Last week as I was reading through the Gospel account of Christ’s betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, I was struck with how often this narrative exposes the mentality, nature, and tactics of abuse. This really should not surprise us because abuse is just plain sin. I think that it is in fact perhaps the most “diabolically beautiful” portraits of sin to be found.
Its essence is the lust for power and control over — everything! It is the acting out of Satan’s declaration, “I will be like the Most High.” In other words, the abuser, like the devil, lusts to be God. Understand that and your eyes will be opened to everything else he does.
Consider with me then how abusers joined together to kill the Son of God on the cross. After each section of Scripture, I will identify the abuse tactics and/or mentality that is so characteristic of this great evil we have all come to know too well:
Mat 26:20-25 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. (21) And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (22) And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” (23) He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (24) Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
Abusers are most often people whom we believed to be our intimate friends, such as a spouse.
Mat 26:31-46 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (32) But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (33) Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” (34) Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (35) Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
(36) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” (37) And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. (38) Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (39) And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (40) And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? (41) Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (42) Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (43) And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. (44) So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. (45) Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (46) Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Many people will claim to stand with a victim against the abuser, but when push comes to shove, they don’t.
Mat 26:47-50 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. (48) Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” (49) And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. (50) Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
The kiss of Judas. The abuser’s method of betrayal and abuse is so often couched behind a facade of “love” for the victim. Especially in the presence of witnesses.
Mat 26:55-56 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. (56) But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
The abuser so often does his dirtiest work at “night” and brings out the most wicked forms of force and coercion at such times. He dares not show his real nature in the daylight. Once again, notice that no friends stand with the victim at such times. They all leave and flee.
Mat 26:58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.
Following at a distance. How many of our friends do this? Not with us, but tagging along behind where they won’t suffer.
Mat 26:59-61 Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, (60) but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward (61) and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”
Lies. False allegations. An active seeking of false charges so as to bring condemnation upon the victim. Notice also how these evil men used Jesus’ true and righteous words to condemn him. “Well, wife, is it not true that you said….”?
Mat 26:65-68 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. (66) What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” (67) Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, (68) saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
The essence of abuse in regard to the innocent is murder. The abuser’s righteous victim must be destroyed because she KNOWS him and stands in the way of his quest for power, control, and deity. Notice also the tactics of mocking and the instilling of fear through physical assault.
Mat 26:69-74 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” (70) But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” (71) And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” (72) And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” (73) After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” (74) Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed.
Miraculously, and only because Jesus had prayed for him, Peter would repent and return to Christ, the Lord Jesus later giving him a gracious opportunity to confess Him as Lord 3 times to counter Peter’s thrice denial of the same. But here, once again, someone very close to Jesus betrays Him, refusing to stand with Him in that darkest hour.
Mat 27:20-31 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. (21) The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” (22) Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” (23) And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
(24) So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (25) And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (26) Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
(27) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. (28) And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, (29) and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (30) And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. (31) And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
The abuser works toward this end: that the wicked are justified and the righteous are condemned. See this horridly typical fact: the Son of God is crucified while the terrorist is set free and permitted full privileges. The tactic of mocking is seen here once again. Notice however the sobering self-judgment the abuser pronounces upon himself: “His blood be on us and on our children.” And so it is.
Mat 27:39-44 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads (40) and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (41) So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, (42) “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. (43) He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (44) And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Here you have the public shaming of the victim, the slander and wagging heads and tongues. How often do we see this in so-called churches after a victim is shamed away? How often do such people claim that if the victim was truly righteous as she claims to be, then God would be on her side and all these bad things would not be happening to her.
Mat 27:55-60 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, (56) among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
(57) When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. (58) He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. (59) And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud (60) and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.
But in the end, there might be one, or two, or maybe 3 people who prove to be genuine friends of the victim. Take careful note that the most consistent friends of the mocked and crucified Jesus were women. Perhaps a more logical explanation is that they, and perhaps even Joseph, had suffered for following Jesus before, thus experiencing the evil of abuse themselves? Inevitably, these are the kind of people who will stand with us in the end.
Excellent comparison, Pastor Crippen! Thank you for all your hard work as you continue to shine the light of God’s Word on this pervasive evil in the church. May God bless you and your family abundantly!
Good post, Jeff!
This reminds me of a poem I wrote several years ago, titled “The Guilty Stain of the God-Slayers.”
One of the ideas I was trying to convey in the poem is that God did not have wonder about how Jesus would die or whether mankind would kill him. It was a foregone conclusion. Fallen man would do their best to kill God…because that’s what fallen man does…it’s what we’ve been doing since Adam.
Here’s a link to the poem. if you’d like to read it… http://josephjpote.com/2014/04/the-guilty-stain/
yes, friends have followed me “from afar”….opening up about my 3 years of spiritual abuse within a church setting has certainly not endeared me to fellow Christians….for the most part, people seem to now look on me with suspicion…..sharing what happened, what was said etc causes an uncomfortable silence…..people avoid the subject……because OF COURSE ITS IS UNCOMFORTABLE!!!
This has been a v lonely experience, causing me to lose Christian friends, as at times, in desperation I have reached out to the wrong people and not got the response I needed……spiritual abuse has been a massive problem for me…..causing depression, anxiety and intense rejection and isolation…..Christians in general are ignorant of this and do not know what to do so they turn away….thank you to Jeff for exposing this evil.