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A Gross Injustice
By Mary Craig
In Isaiah 58.6, God declared, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" Things had gotten so bad in Israelís history. Power was being abused. The defenseless were being dominated by those choosing to indulge brutish passions. Rebellion rose in those who would show no restraint of evil, with feet swift to shed blood and tongues practicing deceit. It was a time of brutal oppression; a time when people rejected their Creator, the Source of all goodness, mercy, compassion, truth, justice, and love; a time like today.
Godís voice of judgment on injustice came through His prophets, the mouthpiece of His message and burden. His soul hates the wicked and those who love violence (Psalm 11.5, 7). He describes such a one in Psalm 10, and says He will hear the cry of the oppressed and afflicted and defend them.
To seek justice and rescue the oppressed is a biblical mandate (Isaiah 1.17). Justice is fundamental to the holiness of God (Isaiah 61.8). But what is justice that we might consider a gross injustice?
Justice has to do with the exercise of power. Justice occurs when power and authority are exercised in conformity with Godís holiness, goodness, purity of heart and mind, mercy, and love. As power and authority are delegated, be it political, economic, social, moral, religious, familial, cultural, coercive, mental, psychic, etc., it is to be exercised in conformity to what God says and to who He is. Justice correlates to whether mankind will walk this earth in dominion, as culturally mandated in Genesis 1, or in domination. In other words, when given the power or authority, position and opportunity, will you give or will you take, will you love or will you hate, will you build or will you destroy, will you nurture or will you exploit?
Injustice occurs when people with power take from others what God has given them. We can think of things like life, dignity, health, well being, liberty, the fruit of oneís labor, and love. Injustice is the strong preying on the weak, the greater coercing the lesser, the arrogant persecuting the humble. These have pride, are greedy for gain, lurk in secret, seize the poor, and think God has forgotten and will never see it. The abuse of power is sin. (Amos 5.12)
God, however, delights in justice and righteousness. He exercises kindness. (Jeremiah 9.23, 24) God requires of us that we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. (Micah 6.8) He has compassion for the victims of injustice. Paul in 2 Corinthians 1.3 calls Him the Father of compassion.
In compassion, God rescues the oppressed. In compassion, God sent Jesus Christ. Jesus fell prey to a gross injustice. He never sinned. He had no original sin and no practical sin. He was holy, with a pure heart, and good. He did nothing and had nothing in His holy heart deserving of evil. He was the only true victim of injustice to ever walk this earth.
The gross injustice Jesus suffered is a story of attempted coercion and attempted deception. I say "attempted" because coercion involves the compelling or constraining of a person to act against their will because of physical force or the threat thereof or the threat of some dire consequence. Jesus did not act against His will.
Jesus was arrested by "a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people." (Matthew 26.47) With weapons and brute force, these came prepared to physically hurt and/or detain anyone who would stop them. They were sent by other people, authorities higher up, the "real" powers who laid claim to lawful authority. They were the "proper" authorities, religious and civil.
It all reminds me of satan. He comes wielding some legal claim to threaten and accuse, with threats of dire consequences and force. He sends his emissaries and works through earthly hosts who do his bidding. He deceives in order to defraud. He lies in order to destroy. "The mouth of the wicked conceals violence." (Proverbs 10.11)
Under a claim of lawful authority and legitimacy, the religious rulers demanded the arrest of Jesus Christ. They sent an armed force to coerce if necessary. They desired to isolate their victim from any who might come to His aid. Jesus did not succumb to their evil. He went with them voluntarily. He asked that His disciples be dismissed, even as they fled. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. (Matthew 26.47-56; Mark 14.43-52; Luke 22.47-53; John 18.2-11)
Oppressors try to create an atmosphere of intimidation so that people fear to ask the questions that might allow the truth to be revealed. Oppressors cannot tolerate inquiry. The band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus bound and led Him to Annas first. Then He was questioned by the high priest about His disciples and His doctrine. One officer struck Jesus with the palm of his hand. (John 18.19-23)
False witnesses were sought and found to make accusation of blasphemy and crimes worthy of death. The chief priests and elders and the council demanded that Jesus prophesy after they spit in His face and buffeted Him and mocked. He was delivered to Pontius Pilate, the governor over Judea. When accusations came, Jesus was silent. As Pilate marveled, Jesus told Pilate, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate gave his classic, "What is truth?" and left, finding no fault in Jesus Christ. (Matthew 27; Mark 15.2-5; Luke 23.1-5; John 18)
Pilate sent Jesus to Herod and Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. Then he released Jesus to the peopleís court. The choice came between the release of Jesus or Barabbas. The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The cry of the people rose into the heavens. "Let Him be crucified." The governor protested, but he did not prevail. The people cried, "His blood be on us and on our children." The people claimed no king but Caesar. (Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18, 19)
Jesus was taken to the Praetorium where He was stripped and robed with a scarlet robe. Soldiers put a crown of thorns upon His head and a reed in His right hand and bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him in a pretense of worship. They spit on Him and smote Him and led Him away to crucify Him.
