Jesus Was No Stranger to the Suffering of our World
by Elli Atchison
Jesus was no stranger to the suffering of our world. He experienced every trial we face today. He did not come to immediately bring an end to sadness and suffering or poverty and injustice. He did not come to overthrow a government or to end political occupations. He came to show us a better way to live, amidst the many tribulations that plague our world. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God on earth.
During the three years Jesus traveled throughout the Holy Land, he constantly talked about the Kingdom. Many times he spoke of it in ways that confused his followers. But his perfect actions demonstrated the lessons he wanted to teach those who chose to follow him. The rules of the Kingdom include loving God through obedience and loving others before oneself. They include praying for enemies, refusing to retaliate against evil, and showing kindness even when others don't. Kingdom values also teach us to trust in God to provide for our needs and all the while to embrace suffering that just does not seem fair.
These revolutionary ideas did not make sense to the people of Jesus' day, and they often don't make sense to us now. They go against our sinful nature and the ways of the world. But Jesus made it clear that his Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). One will not find this Kingdom in any land or geographic space. The kingdom can only be found within our hearts (Luke 17:21). And within his Kingdom is the only place where we will ever find peace.
During his last week on the earth, Jesus looked over Jerusalem and wept. He wept for a special land he knew so well. And he wept for all the precious people he loved so dearly. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Luke, "If you, even you, had only known the things that that would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. You didn't recognize the time of God's coming to you" (Luke 19: 42,44). They didn't recognize him then, nor do we truly recognize him now.
Jesus has given us the keys to the Kingdom. (Matt. 16:19) He invites to us enter into it any time we wish. But the choice to do so is ours. As followers of Christ, we are called to apply these upside-down Kingdom values to our own lives and to our broken world. What if we all had just a mustard seed of faith to actually believe that what Jesus said to be true? Maybe a miraculous change might just begin, first within our own lives and then through us to those whom we encounter.
We are called to show the world that there is a better way… Jesus' way. He said "I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus came to show us the way to the Kingdom of God and the path to peace. Peace is a miracle that first must start within our hearts. Only then can it spread throughout the world. Let us seek first the Kingdom of God and trust that all things will also be given to us as well. (Matt. 6:33)
Thank you for coming into our world to establish your Kingdom. We are so grateful that we do not have to wait for heaven to experience it. Abundant life can be ours now, no matter what "personal occupation" we might face. Begin in each of our hearts today. Help us remember that you experienced every trial and hardship and yet you overcame them all. Give us a mustard seed of faith to believe your words and follow your way into the Kingdom. Renew our understanding and practice of your perfect prayer today.
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts , as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory,
Forever and ever (Matt. 6:9-5), Amen.
Elli Atchison is an ambassador for World Vision, working alongside the advocacy team to promote peace and justice in the Holy Land for all God's people, especially children. This Holy Week meditation originally appeared at Prayers for the Holy Land.
See all the parts of Atchison's "Jesus Was No Stranger To…" series.