Abuse is making the headlines more than ever before. It is one of the trending topics and practices of our time.
In North America a number of big names in the entertainment, broadcasting, religious, political, and business world have come under fire for sexual abuse of women.
Our nation is smarting at the moment from an unprecedented series of abuse against women and children. Some men even claim that they also are being abused by women. However, the abuse against little Ariel Bolah tops the charts.
We seem to have psychopathic deviates among us who take pleasure in practicing their sadistic games on helpless elements in our society having learned their craft from Television and the internet.
Abuse, whether sexual, mental, or physical is clearly violence against another person. It often starts off as sexual violence and, as in the case of lawyer Ted Bundy, and then metastasizes into full blown violence and murder.
The recent event is a case in point. Abuse in whatever form has no place in civilised society because it is an attack on the civil rights of citizens and is an affront to the constitution by which our society is guided. Yet the proclivity towards abuse in one form or another exists in the heart of every individual.
The fact that we can hate one another is evidence of the potential towards abuse. Out of a hate-filled heart emerge violence and murder. We feel hate towards those who have what we want, are different from what we are, or hold a different opinion.
Today I want us to take a look at the ultimate example of abuse in order to find in it redemptive value. But can there be redemptive value in abuse, you may ask? Let us find out.
Isa 52:14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ had to be the ultimate abuse. The prophet Isaiah gives us a vivid picture of this even before it took place 700 years later.
Crucifixion was not invented by the Romans. It goes back to the Carthaginians’ who had occupied North Africa and was later adopted by their arch-enemies.
Jesus was charged with blasphemy by the Jews and if they had their way they would have stoned him to death as was their custom. But after taking control of Palestine the Romans took away the power of capital punishment from the conquered people. They then crucified Jesus as requested by the Jewish authorities.
Crucifixion affected every part of his body besides making breathing difficult while he was suspended by metal nails. Each wounded area of his body corresponded to some part of our own body which is used to disobey the commandments of God.
(1). He was wounded in the head (Mind). That he might be judged for our evil thoughts
(2). He was wounded in his hands. That he might be judged for our evil deeds
(3). He was wounded in his feet. That he might be judge for our evil ways
(4). He was wounded on his back. That he might be judged for our stubborn wills
(5). He was wounded in his side (heart). That he might be judged for our sinful desires
The redemptive nature of his abuse lies in the fact that it was done on our behalf on account of our sins. It was not cosmic child abuse on God’s part as one has charged.
We deserved to be punished for our sins; but Jesus Christ the innocent Lamb of God, the Son of God was provided by his Father to take our place.
The centre cross was not meant for him but for Barabbas who represented us. Barabbas was freed and Jesus was crucified. The name Barabbas means “son of the Father.”
The son of the father was saved from death that the Son of the heavenly Father might die for him in his face and for all mankind.
Maximillian Kolbe was in the news earlier this year. He was a Polish priest who was imprisoned in Auschwitz concentration camp by the Germans during WW II. One of the prisoners escaped and the Germans decided to send ten prisoners to the starvation chamber in reprisal.
One of the condemned men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began to cry out, “My wife! My children!” Out of compassion for the distressed prisoner Kolbe asked for permission to take his place in the starvation chamber.
It was granted and along with the other condemned prisoners he was taken away.
After two weeks he became extremely weak and was delivered from his misery by a lethal injection. After being released Gajownizek spent the next fifty years traveling all over the world with one message: “Kolbe died for me!” He himself passed away in 1995.
Christianity has had one message over the past two thousand years, “Christ died for all mankind!” As the songs says, “Jesus died for all mankind and Jesus died for me.”
Those who engage in the abuse of others do so for selfish or sadistic reasons. Those who abused Jesus did so for similar reasons. They were motivated by jealousy and hatred. Yet God used the very hatred and cruelty of men as leverage to bring about their redemption from sin. Through their worst he demonstrates his best. His superlative love shone through their cruel abuse. John 3:16.
We may not be guilty of abusing others but we are all corporate participants in the ultimate abuse – the crucifixion of the Son of God. He suffered because we sinned. Our ultimate sin was in rejecting and crucifying him.
It was not just the Jews who cried, “Crucify him.” It was all of mankind. It was not just the Romans who laid merciless stripes upon him, placed a crown of thorns upon his head, drove nails through his hands and feet and a spear into his heart.
It was all of us mankind. But it was the means God used in order to show us his love and redeem us from our sins. Should we not then repent of our sin and receive this Saviour who suffered and died on our behalf and rose again?
The sexual and physical abuse of the vulnerable in our nation grieves the heart of God. He feels the pain as much as he did when his own Son was abused. But he is willing to forgive the perpetrators of the abuses and pre-empt the further practice if our people would turn to him in repentance and in faith.
Our corporate guilt as a nation needs to be cauterised by repentance and cleansing in the blood of the one who gave his life for us. This is not about religion as men think of it but about a relationship to God.
When we are not right with God we cannot treat one another with the decency and respect that we ought. We need a new appreciation and respect for the persons and sexuality of one another.
Abuse is clearly an indication of a gross departure from moral and spiritual values. Only transformation by the power of God can accomplish and fulfill this need.
It all begins when a man or woman gets down before God and submit to his will and authority.