better you than me

There’s an old saying, “Better you than me.”  I think we can agree that this phrase came about when something bad happened and someone was happy that it happened to the other person and not to themselves.  I did a search and there’s a site that says if you want to add clarification to it you can elaborate by adding the word witch with a b:  “Better you than me, *****.” 

In Letters and Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is writing about bombs dropping all around him as he sits imprisoned in a German concentration camp during WWII.  He quotes Psalm 50, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.”  He is writing this letter to his friends (some guards sneak his letters out).  But Bonhoeffer tells them that when he thinks of them, he says, “Better me than you.”  Better me than you sitting here in prison.  Better me than you having bombs drop all around them.  Better me than you having this trouble shake me to the core.

During this Lenten season, this time of looking at our lives through Christ’s eyes, I can’t help but say to Jesus, “Better You than me.”  He lived the perfect life I could not (and still can not) live.  He took the punishment that I deserve.  We don’t have to understand how we get credit for His perfect life.  We don’t have to understand the definition of the atonement, how the shedding of His blood is able to cleanse us and keep us from being punished.   We simply have to believe it and accept it for ourselves.

Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted. 
But he was pierced for our transgressions, 

   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed. 
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all. ~ Isaiah 53:4-6

Aren’t we thankful that Jesus said, “Better me than you.”


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