In the eyes of the world, Jesus was a bad guy. To follow Him today in Canada will sometimes mean being called a “bad guy”. It is hard for Canadians to be “the bad guy”. It is hard for the average Canadian Christian to know that their neighbours and coworkers will see them as “the bad guy” if they let slip what Jesus said on certain issues. I will be honest, I do not like being labelled “the bad guy.”
The Roman and Jewish authorities conspired together to have Jesus die by crucifixion. They had different reasons but were content with the same end. Jesus was a threat. He was bad. They were good. They could put Him to death, so they did. He died a death that was reserved for slaves, undesirables, and the powerless. To further humiliate Him, they crucified Him naked, between two common thieves. He was a bad guy and had to die so the good guys could live and flourish.
Today, if you trust Jesus as Saviour and Lord, you get to bear witness to Him – who He is, what He accomplished, what He offers, and what He said. This means people will think you are “on the wrong side of history”. To uphold His teaching in certain moral and intellectual areas means that you are not just wrong, but very bad and hurtful. You are “the bad guy.” Canadians are “the good guys.”
The good guys back then had a problem though. On a Friday they had Jesus put to death in a very public and remarkable way. Everyone in Jerusalem and beyond knew that Jesus had been crucified. The following Sunday, the grave was empty, the body gone but the grave clothes left, and they could not find His body anywhere. From the perspective of the powerful, things went from bad to worse, Jesus began to appear to people deeply, truly and physically alive. The actions of the powerful were most definitely not being vindicated.
In His resurrection, Jesus was vindicated in all that He said about who He was and what He came to accomplish. Likewise, His resurrection vindicated all that He taught, even if it goes against “what everyone today knows to be true and good.” In fact, with the resurrection, Jesus’ teaching became the standard that judges whether or not “what everyone knows to be good and true” is actually good or true.
Jesus Messiah had, in truth, been the only good person in a world where every person was not good, not right, not true, and truly self-doomed. He was in fact the Good One who, for love’s sake, had to die so that the bad ones (everyone, you and me included) could finally live and flourish when we humble ourselves and receive God’s grace, through faith alone, in Him alone.
So this Easter, take heart. The world, the flesh, and the devil always get Him wrong, as well as His life giving death and life giving words. Ask the Father to pour the Holy Spirit upon you so that You will be more deeply gripped by Jesus, gripped by His life, gripped by what He accomplished on the cross, and gripped by His words which are life and truth. Follow Him to live life deeply and well.
If you are “outed” as “the bad guy” because you believe that His words and His Way are true life, then remember: He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Then, continuing to follow Him, pray that you will be un-embarrassed by His words, and be able to pray for your tormentors, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”