Earlier this week, someone was describing to me in detail a particular situation that they found themselves in. They felt they had been wronged – really, objectively, wronged – by someone. They were describing to me how it made them feel. As I was listening to them, I found myself empathizing with them. They felt betrayed, confused, and angry. I felt that, if I were in their situation, I would likely feel the same way.
I began wondering, “How would Jesus feel if He found Himself in this situation? What if someone treated Him this way?” My initial thought was that He would surely respond as this person did, and as I myself would have. It was at that moment that I realized that I was projecting my emotions and reactions onto Christ. I was, essentially, making Christ into my image, rather than the other way around. I was not, at that moment in time, being transformed by the renewing of my mind and being conformed to the image of God. I was creating within my head and heart a God who was fashioned after me – how I felt, how I thought, how I reacted, how I spoke. And yet, the God that we read of in Scripture is nothing like the way I was making Him out to be.
Matthew 26 is an amazing chapter. It begins by talking about Judas Iscariot, who of course betrayed Christ and gave Him over to be crucified. Matthew writes of the Last Supper, when Jesus is gathered with His disciples. He informs them that one of them is going to betray Him. Judas, feigning ignorance and innocence proclaims, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus’ response says it all. Essentially He says to Judas, “You said it!”
Now, that scene of betrayal was exactly the type of conversation I was having at the time. Betrayal, confusion, anger, all began to circle in my head. Would Jesus respond the way I envisioned Him responding?
Not at all. Scripture records in Matthew 26:26-28 the response of Christ to the ultimate betrayal by one of His closest associates.
“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
It was at that moment that I realized that I was extremely guilty of idolatry. I was creating a god that looked and thought like me – vindictive, selfish, and vengeful. But the Jesus I saw in Matthew 26 was gentle, meek, selfless, and loving. He didn’t throw Judas out, He didn’t proclaim Him a traitor, and He certainly didn’t seek to betray Him in return. He simply shared His last supper with his betrayer, and pronounced blessing and thanksgiving over the body and blood that would enable forgiveness for even the vilest of sinners.
Wow. My heart was broken. How could I be so shallow? How could I paint a picture of the Lord by looking in the mirror? It was not possible, and yet that time was one of many that I had attempted to paint the ever-loving Christ in such a way.
Let me encourage you to look to Scripture and seek Christ. Let me encourage you to continually visit Him in prayer and ask Him to change your heart and fill it with Him. If we do not, we will find that even in the informal settings of drinking coffee and talking about life with others, we will portray a false god whom we have imagined and constructed in our image – thinking like us, feeling like us, acting like us. The unchanging Good News is that Christ died for your sins, to provide forgiveness and reconciliation. Even when we are guilty of selfishness and idolatry.
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.