Slavery, the cross, and my evil heart
Our history surrounding slavery never fails to stun me. What kind of evil man would whip another man senseless for the sake of money and power? What kind of evil man would ignore the suffering of another for the sake of keeping his own status? What kind of evil man would withhold from another man his needs in order to maintain his own luxurious lifestyle? I mean, how can so much evil and hatred fit within the human heart? These are the questions which haunt my mind. Until I realize that I’m that man.
I’ve never owned a slave. But my sin put Jesus Christ through the most dreadful torture known to man. Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah.
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:3-6 ESV).
It was my sin for which Christ suffered. It was my arrogance for which Christ bled. It was my sin for which Christ died. For my every selfish action. For my every prideful thought. And I esteemed Him not, turning away as He suffered. How can so much evil fit within my heart?
Let’s take a trip to the New Testament and see how we treated Jesus like a slave.
“Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?’” (Matt. 26:67-68 ESV).
“And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 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!’ And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head” (Matt. 27:28-30 ESV).
How easy it is to view the Jews with disgust for the way they treated Christ. But I’m guilty for His death, too.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. . . .” (1 Pet. 2:24 ESV).
But there’s a profound beauty in the sacrifice of Christ. As the rest of 1 Peter 2:24 says, “. . . By his wounds you have been healed” (ESV). Sounds exactly like what Isaiah writes. When we repent of our sin and find redemption in Christ, we’re made righteous. We’re completely forgiven.
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Col. 1:21-22 ESV).
But the beauty of this redemption cannot happen unless we admit our sin. Until we realize the evil in our hearts, we’ll never experience the fullness of God’s grace.
Father, may I realize that I am just as evil as those who tortured innocent slaves. May I realize that I am just as guilty as those who spit in the face of Christ. May I realize that I, too, am responsible for the beatings You endured. May I come to terms with the incredible evil and deception in my human heart. But let me not stop there. May I place my faith in You. What love You showed by coming for a sinner like me. What redemption I find through the blood of your Son. And what joy I carry each and every day. Because of Jesus, I stand before You without a single fault. Praise be to You.
In the name of Jesus,