I received a thank you card today. The card made me smile not because of the card but because of the thought and the person behind the card. This person is a lovely person to do anything for, not just because the person always expresses gratitude, but because of who the person is.
It made me think about the things we do for people. To what extent would we go for somebody?
It's pretty easy to imagine jumping into a fire to save someone we love. Running to a car wreck to pull someone out. I know of the Sg. Chilling incident where youths jumped in to rescue one of the fathers who was swept away by the river, and five of them, including the father, perished.
But what if it was someone whom you had good reason to hate? Someone who had always been against you for some reason?
I was reading the autobiography of Phoolan Devi whose uncle stole property from her father so that they lived in terrible poverty. Who would beat her mother with a stick whilst her mother cowered, sent people to batter and rape Phoolan, and whose son later on went on to steal the only thing of value left to the family.
I read of another lady in South Africa whose child was taken away and murdered. Later on they took her husband and tortured him. Finally she was dragged to see her husband lying in pain burnt alive.
What if it was someone like that?
What if someone like that was caught dealing drugs, for instance? We all know the penalty in our country - death by hanging. At the very least, the rotan (cane).
What would we do? Would the bitterness and anger that we have at the person who hurt our mother, burnt our father and did his best to destroy us feel a sense of vindication and cold joy at the thought of him receiving his just rewards?
Or would we offer to stand in his place? Would we say "Set him free. I'll take the punishment." and accept the whips from the rotan or the rope around our necks knowing that all the time, the person who hurt you and your family was going off scot-free to enjoy life and that life abundantly?
What if he wasn't grateful? What if he sneered at you and told you what a fool you were and spat at you as you made your way to the punishment room? And you knew, you knew that at any moment you could halt all this and put him back into the place that you had rescued him from with just one word?
Crazy isn't it? But that's what my Jesus did.
He took my place and all of our places, even yours, at the cross. He endured beatings, heat, slappings by the very ones He came to save, was spat on, jeered at when He fell, and yet to the very last He said, "Father, forgive them."
Isn't it incredible to know how much He loves you and me?