Week 4, Day 26
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
How does someone make a statement like Jesus does here? “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I have often reflected how much inner strength it requires to endure this moment of cruelty and still make a declaration that is completely others-focused. Now that is real strength!
For years I have been stumped by the best definition of “masculine strength.” As a person who is genetically designed by God to be of the male species, I have sought an understanding of this my whole life. Of course the answer is not easy to find because strong Godly role male models are in short supply. Because of this we often default to turning to a failing world of inadequate role models to assess the distinctive qualities and features of true masculine strength. And as we all know, our culture poorly defines this concept. And I know this because I have embraced wrong beliefs on this subject that have led me down wrong patterns of behavior.
I believe we see a great example of masculine strength in these twelve words of Jesus. I think Jesus’ posture here represents a glimpse of real strength; masculine or simply spiritual. Strength like no other. Not strength that conquers people through authority, manipulation, or domination, but rather a paradoxical strength, one that appears weak and self-abdicating to physical eyes yet is superhuman to those with spiritual sight. A strength that makes us uncomfortable because our flesh wants to reject it. It is a strength we rarely witness in ourselves or others.
In Christ I see the greatest of strength in this moment, and here is how we should define true strength. Strength is to possess the inner power to submit to God’s sovereign plan while living through injustice, while remaining focused on the eternal destiny of others. While we may not be able to fully understand the complexity of this moment, this is Christ’ definition of strength.
If you are looking for strength, consider these three questions and focus on addressing the one that stands out to you. Where do you need to submit to God’s plan? Where are you living through an injustice? Where do you need to remain other-focused? Share your thoughts with someone you trust and spend some time in prayer.
Father, I need to trust in you. I know I do not possess the strength that Christ demonstrated here, but I do not want to fail you. God will you use me and bless me with the strength to continue to endure and live with resilience, and will you please give me the strength where I lack it!