GNB 2.31

February 6, 2023


“Have I not commanded you, ‘Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go‘.” (Joshua 1.9)


It is vital to me to continue to share with those who are seeking to be mighty ones of God the call to recognize our purpose as those who are doing “good.” I have stressed and will continue to do so, that “good” in biblical application indicates being aligned with the purposes of God to be God’s people. If our words and works are not presented with the intention of being “a light to the world” and “the salt of the earth” being Christ’s disciples making disciples in all and of all nations, then what “good” are we? I read another promotion of transformation by a “church” agency which said that our greatest good is to show mercy. And we have looked at that in our reflections over the last two weeks when we studied the call of the Lord’s Prayer. It’s commitment statement was “forgive and be forgiven; forgive not and you will not be forgiven.” Forgiveness is the outpouring of having mercy. Jesus showed mercy from the cross upon which He died. He declared mercy on those who were a part of the crucifixion team (both Roman and Jew). He declared mercy over John the disciples entrusted with the care of Mary the mother of Jesus. In both of those calls to action, however, there was not mere mercy and forgiveness but the realignment of one’s purpose to be fixed on the purposes of God which transform us from common to good, from ordinary to extraordinary.

To the crucifixion team Jesus declared before God “forgive them because they have no idea what they are doing. The herd mentality of the crucifixion effort against Jesus was easily implemented because the herd never allowed themselves to get caught out as dependent on just one person. It nearly happened when Pilate’s one on one conversation was headed into a “have mercy” display of justice. He declared “I have found nothing worthy of crucifixion in this man.” But, he was quickly reined in with the threat of invoking the wrath of Rome to defame Pilate and say he was an impotent ruler. Pilate rejoined the team and order the execution of Jesus and the freeing of Barabbas “at the word of the people.” In other words, we might say that Pilate did just what he “herd.” What was being “heard” was that the very crucifixion for which they called was being used by God as the penultimate sacrifice for substituting Jesus to bear the weight of our sin instead of each one of us. Many went along with the act of crucifixion because they were told and never questioned. Others went along because they lacked a long term vision. But wait, we must not forget the Roman centurion who remained at the foot of the cross alone. When Jesus pleaded for something to drink, the centurion offered Him bitter wine. It was an act of mercy because the concoction was intended to speed up the dying process. But, in the process of Jesus’ dying, the Roman Centurion saw the mercy by which Jesus lived even in the moment of His death. He declared “Surely He was the Son of God!” In that moment, the sacrifice of the Lamb of God was already at work in liberating the unbeliever to call on God for his salvation. That was the “good” work which was being done by Christ for God’s glory and our blessed future.

What of the call of adoption which Jesus issued to His disciple John and His own mother, Mary? The sin of abandonment was easily available. Death has a way of singling us out so that we lose sight of God’s presence and thus of His mercy. Where were the other disciples? In fear of being “singled out,” they hid themselves in the shadows, the dark corners and in the hollow rooms. The words of Peter’s threefold denial bore witness to this “singling out.” He responded “I am not one of them aligned with the One of Him!” The people knew the truth. Peter denied the truth. Yet, here was John who not only did not fear being singled out but stood on the front line of mourning for Jesus. His hope was to bear witness of the love which had become his identity. He supported Jesus through the dying process and drew near to him those who huddled together near the foot of the cross. Jesus knew that mercy was given and could be received in the community of faith. They didn’t have to like the situation to embrace it. Even they were not thinking about the long-term effect of the death of Jesus as the Christ of God. They were thinking about Jesus. Their prayers were without doubt pleading for God to show mercy and bring death quickly regardless of the consequence upon their own lives. They evidenced the “good” courage which was commanded to Joshua. It was into God’s hands they committed the life of Jesus. They trusted God to remain in His place but in that space with them. They were far less fearful of what others would say than they were of knowing they had abandoned Jesus in this darkest hour. For their faithfulness to His comfort, Jesus created an adoptive family to be the very model of how the Church itself should identify itself as its commanded future. The apostle Paul would highlight such “adoptive” identity in his theology of the cross and the good work of Jesus on earth.

It is our true identity as children of God from the beginning adopting our new identity in Christ as authentic and courageous believers. Our mission and purpose in ministry should never be an assumed one. We are called out in being called to go out to declare the message of God’s mercy and love to all people. It is not, however, simple mercy but a transformative one. It is the mercy and righteousness of God to save His people from the penalty of sin which is eternal death and dying. God did indeed show mercy on His Son. Jesus did not die forever under the weight of our sins. Jesus was motivated by the strength of pure love and good courage to bear the cross to its human finality of death. By the mercy of God, Jesus was raised from sin and the grave to dwell again in righteousness on earth as He does in Heaven. It was His good courage, the courage to be faithful and true to His calling by God to lay down His life for another that they might see God. The question for us is what kind of courage are we exhibiting in our ministry to the world as commanded by Christ who said, “Go, therefore, into all the world to make disciples of all nations: teaching them all I have commanded you and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to abide in My presence which is with you always until the work is done.” Charity doesn’t take a lot of courage. Evangelism takes good courage and that is our true identity and calling in life on earth!


Father, grant to us the awareness which is born in Your Word in us. Grant to us the power of Your Spirit to be strong and of good courage to say and do the right thing for the right reason for the righteousness of God our Father. It is Your will to be done just as we have been created and made for in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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