Gospel News · January - April 2015

least, you did not do it to me.” (Mt. 25:34-
The Lord says that our attitude to Him when
He was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked and
imprisoned is going to be the crucial decider
of our judgment outcome. The historical
Jesus was all these things on the cross. Let’s
just prove that:
I was hungry - The Lord was hungry on the
cross. The spear thrust resulted in a clear
separation of blood and water, suggesting
that His bowels had completely emptied at
some point between the last supper and
His death. The psychological trauma of
Gethsemane, with sweat as drops of blood,
would surely have involved such bowel
I was thirsty - The Lord said “I thirst”. A
stranger- The Lord’s blood money was used to
buy the place of “strangers” (the same word
used in Mt. 27:7 s.w.); He was treated as a
Gentile especially in His death on the cross.
Naked - The Lord Jesus was naked or at least
without clothing on the cross. Crucifying Him
afresh puts Him to a naked shame (Heb. 6:6).
Sick - The same Greek word translated 'weak'.
“He was crucified in weakness... we also are
weak in Him” (2 Cor. 13:4). The Lord carried
our weakness / sickness (Mt. 8:17, quoting
from the prophecy of the crucifixion of Jesus
in Isaiah 53).
In prison - “Prison” was understood by Peter
as a fair description of the Lord’s sufferings,
“to prison and to death” (Lk. 22:33). In His
death, the Lord went to the “spirits in
prison”, He was with them? / us there (1 Pet.
3:19). But “prison” wasn’t necessarily under-
stood as a building with “Prison” written on
it. Legion was “bound”, imprisoned, with
fetters (Lk. 8:29 s.w.); and yet still free.
Likewise Paul was ‘bound’ or ‘imprisoned’ to
a soldier (Acts 28:16 s.w.). The Lord's binding
could therefore be fairly understood as an
imprisonment. And He was imprisoned at
least for 24 hours before His death.
So we can say that hunger, thirst, being a
stranger, naked, weak and imprisoned are all
things which the Lord experienced during His
life and especially in His death. His brethren,
His body, share His sufferings. We are to
minister to them as we would have done
were we there beholding the sufferings of
Christ on the cross. We should emerge from
such ‘beholding’, as we do it at the memorial
meeting, practically resolving to reflect it to
His brethren. And we are the more motivated
by realizing that all those situations of
hunger, thirst, imprisonment, weakness and
nakedness are in fact metaphors for our own
spiritual poverty, which the Lord through the
cross responded to, in utter grace. As He has
done spiritually to us, so we are to do, spiri-
tually and materially, to others. All those
symptoms of poverty are often (although far
from always) the result of mismanagement,
weak motivation, unhealthy copying
patterns, chronically missed chances… and
yet in spiritual terms, those things are the
story of our lives. In the materially poor we
see exact reflections of ourselves, of our
spiritual poverty and failures. As the Lord has
graciously responded to us in our weakness
and self-inflicted poverty, so we are to do to
His people.
Just as Jacob saw himself in Laban, so in the
materially poor we see ourselves in the
mirror - in spiritual terms. If we were to be
standing before the cross of Jesus, we would
do anything for Him. Imagine Him there
speaking to you, through a mouth full of
broken teeth, gasping at the pain of filling
lungs with oxygen as He hung crucified. If He
asked for a drink, we would run to get it, and
bravely risk our lives to bring it to Him. But
the cross in essence is still there. We meet
Him crucified today through our encounters
with the least of His brethren and their
needs. The art of our lives together is to
perceive the Christ in each other, especially
in those who are “the least of My brethren”.
The word is elsewhere used about the spiri-
tually least. And Paul alludes to it in saying
that our attitude to the feeblest, weakest
members of the body of Christ is so vital (1
Cor. 12:21); the weak are indispensable to
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