16 “The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.
17 They put a purple robe on Him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Him.
18 And they began to call out to Him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
19 Again and again they struck Him on the head with a staff and spit on Him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to Him.
20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led him out to crucify Him.” Mark 15:16-20
Before we talk about the abuse Jesus went through I want us to notice the sequence of statements that end “on Him”. They put a purple robe on Him. They twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Him. They called out to Him, “Hail king of the Jews.” They struck Him on the head and spit on Him. They paid homage to Him and then they mocked Him. They stripped Him and then put His own clothes on Him. And then they crucified Him.
The Roman soldiers mocked, tortured, beat and spit on Jesus. And then, fully under the control of Satan, they sent Him off to be crucified. I’ve thought a great deal about this passage in Mark 15 because I know a number of people who have been abused or in some cases still are. It is difficult when facing abuse whether it is physical, mental, verbal, sexual or even spiritual to believe anyone else knows what you pain you are going through. But, in this story of Jesus being tormented by the soldiers we are given the picture of Him enduring the pain of abuse.
Jesus is sexually abused because He is stripped naked, mocked and jeered at. The soldiers did this to humiliate Him and belittle His self-worth. Next they physically abused Him through cramming the crown of thorns into His head, striking Him with a staff and whipping Him. They mentally abused Jesus by spiting on Him, which is a gesture of utter contempt. They pretended to worship Him and knelt at His feet in mockery and antagonism.
So why did Jesus allow all this to happen when only hours earlier when confronted by many of these same soldiers He simply said a few words and they all fell over? (See John 18:6) He did it because He could identify with the pain and hurt of every person who has been abused. When Jesus suffered at the hands of the Romans He was saying you are not alone in your abuse. I understand it and I know what you are going through.
But there is even more to it than that. He is so identifying with those who are abused that He died so that they could have eternal life. In other words He brought unimaginable hope to the broken and beaten of this world. Jesus has not left us alone to suffer the indignities and degradations of predators and abusers. He brings comfort, strength, courage, and determination to each person.
First of all the Gospel teaches that there is no sin, no failure, and no problem that God doesn’t forgive. So many people who have suffered abuse believe that somehow they are to blame and if only they had not done something wrong none of the abuse would have happened. Jesus says that is not true, you have done nothing wrong.
The abuse of Jesus was unfair and so is the abuse that any person has to deal with in life. Forgiving ourselves is the biggest step in recovering from abuse. Trusting that Jesus loves us unconditionally and never casts us out or turns His back on us is an amazing source of comfort and support.
We play the tape of abuse over and over in our head, reliving the pain of the abuse and searching for answers for why it happened. In many cases we are never going to know why certain people act the way they do and end up predators and abusers, but we do know that Jesus carries our pain with Him and longs for our freedom from the weight of feeling guilt and shame.
Jesus loves us unconditionally and there is freedom, peace, assurance and joy in that unconditional love. We don’t have to be good enough, do everything right, say the right words, act the right way, perform the right way, or be the right way for God to love us. He proved that at the cross, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Jesus died for us in spite of the fact that we mess up, err, make mistakes, sin, and don’t do everything right. We are simply loved for who we are.
When Jesus stood before the Roman soldiers suffering their abuse He took all the pain and suffering of every abuse victim in the history of humanity to the cross with Him. He carried the pain, guilt, shame and misery of abuse to the cross. And in its place He poured out His love, assurance and comfort to all who would put their trust in Him.
If you are in an abusive relationship you can do something about it. You don’t have to suffer continual abuse because God never created you for that kind of suffering. He created you to be free in life, to have joy, peace and experience love. God loves you and longs for the best for you and provides it through the death and resurrection of His Son that you may know that, regardless of what you have suffered here, your eternal life is assured.
* The persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…