Scapegoat


Have you ever gotten in trouble for something that you didn’t do? Or have you ever taken the blame for someone else’s mistake? I’ve been there before, and it’s not much fun. You feel cheated. Or, at least, that’s what I feel when things like that happen. But I also don’t have any good feelings for the people who should be punished.┬áIn fact, I usually get downright angry at them, mostly because I feel like they should step up and claim responsibility for their own stupid mistake so I don’t have to pay for it.

This is what I thought about when I read today’s verse.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[a] so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Wow.

Just think about that for a moment.

First off, Jesus never sinned. Not once. Some people have a hard time beliving that. Heck, I have a hard time believing it sometimes too. But that’s what the Bible says, and so I believe it. I don’t understand it, but do you want a God you can understand? I don’t.

Jesus never sinned. He was tempted. But it’s not a sin to be tempted.

So, Jesus never sinned. He was perfect. He never did anything wrong. He always did the right thing. He loved people who didn’t deserve to be loved with no expectation of recompense. He healed the sick and brought the dead back to life and never asked for anything in return (other than faith). He was a friend to the friendless, hope to the hopeless, a light in the darkness. And the people turned on Him and killed Him.

Now, there’s no point in discussing who killed Jesus because we all did. It might have been the religious leaders at the time who convinced the people into turning against Him. It might have been the Romans who nailed Him to the cross. But no one could kill Jesus unless He let them. Jesus went willingly for a reason, and that reason was to make a way for us to have a relationship with God through His death. So if you want to point fingers at who killed Jesus, look in the mirror.

Jesus, who had never done anything wrong, was punished for me.

I love people, but I don’t know if I love anyone enough to let them do to me what Jesus let happen to Him. Beyond the physyical pain. Beyond the public humiliation. God turned Jesus into Sin itself and poured out His wrath on Him. On those hours on the cross, Jesus paid for every sin I would ever commit, along with all the sins of the entire world. He suffered the punishment for the entire population of Earth for all time.

I can’t even imagine it. I can’t begin to describe what it must have been like. Because I’ve never been punished for my sins. I’ve suffered consequences from them, but that’s not the same as being punished for them. It’s something I’ve never experienced, and I never will, thanks to Jesus.

It boggles my mind that He would do something like that for me.

And I complain when I get a lecture for someone else’s mistake? It doesn’t even compare. How can I grumble and feel angry toward someone who’s wronged me on such a minor level when Jesus could take the blame for everything I’ve ever done wrong and feel nothing but love for me?

He never hated us. Do you realize that? Even as He was suffering, even as He died, He never felt anger toward us. He loved us.

I don’t understand that kind of love. Even when I’m willingly taking the punishment for people who deserve it, I can’t help but feel slighted. Or I feel like they should appreciate me more than before. Or I think that I’m such a good friend and they’re lucky to have me. Or I think that I’m such a good Christian. But Jesus didn’t do that. All He wanted was to keep us safe, to make a way for us to be free. There was no desire for exultation or elevation when He died on the cross. He was here on a rescue mission.

So is it wrong to expect people to respect us? No. There are some common courtesies people should uphold. And is it wrong to call someone out when they’ve done something wrong? Well, no. Right is right; wrong is wrong. And is it wrong for us to be blamed for other peoples’ mistakes? Of course. When you’re doing your best to live the way you should and you have to take responsibility for others, it’s certainly not right. . . . . but the world is broken. And if accepting the blame for someone else will bring peace between people, don’t you think it might be worth it? Granted, it varies with every situation. But it has to start somewhere.

This is something I’m working on. I always try to love people, but people are a lot easier to love when they behave. When they do the right thing. When they make the right choice. But Jesus loved me before I made right choices. And He still loves me now, even though I make wrong choices all the time. So that’s what I need to do.

We say we want to live like Christ, but do we really understand what that means? To love people the way Jesus did is to love them even while you’re being punished for them.

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