Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Luke 23:26-43; Hebrews 11:11-19; Proverbs 28:1-14; Isaiah 56-57
The sight of Jesus’ humiliation and torture brings a number of women to wail and weep for him. His reaction is astonishing and shocking (Luke 23:28-31). In the midst of his agony, he is concerned for others, but also makes a terrible prediction. They should be more concerned about what they and their children will someday face. The time is coming when people will think it would be better not to bring children into this fallen world and will wish for their own deaths.
We may react with horror and indignation at such a terrible future. When we see suffering and pain in this world, we crave justice. We want someone to put things right. We may also wonder how God could let things get so bad. The two criminals executed with Jesus reveal two possible responses. In doing so, they live out Proverbs 28:5, with one of them able to see the justice in his execution. His deeds are deserving of death.
The reality is that all of us deserve death as punishment for our sins. But Jesus reminds us that God’s ways are different. Even though we may not know what we are doing, he appeals to God the Father for our forgiveness. This we can have through no works of our own, but through turning to Jesus and relying on him. The criminal understood this, and asked Jesus to remember him. The one who makes God his refuge will inherit heavenly places (Isaiah 57:13). Confession of sin will bring mercy (Proverbs 28:13). The man’s faith is enough for Jesus to say that he would be with him in paradise.
The world can be one into which we may wish we were never born. Yet as bad as it is, people of faith look to the future and long for a better place – a heavenly place (Hebrews 11:16). Isaiah 56 makes a significant promise in this regard. Eunuchs were men who castrated themselves to serve as high-ranking officials around the families (and daughters) of kings and rulers. Their ambition for power and wealth led them to cut off any hope of children. Within Judaism, this also meant they were excluded from the assembly of God (Deuteronomy 23:1). Here in Isaiah, though, God promises that eunuchs will be part of God’s family. Those eunuchs who turn to God will be given something better than sons and daughters: an everlasting name and a place at God’s holy mountain.
This world can be a miserable place to live in, but those who join themselves to God through Christ have eternity with him to look forward to. That should give us the comfort and endurance to accept life’s difficulties and find ways to serve others even in our pain, as Jesus did on the road to his death.