No one likes to be labeled as a loser – especially in life. Yet many are and as a result pay a very heavy emotional and psychological price.
I believe there were times in the life of Jesus when, if the term existed, he would have been labeled as a loser. I have no doubt the religious establishment of the day ultimately regarded him as such – as did many of his would be followers.
There was the moment for example, recorded in the Gospel of John, when, after some difficult teaching, a large number of his disciples deserted him. Ultimately of course in the face of the crucifixion they all did. I can hear the taunt of “loser” on the lips of his enemies and the sadness encapsulated by the same term in the minds of his family and erstwhile friends.
But it is as Jesus hung on the cross itself that the shouts of “loser” must have been at their loudest. He had promised so much – but now it had all ended in ignominy and disgrace. To most he must have appeared as the ultimate loser.
Even today some religious observers look at the life of Jesus and see only a good man caught up in the random chance and circumstances of life and living – leading ultimately to his premature death. In their estimation he was, as we so often are, powerless over the circumstances of life. While there may indeed be some truth in such a view – for he was as human as we are as he faced the vicissitudes of life – it is far, very far from the whole story.
Even in the early Jewish scriptures there is evidence that God, at times, became the loser. Take the incident recorded in Genesis 32 where we find Jacob in a wrestling match with The Almighty. Surely God will prevail! But no – Jacob wins – God loses! Neither, it appears, is He at all embarrassed at having lost out to man. And it is in God’s loss that Jacob’s life is transformed! His name is changed, his purpose is restored, his destiny is established his broken relationships are mended and he becomes the father of a new nation. All because God became the loser!
This story should help us to see “Jesus The Loser” in a new light. The same principle which is at work here is put another way by the Apostle Paul –
“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9
We could say – “Although he was the winner – he became the loser”! And he did it voluntarily. Yes He faced the randomness of life with it confusion, pain, uncertainty and grief – but he choose to! And as I gaze on the cross I am forced to disagree with many religious observers and highly regarded theologians – for “The Loser” on the Cross was not there by chance or unavoidable circumstance over which he had no control – he was there by choice – or perhaps more accurately through the choice of obedience. And it is as a result of his loss that we with Jacob can be transformed, renewed, restored and become part of a new nation – the Kingdom of God.
And yet the concept of “Jesus The Loser” becomes a challenge at another level. Might it just be that the time will come when we will be asked to follow in his steps and take on the role of “Loser” – for the blessing of others. I most definitely believe so. There are many examples at every level of life but perhaps the most striking modern equivalent is the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. There is no doubt he was considered a “loser” in his Russian homeland – spending 11 years in labor camps and exile. But ultimately his life and writing played a large part in destroying the tyranny of a system responsible for the deaths of over a million people in the Gulag alone – to say nothing of the millions who died outside it. Of course Solzhenitsyn became well known and a hero to millions – but most “losers” in this respect remain anonymous, hidden – known only to God.
To a greater or lesser extent all of thoes who truly follow “The Loser” may well be asked to take on the same role – for the good and blessing of others. Who ever said Christianity is the soft option?
“These things are all a part of the Christian life to which you have been called. Christ suffered for us. This shows us we are to follow in His steps.”
1 Peter 2:21