Day 37 of Lent, Psalm 43:
Have you ever been falsely accused? Kids point their finger at their sibling, while their sibling points right back and says, “I did not! You did it.” Our first and most natural response to accusations or being misunderstood has probably not changed that much since we were kids. It is easy to just defend, make excuses or explain ourselves. We have a desire to be right, to be understood and be justified. Is it possible to respond differently?
There are some “scenes” during Jesus’ last hours that perplex me, and feel very unfamiliar to me. The scenes occur when Jesus is before the priests, Pilot and Herod. Everything done to Jesus so far is unjust. He is arrested at night, privately, and without fair witnesses or a fair trial. When arrested in the garden, Jesus goes with them without a protest or complaint. Soon He is standing before the priests. Here, Jesus could have easily stated His case because everything was plain wrong. He calmly answers their questions, and sometimes even says nothing. No protest is made! There is no attempt to explain things or prove that they are wrong. He could have easily done a few miracles.
Here is what is hard to believe: Jesus is trapped, but not really. He is trapped, yet He chooses to remain and trust His Father in heaven. He has the power to release Himself and call for help, yet He tells Pilot this:
My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.
He stands still because of another kingdom.
- What do you do when others misjudge you or talk poorly of you?
- When you feel trapped by another’s complaint or misunderstanding what is your response?
- How does this idea of another kingdom make a difference in all of this?
Trapped and wanting out
Psalm 43 says:
Vindicate me, O God!
Fight for me against an ungodly nation!
Deliver me from deceitful and evil men!
I do not frequently use the word “vindicate,” but at the same time it is very familiar to me. To vindicate is to want justice, or to defend a right, or even my rights. It is probably easy for us to make sure we are understood, not judged unfairly, or have everything fair. It is common to desire to be understood and not misunderstood. We naturally will fight for our rights. That is the natural thing.
Out of the trap
Jesus stands without a fight, or even without any indication of wanting a fight. He can stand there, without a word. 1 Peter 2 says, that Jesus: “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” He stood trusting His Father. He knew His Father to be loving and trustworthy. He knew He would accomplish all things; therefore He didn’t need to fight for His will or to prove Himself to the priests or rulers. Jesus kept entrusted Himself to His Father and His plan. That is what God asks me to do also. Does this sound scary?
I want to be this kind of person, who rests in my Father’s plans. You might say, “Isn’t that a good thing, to justify myself, or to make myself understood?” It isn’t necessarily bad, but it has more to do more with the motives of my heart. I hate to be misunderstood! I have always had a high “need” to be understood and appreciated. Really, what is under all of it is this: I want things to be right and fair. I want others approval and acceptance first. Yet, I am not called to not be “right” but to be loving. I am not called to be first, but to be humble. I am not called to show others how wrong they are, but to trust and be faithful. My heart is full of pride- putting myself first, putting my needs a little too high, and worrying how I will be taken care of. This is what I want to grow in. The higher value is humility in my heart, than feeling understood in my heart. The greater good is to be like Jesus than to retain my rights. This is not natural to me. This is foreign and even supernatural.
- The trap is in my pride. Real freedom is in humility and resting in God’s vindication. He can be trusted to make things right.
- Freedom is also found in the humility of Christ. God wants to form this in me over time, as I follow Him, becoming more like Him. This is real freedom.
Much of this is about trust. Just as Jesus kept entrusting, I too need to keep entrusting myself to Him. He will take care of me. I don’t have to go scrambling around to make things fair. I don’t need to have an outline in my head for justifying myself. I need to take these needs before my Father who loves me and wants me to ask Him. And sometimes He wants me to be ok with just Him knowing and understanding the situation. He wants me to be ok with His vindication. The more I grow in this, the freer I am. The more I live in this the freer I am to be myself. Then I can love freely in my heart, and this is freedom.
God vindicates. He is the Judge of the heavens and the earth. Can I trust Him to do the right thing?