“Go on, take possession of the vineyard.” (1 Kings 21:15)

Just thinking about the way Naboth was treated by Jezebel and Ahab can make your blood boil. What a horrendous injustice! They completely ignored his rights and used false accusations to stir up a murderous mob to get rid of him. And their scheme worked. Naboth was put to death, and Ahab and Jezebel got what they wanted.

Sadly, Naboth is one of a long line of righteous victims in the Scriptures. Think of Uriah, deprived of his wife Bathsheba, and eventually of his own life. Think, too, about Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery just because of a special gift his father had given him. Or think about John the Baptist, who lost his life because of Herodias’ burning jealousy and Herod’s fear.

Despite the differences in these people’s stories, they all have one thing in common: They foreshadow the suffering and death of Jesus, the ultimate righteous victim.

Of course, Jesus willingly took on the role of scapegoat for our sake. When the religious leaders stirred up public opinion against him because they were afraid of the Romans, Jesus didn’t defend himself. Even when he was arrested and beaten and bruised, he willingly accepted it. He laid down his life for us. No one took it from him.

Think of all the times that Jesus showed himself as a servant: washing the disciples’ feet, feeding the mul­titudes instead of demanding their worship, forgiving rather than judg­ing. And he did it all so that he could rescue us from sin and death.

By living such a humble, submit­ted life, Jesus showed us a new way to live: not maneuvering to get what we want at the expense of others, not flaunting our power or authority over others, but finding ways to serve other people and lift them up, not tear them down.

Jesus overcame our sin by serving, even to the last drop of his blood. May we all follow him by freely choosing to serve today. Let’s decide now to reject the temptation to deceive or manipulate to get what we want. Let’s pour out our lives for the people around us, treating everyone with justice and love!

“Thank you, Jesus, that by embracing your passion and death, you have defeated death and taught me how to live!”

Psalm 5:2-7; Matthew 5:38-42