The Suffering Messiah 4 "Physical Abuse
When a closed fist hits soft flesh – pain happens. It can leave bruises and welts on the surface of our skin – even breaking our bones. The bruises are what we see, produced by the broken blood vessels inside our skin. While we can’t see the damaged blood vessels, we can see the damage that has been done when they break.
How Can Jesus, the All-Powerful Savior Connect His Story With Our Story Of Life-Threatening, Bone-Jarring, Visible and Invisible, Soul-Damaging Physical Abuse?
- Every 9 seconds, a woman is battered in the U.S.
- 95% of all victims of domestic violence are women
- Domestic Violence is the single major cause of injury to women, more than muggings and car accidents combined – 50% of all women murdered in the United States are killed by a spouse or an acquaintance
- Domestic Violence occurs in 60% of marriages and is the most underreported crime
- Domestic Violence is responsible for a $3 to $5 billion loss each year for employers due to absenteeism with over $2 billion in medical and mental health treatment costs every year[i]
How Can Jesus Identify With Us When We Have Experienced Physical Abuse?
Jesus Christ, our ‘Suffering Messiah” chose to include physical abuse as a part of prophecy in His Father’s plan of salvation, (Isaiah 50:5-6; 52:14; 53:10-11; Luke 22:24-26; Acts 2:23-24).
God’s Salvation Story Is NOT a “G” Rated Story:
How bad was the abuse Jesus went through?
If we were there, we would have been unable to recognize Him as a human being, as He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy predicting that:
- His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness (in other words, they turned Jesus’ body into a piece of ground up hamburger and we would never recognize Him as a human being)
- Jesus would not turn away. He offered His back to those who beat Him, His cheeks to those who pulled out His beard; Jesus did not hide His face from mocking and spitting. (Isaiah 50:5-6)
Listen to Michael Card’s description of the whip used by the Romans soldiers in his insightful book A Violent Grace:
“This instrument of torture consisted of long leather straps embedded with pieces of bone or glass.
Occasionally lead balls were woven into the thongs to increase the impact of
the blows. And while the law of Moses stipulated a maximum of forty lashes
minus one, no such limit existed in Roman law or practice…
In fact, the only stipulation Roman law made was that a man would be flogged
until the flesh hung from his back. The blows fell until the skin split open and the muscles were severed;
until ligaments tore and bones chipped. Some men were disemboweled. Many did not survive.”[ii] (italics mine)
Jesus went through all of this abuse to embrace the visible and invisible wounds in our bodies and our hearts. He knew that the deeper pain of physical abuse actually lies in the wounds they leave in the depths of our souls. We can’t see these injuries any more than we can see the blood vessels breaking inside our skin – but they are just as real. And because our ‘soul’ represents the deepest part of our being, our identity about who we are, these invisible wounds last long after our body heals the physical wounds and bruises. In fact, they can and will last a lifetime if we don’t bring them to Jesus Christ, our ‘Wounded Healer.’[iii]
Satan whispers his messages in ‘first person language,’ creating the ‘roots’ of negative beliefs with thoughts like:
- I’m worthless – I’m hopeless
- I’m powerless – I’m helpless
- I’m unlovable – I can’t trust anyone
- I’m a throw-away – I don’t deserve any better
- I’m more afraid of being alone than being abused
- I don’t know how I will provide for myself and my children.
Jesus chose to embrace all our abuse in His humanity, as the “Lamb slain from the FOUNDATION of the world,” (Rev. 13:8), so He could earn the right to earn our trust and heal our wounded hearts.
As we turn to Jesus to trust Him with our brokenness God can turn our wounds into His gold mine of grace, telling us:
- what we learned to believe about ourselves, and
- how Jesus can identify with us
- so we can receive His healing and ‘peace that passes understanding’ (Phil. 4:7),
- moving us into ministry for others who have been hurt and abused in life.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for voluntarily choosing to identify with me when you were physically abused, suffering all the temptations to believe You were worthless or powerless – to trust in Your own strength, Your own anger to protect yourself. And turning to Your Father instead, embracing all my pain and anger, with all the negative messages I’ve received, so You can heal me and set free to receive my truest, deepest identity as Your son/daughter.”
In Your name, Jesus, Amen.
Physical abuse can leave scars on bodies and hearts. Sexual abuse can at times leave even deeper wounds. Next week we will explore how Jesus can minister to the brokenness of a sexually abused person, showing how where sin abounds grace does much more abound!
For a more profound understanding of the Suffering Messiah, please visit our resources tab where you will find audio presentations on such topics as:
- The Hidden Half of the Gospel
- Freedom from Shame and Guilt
- Freedom from Anger and Rage
- Freedom from Satan’s Secret Weapon
[ii] A Violent Grace, by Michael Card, p. 64-65
[iii] Malachi 4:2 Jesus fulfilled prophecy as He “rose with healing in His wings.”