Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. Psalm 22:16 (NIV)
“Whatever bad thing you can imagine, you can be sure there are a lot of people who are doing that thing, and worse.” A metal worker at Chicago Bridge and Iron shared that rather pessimistic philosophy with me when I was in high school. Back then I didn’t believe him. I do now.
NFL Quarterback and dogfight promoter Michael Vick has helped make me a believer.
It never occurred to me a respected and wealthy athlete like Vick would taunt, starve, torture, and give steroids to a dog to make that animal more violent. I never thought anyone would dispose of a less violent animal by body-slamming the beast to the ground. It never occurred to me that an estimated 40,000 of my fellow Americans would think watching dogs maul, maim, and murder each other was a sport worthy of being followed.
All of which has led me to conclude the real “dogs” aren’t the ones with four legs and a tail.
That thought isn’t an original one. Around thirty centuries ago, King David referred to some men as being “dogs.” In the twenty-second Psalm, he made some Holy Spirit-inspired prophecies about the Savior’s death. David foretold how innocent Jesus would be encircled by dogs, evil men who would have the Savior’s hands and feet pierced by nails. The picture of God’s innocent Son being put upon by dogs must have been a horrifying concept to the King.
The suffering and sacrifice of the Savior is horrifying to anyone who reads the Gospels as they tell of His last hours. The leaders who should have supported and been faithful to the Christ stalked Him like bloodthirsty curs. The crowds that had once praised Him, and tried to make Him their King turned into snarling, snapping beasts as they called for His crucifixion.
And how did Jesus react to “the dogs?” Did He beat them, kick them, or yell at them? No, He did none of those things. Jesus allowed the dogs to tear at Him but He did not retaliate; He allowed Himself to be bloodied, but He did not defend Himself. Jesus gave Himself for those dogs, so they could be transformed. Jesus gave Himself so mad dogs might be transformed into redeemed disciples.
So the most vicious of dogs might be delivered and adopted.
This takes me back to the beginning of this devotion. Even as I am shocked at the bestial things humans can do, I am overawed by the sacrifice the Savior made to save us from ourselves. And this corrupt canine is glad He did.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You have seen each of us at our worst. You have seen us as brutal beasts filled with anger, jealousy, and rage. Even so, You loved us and gave Yourself for us. May I live in eternal gratitude for what You have done. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries