jn. 1-2). His death and resurrection gives us hope in the midst of injustice. This is the hope of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-8). “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15:19). But our hope is in eternity, in the resurrection of the dead.
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
The battle against injustice is not in vain. Are we willing to enlist?
Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Mt. 7:24–25).
Jesus’ life spoke volumes. If we are to follow Christ, then let us put into practice all that he taught us. Stand against injustice. Get involved. Listen to his words and
Go and Do Likewise!
Adapted from the book Gospel Justice.