Job 30:5-10 (ESV)
They are driven out from human company;
they shout after them as after a thief.
In the gullies of the torrents they must dwell,
in holes of the earth and of the rocks.
Among the bushes they bray;
under the nettles they huddle together.
A senseless, a nameless brood,
they have been whipped out of the land.
And now I have become their song;
I am a byword to them.
They abhor me; they keep aloof from me;
they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.
Job’s suffering is made worse by the fact that even those whom people despise now despise him. It is one thing to suffer without understanding why. It is another thing to suffer and be despised by those around you. It is worse yet to suffer and be despised by those who are themselves despicable. How do you deal with that?
That raises an interesting question in my mind. How do you suppose Jesus felt while being judged, beaten, and nailed to the cross? I don’t know that I ever saw the parallels between Jesus and Job before, but here is a perfect man being despised and rejected by the most despicable of mankind. Job said, “They do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.” In Matthew 26:67 and 27:30 the gospel recounts that the soldiers spit on Jesus and struck him. How did Jesus respond? While hanging on the cross he looked to heaven and cried out, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
The truth of the matter is that most people acting in sin, hypocrisy, and despicable behavior are blind to their own brokenness. Jesus didn’t say, “Father, forgive them for they really didn’t mean it.” He didn’t say, “Forgive them, for they are really pretty good people. They just got carried away.” He didn’t say, “Forgive them, for they thought they were doing the right thing.” He said, “They don’t know what they are doing.” Sin is connected to blindness. The soldiers knew exactly what they were doing. Job’s tormenters knew exactly what they were doing. Evil, dishonest, and hypocritical individuals usually know exactly what they are doing. And yet, they don’t. They are blind to truth. They are blind to their own hypocrisy. They are blind to the righteousness of those they torment. They see the world through a twisted lens that distorts truth, and turns right into wrong and wrong into right.
It is one thing to suffer for something we deserve. It is another thing entirely to suffer at the hands of the ungodly. The book In His Steps, by Charles Monroe Sheldon was based on the last part of 1 Peter 2:21, “…that you might follow in his steps.” Based on that passage, the main character in the book began to order his decisions around the question, “What would Jesus do?” It is a great question that prompted the WWJD phenomenon within Christian circles. The problem is, the question fails to take the first part of the verse into consideration. The whole verse reads, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21 ESV). What would Jesus do? He would suffer unjustly for those who do not deserve it. Are we willing to follow in those steps? That is where Job walked. That is where Jesus walked. That may be where he is calling you to walk as well. WWJD? “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”