On Good Friday we celebrated in a rather odd way, we went to watch the L.A. Avengers defeat the Arizona Rattlers in Arena Football at the Staples Center. The fireworks, the smoke, the video screens, the touchdowns, the players getting knocked into the crowd…. All of it was so much fun! Throughout the time we were there, I kept trying to help Trevi (my 4 year old daughter) cheer for the “Avengers” rather than the “Revengers.” My futile attempts led me to think that perhaps this was exactly where we should have been for Good Friday.
One of the most remarkable moments in Jesus’ life during the week of the Passion was His unwillingness to take revenge on his false accusers, the way He held back the angels of heaven from coming to rescue Him. Rather than taking revenge, He took on the cross.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Throughout the Scriptures we are reminded and challenged to entrust our desires for revenge to God. Whether it is King David’s angry prayer to God asking that “his enemies might see their babies’ heads dashed to the ground” in Psalm 137 or Paul’s letter to the Romans in which he writes “Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath….” (Romans 12:19-22). When we want revenge, we should hand those people over to God.
Even harder to swallow is Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in which he goes even beyond “Don’t take revenge” to say “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (I Corinthians 6:7).
Jesus Himself challenges us to “turn the other cheek” and even “love our enemies,” those who have wronged us (Matthew 5:38-48).
Sitting there in Staples Center, I reflected on times I had attempted to plan revenge at different times throughout my life. Looking back, I realized revenge never made things better.
As my mind wandered, I began remembering moments from this past week with the family during Caleb’s Spring Break which seemed to remind me of this same message:
In Meet the Robinsons, the bad guy was motivated by revenge (a somewhat confusing and at times boring movie that had a great moral to the story – the importance of learning from failure and a mantra which challenged us to “keep moving forward” even when we are wronged).
After an amazing dinner and conversation with some new friends at La Botte in Santa Monica (the best Italian meal I have ever experienced), I was reminded of the importance of forgiveness in marriage (Debbie and I had a few battles this past week which seemed to be overcome after dinner with two Christian Psycho-Therapists).
In Blades of Glory, two sworn enemies decide to work together to become the first male couples figure skating partners (even though I had seen these scenes in the preview, I haven’t laughed that hard in a movie in a long time).
On this day, Easter Sunday 2007, I am reminded of how we can trust Jesus with our lives and even with the lives of others including the people who have hurt us.
Jesus died without taking revenge. In fact, He rose from the dead to love those who killed Him.