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Sep 17, 2017

The Abuse Jesus Took

Passage: Matthew 27:27-31

Preacher: John Huizinga

Series: 2017 Sunday Messages

Category: Sunday Message

Keywords: abuse, aslan, beaten, cs lewis, jesus, mocked, safe church, abuse awareness

Summary:

We’d rather not talk about abuse. But on the way to the cross Jesus suffered abuse. It’s detailed in Matthew 27: stripped, beaten, mocked. Jesus was abused and God was not quiet about it. To tell us we don’t have to take it and we shouldn’t be quiet about it. Jesus was raised to life, vindicated by the Father. As his body, the church is to strive to be a safe place of that grace: a place where children are valued and kept safe, where stories of shame and pain can be shared on the way to restoration, and where each person strives for personal purity through confession and repentance. Abuse is not easy to talk about. But there’s a word for it from Jesus so we can find new life again.

Detail:

The scripture passage jars us

when we read it removed from

the Lenten season before Good Friday.

A peaceful Sunday morning

sitting with friends and family,

and all of the sudden we are hushed

and shaken by the violence:

They stripped him . . .

and then twisted together a crown of thorns

and set it on his head . . .

Then they . . . mocked him.

They spit on him,

. . . and struck him on the head again and again.

 

Jesus suffered abuse

on the way to the cross

for you and me

because God so loved the world.

What kind of life did our savior experience?

He was abused.

Hard to hear.

Hard to imagine.

 

Just as it is hard to hear about

and hard to imagine

the instances and circumstances of abuse

that confront us,

whether on the news

or in our communities

or among friends and families.

We’d just as soon ignore the issue.

It’s not easy or pleasant

to put a sermon together on abuse awareness.

It’s not easy to listen to one either.

But that’s nothing compared to experiencing abuse.

 

So our Savior did not ignore

the sin of abuse.

I am with you always, he promised.

And here too,

Jesus suffers for us.

He bears it alone.

His disciples have

one by one betrayed him,

denied him, and

run out on him.

The church is nowhere near Jesus

when he is abused.

It’s Jesus who bears the burden and sorrow

for us and because of us.

 

All the sorry history

of humanity’s abuse –

the violence,

the verbal abuse,

the bullying,

the emotional abuse,

the shaming of a body,

and the physical wounds –

all of it from

Sarah toward Hagar,

Judah toward Tamar

Samson and Delilah,

the unnamed woman in Judges 19

abused, left for dead

and then dismembered,

David and Bathsheba,

the prophet Malachi’s words

on divorce and its violence,

to Herod’s slaughter

of the children of Bethlehem

and the hill country of Judea;

the forty lashes of abuse borne

on the bruised back of Jesus.

 

So that we don’t ignore the cries.

So that we don’t content ourselves

with just looking away or preferring silence.

So that we look to the Holy and Anointed One

for forgiveness and repentance,

for hope and kingdom peace.

So that we pray ‘your kingdom come’

yearning that God’s will be done on earth.

 

CS Lewis re-imagines the hurt and horror of it all

in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

The great lion Aslan is a figure of Jesus.

In order to bring justice in the land

he allows the white witch to sacrifice him

(just as Jesus went to the cross

to take away the sin of the world).

Before the sacrifice,

the witch commands her people

to bind  Aslan and then shave off his mane

to humiliate him,

and as they do they mock the lion:

“. . . they rolled the huge lion over on his back

and tied all his four paws together,

shouting and cheering

as if they had done something brave,

though, had the lion chosen,

one of those paws could have been

the death of them all.

But he made no noise,

even when the enemies, straining and tugging,

pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh. Then they began to drag him toward the Stone Table.

“Stop!” said the witch. “Let him first be shaved.”

Another roar of mean laughter

went up from her followers . . .

snip, snip, snip went the shears

and masses of curling gold

began to fall to the ground.

“Why, he’s only a great cat after all,” cried one.

“Is THAT what we were afraid of?” said another.

And they surged around Aslan, jeering at him,

saying things like

“How many mice have you caught today, cat?”

and

“Would you like a saucer of milk?”

“Muzzle him!” said the witch.

Everyone was at him now . . .

so thickly was he surrounded

by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him,

hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him . . .”

Can you imagine that scene?

I’m thinking there are those,

even among us,

who can.

They have experienced the same.

CS Lewis writes it this way

to let you see

that Jesus really has suffered for and with you.

This is a children’s book

for even children know

that abuse is wrong.

 

Thru that whole scene

“Lucy and Susan held their breath . . .

They cry:

‘how can they,’ tears streaming down . . .

They couldn’t bear to look

and covered their eyes . . .

But, the face of Aslan looked to Lucy braver,

and more Beautiful,

and more patient than ever.”

Here’s the thing:

When Aslan triumphs

and is raised again to life,

there is a different response;

these children become fighters.

The brothers reconcile.

They heal the wounded.

They are crowned kings and queens

and told to bear it well

their gracious ruling.

 

Jesus took it for you and me

so we don’t have to.

Just as he was forsaken

by the Father

so we never have to be forsaken

again by God,

so he was abused

so we don’t ever have to settle for that.

So we can strive for safe places

and whole relationships instead.

He took it for you and me

and he conquered

so we could conquer in his grace.

The church who wasn’t there at the cross

is raised in the Spirit

to follow Christ and be there now.

 

The abuse Jesus took

wasn’t the end of the story.

His resurrection brought new life,

restoration,

faith, hope and love,

with the church charged

to be in the middle of this

new kingdom,

to build peace with God,

with others,

with one’s self,

a belonging to a community

of healing and joy.