Crucifixion was the most shameful and painful way to execute a criminal. The Romans had become experts at this means of capital punishment. Crucifixion was for outcasts and not mentioned in polite society. Jesus was led outside the city to the place of execution. A placard announced the crime.
It was customary for soldiers to share the loot at such an execution. The soldiers parted Jesusí garments and cast lots, fulfilling Psalm 22.18. The full accusation of His crime was placed over His head: "THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS." Ironically, one of the thieves to Jesusí side must have believed this first gospel tract and disbelieved the courts. Who knows? Maybe a little rebellion against authority worked in his favor! Anyway, he asked Jesus to remember him when He entered into His kingdom. (Luke 23.39-43)
Jesus was crucified when the city was buzzing. His indictment was written in three languagesóGreek, Hebrew, and Latin. Passersby could stare and shout in mockery. It was Asmodeusí hour to mock the means of grace and taunt Jesus to come down from the cross and prove that He is the Son of God so people would believe. (Matthew 27.35-44; Isaiah 53)
As if the mockery were not enough, Jesus also suffered the rejection of the Father. From nine in the morning until noon Jesus hung in the daylight. From the sixth hour until the ninth hour, or from noon until three in the afternoon, there was darkness over the land. There were three days of darkness in Egypt before Passover (Exodus 10.21-23) and there were three hours of darkness before the Lamb of God died for the sins of the world. (Matthew 27.45; Luke 23.44-46)
Jesus had spoken three times before this darkness fell. He prayed that His Father would forgive them, for they knew not what they did. He had spoken to the repentant thief and had given His mother into the care of John. Now there is silence for three hours. Then He cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" This was a direct quote from Psalm 22.1. 2 Corinthians 5.21 tells us that it was during the time of darkness that Jesus had been made sin for us. He had been forsaken by the Father. The darkness was a symbol of the judgment He endured when He was "made a curse" for us (Galatians 3.13).
Then Jesus spoke three more times, saying "I thirst." "It is finished!" "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." With a shout of victory, He finished the task.
At the culmination of this gross injustice, the death of an innocent man, Jesus was in complete control over his life. Yes, He shouted from that cross. He voluntarily yielded up His spirit and died. Death could never have held Jesus Christ and did not hold Him. Jesus was "crucified through weakness." (2 Corinthians 13.4). He endured darkness, thirst, and abandonment of God. He felt the wrath of God and separation from God. But three miracles took place simultaneously.
The torn veil was a prophetic act indicating that Jesus conquered sin. Access to God was now possible. Jesus overcame evil with good. He overcame judgment with mercy. He overcame injustice with grace. Those being raised from the dead were the beginning of the devilís worst nightmare, for Jesus, through death, annulled him who had the rule (kratos) of death, that is, the devil. (Hebrews 2.14) In tasting death, in sharing humanity with human beings, Jesus became the perfect Mediator of a new covenant, the perfect Mediator between God and Humanity. Jesus abolished death. The gross injustice which He suffered at the hands of devils and humans did not destroy Him. He established Godís indictment against it and broke the yoke of its power, domination and deceit.
In the Fatherís desire and design to rescue the oppressed and victims of injustice, He sent Jesus to work One Righteous Act of love that would overcome hatred, One Righteous Act of good that would overcome evil. And so now,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1.9
Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried. On the third day He rose again out from among the dead. Today He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He is the prevailing force against a gross injustice. He is grace and truth.
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