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Through Thick and Thin

Key References: Luke 23:26-56; Matthew 27:45-56; The Desire of Ages, chap. 78, pp. 741-764; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 9, pp. 105-109; Our Beliefs, nos. 9, 14, 12

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“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother’ ” (Zechariah 7:9).

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Like Jesus, we can care for others even when we face difficulties.

Is it possible to trust God so much that you can forget about your troubles and show love and compassion to another person?

The story of Jesus being led to His crucifixion is one of trust in God. Jesus had studied the prophecies and He knew He would sacrifice His life to save humanity. Yet He trusted God to guide His life. Even though the immediate circumstances were frightening and agonizing, His trust in God allowed Him to go meekly to the cross, as a lamb. Prophet Isaiah described this beautifully: “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Jesus trusted in His Father even when arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Thoughtful of His disciples’ welfare, He asked for their freedom. Even though He had secured their freedom, His disciples ran away, trying to escape. They left their Master at a time He needed them most. Then Peter, one of His disciples, denied Him.

Jesus’ trust in God did not waver even when He was being insulted, mocked, falsely accused, and twice tortured by the scourge whip!

After the second whipping, the cross was put upon Him. He had not taken any food or drink since the Passover meal with His disciples. In addition, the scourging had drained Him of His energy. Being too weak to lift up the cross, Jesus fell. Again the cross was placed upon Him, and again He fell under its weight. Still, Jesus continued to trust His Father.

The crowd that followed and watched as Jesus fell, bleeding and in terrible pain, showed no compassion. They yelled and taunted Him, saying “Make way for the King of the Jews!”

A Cyrenian man by the name of Simon saw what was happening and stopped in astonishment. Seeing his compassion, the soldiers grabbed him and forced him to carry the cross for Jesus.

Women in the crowd who had seen Jesus fall under the weight of the cross began to wail and cry loudly. Though they were expressing pity for Him, Jesus knew they did not believe in Him as the Son of God. Desiring to lead them to the Father, He took one last opportunity to warn them of the coming destruction of Jerusalem: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23:28).

Jesus was able to look past the moment of torture, past the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and see the final destruction of the world. He said, “Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ “ (Luke 23:30; Hosea 10:8). Even at that trying time, right before His death, Jesus reached out in love and warning, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Even on the cross, as the nails were piercing His hands and feet, Jesus thought of His persecutors. He did not protest; He desired no vengeance. Instead, He pitied them for the consequences that would result from their rejection of Him. He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). What a magnificent evidence of the depth of Jesus’ care, love, and forgiveness for those who tortured Him. Jesus not only taught but showed in the deepest sense what it means to love our enemies. In that He is our supreme example.

Crucified with Him were two thieves, one on each side. Both heard the scorn and ridicule of the priests. Both heard Jesus pray forgiveness for His persecutors. Both witnessed His peaceful submission to unjust torture. As one thief joined in taunting Jesus, the other was convicted that Jesus was the the Son of God. With him Jesus shared words of forgiveness, promise, and hope: “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Finally, Jesus looked down at His heartbroken mother. In His dying hour He committed her to the care of His trusted disciple, John. What a remarkable evidence of filial love!

Jesus is our perfect example. Even in His hour of dying, He was still pleading for forgiveness for others; still lovingly off ering salvation to a sorrowing thief; still ministering to those needing care. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Christian followed the example of Jesus? “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).