"and we esteemed him not"

John Piper’s desiringGod should be essential reading for evangelicals. The latest of his “fresh words” is titled “Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ’s Work, not Muhammad’s”. From these most refreshing fresh words, some vital clarity on the difference between us and them:

What we saw this past week in the Islamic demonstrations over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad was another vivid depiction of the difference between Muhammad and Christ, and what it means to follow each. Not all Muslims approve the violence. But a deep lesson remains: The work of Muhammad is based on being honored and the work of Christ is based on being insulted. This produces two very different reactions to mockery.

If Christ had not been insulted, there would be no salvation. This was his saving work: to be insulted and die to rescue sinners from the wrath of God. Already in the Psalms the path of mockery was promised: “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads” (Psalm 22:7). “He was despised and rejected by men . . . as one from whom men hide their faces . . . and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

…That’s the most basic difference between Christ and Muhammad and between a Muslim and a follower of Christ. For Christ, enduring the mockery of the cross was the essence of his mission. And for a true follower of Christ enduring suffering patiently for the glory of Christ is the essence of obedience. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). During his life on earth Jesus was called a bastard (John 8:41), a drunkard (Matthew 11:19), a blasphemer (Matthew 26:65), a devil (Matthew 10:25); and he promised his followers the same: “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” (Matthew 10:25).

Back in the bad old days, the Roman Church, having nobody around to tell them that their bishops weren’t wearing any clothing (metaphorically, perhaps…), they went around in triumphalist fashion, making an idol of The Christ and conquering and converting in His name by the sword. Not exactly something Jesus would have us do — certainly not in His name.

The Reformation attempted to set things right, and return the church of Christ to its proper, suffering servant model. That is, we all suffer with Him, serve His people, and die with Him on the cross. Not in triumph, but hated by the world.

Islam took the different path; the path of war, the sword, and idolatry of that which is less than God: Mohammed.

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