Imagine if Jesus said to the adulterous woman, “If you didn’t want to get stoned, you shouldn’t have had an affair.”
If he had said to the poor, “God anointed me to bring you good news, but you wouldn’t be in this position in the first place if you just worked harder and pulled yourself up by your bootstraps.”
If instead of asking Levi to follow him, he told him that his decision to be a tax collector for Rome was his own choice and anything that happened to him as a result was his own fault.
If he’d said to the leper, “I don’t know the whole story about how you came to have leprosy, I’m sure there’s something that explains why you deserve it.”
If he had refused to heal the Roman centurion’s servant because they were on opposing political sides.
If he’d said to Jairus, “What about all the other lives? Why is your daughter’s more important?”
If to the Samaritan woman he had said, “Women discriminate against women, so it is of no consequence to me if men and Jews do it too.”
If the parable of the prodigal son ended with the son going to prison for his actions and a lesson about the law and why it shouldn’t be broken.
If he had said to the man hanging next to him on the cross, “How is it my responsibility to help you when I had nothing to do with your problem?”
Can you imagine? Can you imagine what that would mean for you and me? For the gospel?
Instead Jesus’ words spilled over with grace and forgiveness and reconciliation. He acted out of mercy and compassion in situations that didn’t make sense. He restored with truth and upheld the dignity and humanity of those he interacted with, while the religious leaders accused him of breaking the law himself. He remained faithful to his calling to be Love all the way to the cross.
And he tells us to go and do likewise. If we love Jesus and the gospel, we must be salt and light, hands and feet, loving our neighbors with compassion and mercy.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
John 13:34 NLT
Thanks to Matt Botsford for sharing their work on Unsplash.