The Wrong “If”

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The Wrong "If" (Challenging Your Belief in God)

Earlier this week, I considered this verse from Luke’s account of the crucifixion:

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying,

If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

Luke 23:39

I still can’t get over the audacity displayed by this dying man.

Demanding that Jesus, God made flesh and dwelling-now-dying among us, prove Himself…

after He had already proven Himself time and time again.

He was proven from even before He was born by the events surrounding His birth – dozens of precise details that were predicted hundreds of years beforehand.

He proved Himself by His words – truth spoken and wisdom shared that was so profound, so unheard of, that even as a boy he had the religious leaders marveling. He spoke of forgiving sins. He spoke of being One with the Father. He spoke of a God who invites worship in spirit and in truth.

He proved Himself by His miraculous power. By His hand, the blind could now see, the lame could walk, the demon-possessed were sane, the diseased were healed, and the dead were raised.

He was proven by the testimony of others. A certain cousin named John the Baptist comes to mind – the one who declared Jesus “the Lamb of God” who had come to take away the sins of the world.

The witness of the shepherds comes to mind – a rough and ragged bunch, the lot of them, but how their faces must’ve glowed as they recounted their personal visit from multitudes of angels.

The testimony of the woman at the well comes to mind, as she ran back to town, urging that the people come and meet a Man who knew about all she had ever done.

And this dying criminal dares to cast taunts toward this God-Man: “If you are the Christ…”

Such scorn…

such derision…

and it all started with one little word.

If.”

Contrast this with a statement made by another man Jesus encountered:

“Lord, if You are willing,

You can make me clean.”

Matthew 8:2

Ahh, now this “if” is one I can get on board with. And judging by His response – “I am willing. Be clean” – Jesus did, too.

These words were spoken by a leper – one of society’s outcasts with a sealed fate and a hopeless existence.

Until one day when he dared to approach Hope Himself. Not brashly. Not presumptuously. Not with entitlement or conceit or even the slightest bit of demand.

With one simple, humble request, he put the ball in Jesus’ court (where it always belongs anyway) and acknowledged His lordship as well as His power.

Notice the difference when I rearrange the very same words spoken by the leper:

If you are Lord, you will make me clean.”

Not a single word was added to the diseased man’s statement. And yet contempt replaces humility. Condescension replaces honor.

All because the wrong “if” replaced the right one. 

It turns out, that was precisely the dying thief’s problem. He wasn’t asking whether Jesus was willing; he doubted that He was able. Derided His power. Denied His very Godhood.

And what about you and me, dear fellow Christ-followers? Is our “if” one of submission? Or does it reek instead of suspicion?

Do we demand that God prove Himself by jumping through the hoops we’ve set up for Him? Is our belief in Him conditional, based on whether He behaves the way we expect? Or whether He deals with us in the way we desire?

I urge you to resolve with me today to echo the prayer of the leper – and incidentally, that of our Savior:

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.

Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Luke 22:42

 

Want more encouragement in your Christian walk?

My 30-day devotional, Drawing Near: 30 Days Toward Intimacy With God, is now available on Amazon! Drawing Near 3D cover

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4 thoughts on “The Wrong “If”

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      I think you’re exactly right, Dawn. Having a proper view of ourselves and a proper view of God is so critical – everything else hinges on it. Thank you for your kindness.

      Reply
  1. Inez

    you are right on.God looks on our hearts.Our relationship with God is not to always tell him what he needs to do for us , but to thank and praise Him for what He has already done. Loved us because without His love we are incomplete for His grace and mercy and the free gift of eternal life and the free gift of salvation.Praise God He loves us so much and never never turn us away no matter how many time we fail Him . Praise God.

    Reply

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