Dialogs and Commentary

Slugging Jesus?

This is a meditation on Isaiah 53 by way of an intense illustration of the effect of repetitive sin. It is followed by additional commentary on considering the relational cost our sin has on Christ, and how we can break out of the sin cycle by realizing just this. This was originally sent as an email to a brother who was continually sinning and could not seem to stop.

I will share a sort of mental picture I once had that has stuck with me over the years. It came by internalizing Isaiah 53 and considering my own experiential relationship with Messiah.

Is 53:3-7,9,11 (NAS) He [Messiah] was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried... He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers... Although He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth... By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.

I see the Lord Jesus standing in front of me, looking at me with intense love. I am intrigued by this and compelled to move towards him. But after a while, something comes over me and I go into a sort of violent fit. I begin to punch him and pummel him, spit at him, kick him, etc. Unbelievable, unthinkable, but yet I am doing it. He does not retaliate, but just stands there as best he can.

Then I recover myself, and wonder what happened. I say some nice things to him and he smiles at me through the bruises and swelling. I swear I will never do that again, whatever it was. But after a day or two, or a moment or two, here I go again. My arms are swinging and I punch him in the mouth. I kick Jesus in the face as he is keeled over. My damage knows no bounds, and I cannot seem to stop myself from doing it.

This cycle of abuse goes on and on and on. Jesus is suffering real pain because of me, as are others who are passing by and have to observe this sorry spectacle. But my fits seem to have a mind of their own.

As this continues month after month and year after year after year, finally the rage takes a definite form. After Jesus recovers himself from my wanton blows, I ask him "Why do you just stand there? Why don't you leave like a sensible person. Why don't you strike me back? Are you so weak that you cannot stop me? And why do you put up with the abuse of being near a person as obviously hurtful, fickle, and inconsistent as I have proven to be? What is the deal here?"

Jesus looks at me and says, "Because I love you."

"But," I protest, "It makes no sense. What for? All I am doing is hurting you in these fits which I cannot seem to stop--at least for long. Why don't you just spare yourself the pain and me the embarrassment of having done such things and leave me. I do not remember even having these fits before you showed up."

"I will never leave you nor forsake you," he replies--and he has that look again.

"Why?" I insist, and I feel the rage welling up in me again, and the fists begin to clinch. "Do you enjoy this abuse?"

"No, obviously," as he recovers from my latest cheap-shot punch. "But I endure it because I hope that someday you will realize that I am not going to go away, and that there are better things to do than slug me. And let me ask you... why do you continue to give yourself over to these fits, instead of Me? I know it goes against your mood just now, but have you ever considered asking me for help, talking to me, learning of me, even embracing me? This is what I hope for and long for... and why I am putting up with your 'fits' now."

Jesus continues, "Now, will you please stop. Stop hurting me, and start loving me. In any case, I am not going away, and will take all you can throw at me until the end, but this is not why I am here. I am here for better things. Let us get on with them. The next moment is up to you, what will it be?"

By this mental picture I came to understand the effect of my sin on the holiness of God, and my part in His crucifixion sufferings.

If we are grieved and vexed with conviction when we sin because of the small deposit of holiness that we have, is the image of striking Jesus in the face even adequate to convey the pain our Lord must feel--the HOLY ONE--when he sees the things we do? Have we spiritual clarity of vision as to the reality of things?

Perhaps you, like me, have found that you easily fall into fits of indulgent sin that leave behind a wake of pain. When I finally associated the appeal of my intoxicating sin with actually slugging Jesus, the sin began to lose its appeal. Seeing this clearly helped cure me of routinely beating him and then saying fine words between ugly episodes of encounter. For we all have to choose who we love more, sin or Jesus, and the two cannot live together without violence.

Paul said "Those things I know I should do, I do not. The things I know I should not do, those things I do." I do not think this was an academic point nor a theoretical sermon. I suspect that he was weeping while writing it. He knew, better than most, who he was "slugging" by "persecuting" with such failures.

Acts 26:14-15 (NAS) "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' "And I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.'"

This is a strong message, and I hope the Spirit is able to use it in your life to help you make a clean break with sin.

Heb 13:22 (NKJ) But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.

Heb 10:24 (NAS) Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

Let us turn from doing violence to our Savior and Lover of our souls, to instead doing violence to our sin natures by pinioning them up on the cross. Let our carnal natures protest all they like, for if we indulge them again it is like slugging Jesus.

Take heart. This struggle within would not be occurring if holiness were not also present in your body. If you did not have a portion of the Holy Spirit, you would not even care...

This is the appropriate violence of the kingdom of God: to put to death the worthless deeds of the flesh.

And we know that His righteousness and peace and joy will win, in the end.

Heb 10:31 (NAS) It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

1 Pet 4:12,17-18 (Wey) Dear friends, do not be surprised at finding that a scorching flame of persecution is raging among you to put you to the test--as though some surprising thing were accidentally happening to you... For the time has come for judgment to begin, and to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who reject God's Good News? And if it is difficult even for a righteous man to be saved, what will become of irreligious men and sinners?

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