 

His word to you who have suffered abuse,

who have suffered it silently

as Jesus suffered silently;

who carry the wounds

of shame and guilt and pain,

know today Jesus took it for you

to take it from you.

Remember again that our Heavenly Father

raised him from the dead

to vindicate the Savior

as a guarantee of your new life

in Christ.

 

These words are also given to us, the church,

so we choose his words over silence

when it comes to abuse.

We are his body,

and as Jesus saves,

so now we are to bless

people, communities, church gatherings,

relationships and families

with the safety and restoration of Jesus.

Yes, we are spiritual brothers and sisters

with those disciples who abandoned Jesus.

More than that,

we are spiritual brothers and sisters

with those disciples bringing

the peace of God’s kingdom

to the last, least, little and lost in the world.

We are to take faithful steps together

from abuse awareness

to the blessings of a safe church.

 

When stories of abuse are told

we often hear things like:

“If only I had told someone…”

“If only I had recognized the signs…”

Our CRCNA Safe Church Team comments:

‘These and similar phrases

are often spoken after the fact,

after the deep pain and devastation

caused by abuse.

“If only … (insert regret here)”

…and all this heartache

could have been avoided.

We, as church communities,

need to be proactive in preventing abuse,

but how?

One way is to start at an early age to teach,

clearly, respect for self and others,

provide the language and safe space

to talk about difficult situations,

safe and unsafe feelings,

and involve the church community

in the process.

Circle of Grace is a program

with the goal to equip children and youth

to participate, actively,

in a safe environment

for themselves and others.’

 

We’re looking at this curriculum now

to see how best to implement it.

 

Our motivation is to value

the children of community and families

as Jesus valued them:

Matthew 18

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest

in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him,

and placed the child among them.

3 And he said: “Truly I tell you,

unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position

of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child

in my name welcomes me.

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—

those who believe in me—

to stumble, it would be better for them

to have a large millstone hung around their neck

and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

 

The word ‘stumble’ means

"to cause a person

to begin to distrust and desert

one whom he ought to trust and obey;

to cause to fall away."

 

We don’t want that.

So as we bring safe practices into

our children’s ministries

we’ll have to learn new habits,

but I pray we do so gladly,

in order to proclaim

how highly we value children

and providing a safe place of grace.

 

We also work to be aware of abuse

in order to make church -

including what we do on Sunday

and throughout the week,

or even when 2 or 3 gather in his name -

to make church an open place

where stories of hurt can be shared

until they become new stories

of healing and life.

One Safe Church online article says this:

 “There is no agony like having an untold story inside you.” - Zora Neale Hurston

When you discover that people can know the story, and yet still love and care for you,

and even begin to understand,

empathize, and offer support.

It can make all the difference in accepting it, accepting yourself,

and moving on to a better place.

It can be like a huge burden has been lifted.

It’s like the healing presence of Jesus,

who knows us completely,

and yet still calls us to be his children.

Is the church safe enough

for untold stories to be told,

a place where we can feel supported,

where difficult conversations can take place,

and where healing can begin?

 

John Piper: ‘For many women,

the thought of a husband or relative going to jail

and losing his job and being publicly shamed

is so undesirable that they often endure much sin before becoming desperate enough

to turn to the authorities.

What I want to stress is that

long before they reach a point of desperation —

or harm — the women of the church

should know that there are spiritual men and women in the church that they can turn to for help.’

That should be true for any of us,

young or old,

female or male,

and even for our neighbors in trouble.

 

Here is a reason for adding Safe Church policies

to how we do church,

so we become not only a safe place,

but safe people,

aware people,

approachable people,

people on the journey toward

health and healing

and Christ-like relationships.

 

Having Safe Church or abuse prevention policies

in place shows that we value one another,

especially the children

and most vulnerable among us.

Policies help create

a nurturing environment to worship

and grow in faith,

while minimizing the risk of abuse

or false allegations of abuse.

So as we work at these things let us each

be a blessing and a help.

Let us take steps together

as we learn the language and action

of safety and blessing.

 

One last thing:

personal purity itself blesses our community.

The Bible has its sordid stories like

the unnamed woman in Judges 19

abused and dismembered

and the Samaritan woman at the well,

outcast and humiliated.

But we do too,

stories that are brainwashing us

to accept that anything goes

when it comes to our sexuality.

Only these stories are dressed up

as fun and attractive

and what we want to be:

stories like those on

The Big Bang Theory

This Is Us

Modern Family

even rpg games

stories heard in Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran lyrics

and really almost any top ten song,

the easy access to pornography,

and even the alcohol and hookup culture

on college campuses,

and the expectations peers put on each other

as prom night approaches.

 

We have a saving message to tell,

a different story from

what is heard and seen on TV, iTunes,

at the movies, online

and on campus and down school hallways.

But this message has to be seen,

it has to be seen being practiced,

valued, encouraged.

Can we commit to heart

what the Bible teaches about healthy

human sexuality instead?

I invite you to get out a copy or look online at

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 in The Message.

Talk about it as husband and wife,

are we communicating this holiness

to our friends,

to any children we have?

Talk about it as young people

and young adults

and how to prefer to be holy

and support each other in holiness.

12 Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

13 You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!

14-15 God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body. You wouldn’t take the Master’s body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not.

16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

 

Let people see God

in and through our bodies,

and how we treat others

and safeguard their bodies.

Jesus took it for us

so we can live a new life.

Jesus conquered

so we can bear witness

to his healing restoration.