Will We Follow Madiba in Emulating the Bible’s Three J’s?

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Who are we to determine who should go to Heaven and who should not?  We are nothing but sinful creatures, who know  nothing about Heaven!  All we depend on is the holy Writ which, from Genesis to Revelation, points the way to salvation.  And when, by the grace of God, we find someone who has tried to live the life prescribed by that holy Book, we can only speculate, suppose, surmise and hope that he is, by the grace of God,  bound for Heaven.

Who are the three J’s and why do we link Nelson Mandela to them?  We answer the second question first, by affirming that this great son of Africa and the world was a man who possessed what all the three J’s shared: faith, hope and love, which Madiba not only believed in, but demonstrated all his life.   

As a boy, he grew up under the yoke of racism, inflicted by the whites of South Africa.  But Nelson had faith and hope in the God of Justice who Madiba knew would one day hear the groaning of His people and deliver them from bondage.  And, like the first two J’s, Madiba, during 27 years in  prison—held fast to the faith, maintained the hope and NEVER gave up!

And who were the first two J’s? Joseph the Dreamer, and Job.  Even in that dungeon of the well into which his brothers threw him, and on to being sold into slavery, Joseph  never surrendered his faith and hope, even in the other dungeon of prison.  He went on from prison to Prime Minister of Egypt, just as Mandela went from prison to President in SA!

The second J was Job, who lost all his riches—children, health and other possessions, but held steadfastly to the faith and hope, for which God handsomely and miraculously delivered him and restored his fortunes a thousand fold!

Then came the third J—Jesus—who got the worst of the other two, death on the cross but who, too, held on to faith and hope because He knew that His Heavenly Father would deliver Him.  And sure enough, on third day, He did!

Here now comes the third and greatest of all virtues: LOVE.  This love was demonstrated by all three of the J’s: first, Joseph, who forgave his brothers who had delivered him into delayed death—slavery.  Just remember all our African ancestors who died in the dungeons of slave ships and on the cruel and inhuman slave plantations.  Is it not a miracle of God that so many of them survived to remain in the Caribbean, in South America (Cuba, Brazil, etc.) and in the United States? A black man is today President of USA. Some of the ex-slaves migrated to the Grain Coast to found Liberia.

And yes, Job not only held fast to his faith and hope, but love, too, as he forgave all his friends who deserted him in his loss and pain. 

Now came the crowning moment of the Master, Jesus, who bore the brutal whipping and murder on the cross; yet even while yet there, in His first words under the most excruciating pain, cried:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

This brings us back to Joseph who as his brothers, in fulfillment of Joseph’s dream 13 years earlier, bowed to him. He forgave them saying, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

That finally leads us back to Mandela who, after leaving prison, had every reason to be bitter, vengeful and vindictive, but NO! in faithful following of the three J’s, Joseph, Job and Jesus, Madiba stretched out a hand of love, forgiveness and reconciliation to the very people who oppressed him and his people so long and even killed so many of them.

“Come,” he told them in love and sincerity, “let us rebuild our country together!”

This editorial is designed to demonstrate that each and every one of us can learn something from not only the three Biblical J’s, but from him who lived and walked amongst us—Nelson Madiba Mandela.

Will we?  May God grant. 

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