For the record, I really have no idea what the above saying means, or where it came from for that matter… but it sounded appropriate. Why is the proof in the pudding? I do understand the gist of the saying, otherwise I would not have used it to title this entry. But the nagging question remains, why is it in the pudding? Why not the pie or cobbler for that matter?
At any rate, I digress…
So I had to preach this past Friday. It was Good Friday and, as such, my text was pretty much picked for me. It was my job to deliver a message on the crucifixion. We found ourselves in Luke 23. In my opinion (one I personally feel is derived from the authoritative Word of God), it is not the preacher’s job to come up with anything new. I have heard it said, that if we as preachers and teachers come up with something new after the work of scripture has been complete and studied for 2000 years, then we have obviously done something wrong. My desire is not that people would hear anything I have to say, but that I can simply show people what God has already said.
During my preparation for this service, I was struck by the logical argument made by those crucifying Jesus.
And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:35-37)
Jesus was given one last chance to prove His power. Certainly, no believer today would argue that Christ did not have the power to remove himself from the cross. And most of us have heard the lyrics to songs saying, “He could’ve called 10,000 angels” to remove himself from the cross. Yet, Jesus dismissed these taunts. Instead of securing a position of power, instead of shutting the mouths of those who were insulting and laughing at him, Jesus chose to stay on the cross. He chose the suffering, and he chose his death. The two thieves on either side of our Lord had no option about whether to stay and let people ridicule them or to get down, but Jesus did. Jesus could have saved himself, but he did not. Jesus, did not save himself; he saved us instead.
Jesus’ act on the cross was a sacrifice, but it was more than that. It was a willing sacrifice. How many lambs do you know that would chose to climb up on the alter and stay put? How many people, for that matter, do you know who would allow themselves to be ridiculed to do good for others? How many people are willing to accept a slap in the face that was meant for someone else? Jesus proved something far more significant in staying on that cross than he could have ever proved by pulling himself off. He proved that God is love.
Furthermore, as those who claim to follow Christ in all we do, there is a message for us here. In his letter, Peter does well to pick up on this when he says,
Servants be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:18-24)
Oh God, may we take a cue from our savior (who, instead of fulfilling some selfish need for entitlement, entrusted himself to Him who judges justly) and swallow our pride. We do not have to be seen as right. We do not have to prove ourselves. If we follow Christ in his suffering, if we make the lives of others more valuable than our own image, if we become a willing sacrifice instead of one that seems to have been drug to the altar; then the proof will be in the pudding.