Torture and Jesus

Methods of punishment and/or torture have changed much over the last few centuries.  But in some ways, they’ve stayed the same.  Whether one believes in water boarding or not, it’s been in the news the last several years.  Is this particular practice torture?  Is it simply data gathering?  What about obtaining information from the enemy?  Isn’t anything “fair game”?  What exactly is torture?  What does the Geneva Convention have to say about these things?  And what does this have to do with Moltmann’s Christ for today?

Moltmann points out that there have been many motives for torture.  Judicial motives are used to punish for a deterrent.  Secular motives of punishment worry more about the end justifying the means.  Personal motives point to the selfish core of each and every man.

So what about the torture of Christ?  Does this in any way mean Christians should condone torture?  Should they be willing to accept torture simply because they follow Christ?

Pilate had Jesus flogged (Mt 27:26; Is 53:5).  Other translations record “scourged”.  Historians tell us torture by scourging was a brutal beating.  The purpose was to break one’s will and motive to live before they were crucified.  Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, My God…”  Paul writes that “he (Jesus) emptied himself” (Phil 2:7).  Can you imagine?  God in the flesh.  Jesus Christ.  Allowing Himself to experience torture.  But why?

Of course, the first that comes to mind is the martyrs – those who died for their faith and beliefs.  “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Rev 6:10)  Scripture also tells us that Jesus faced every temptation (including those that come with torture) and yet never sinned (Heb 2:14, 4:15).  Therefore, in torture or persecution, Jesus is our brother.  He has been there and done that.

Often, we in the Western world, forget there are Christian martyrs even today.  What of those who profess Christianity in the Sudan, in China, Indonesia, etc.?  And Christ stands with them as well.  Christ is their brother.

Secondly, torture/persecution once took place in public view.  People were burned at the stake (in the center of town).  Jews in Nazi Germany were forced to sew the “Star of David” on their clothing.  Witches in Salem were hanged in public.  But times have now changed.  Executions take place behind closed doors.  Edicts or orders are simply carried out.  Names disappear from the rolls of the living.  And everyone goes about their business.

Moltmann quips that one part of judgment will be the time that those murdered/persecuted/tortured return and have the opportunity to face their tormenters.  “Victims…have a long memory, for they still carry the unforgettable scars of their suffering.  Those who caused that suffering have short memories.”  That is, until judgment day.  Christ will return and restore all things.  Those tortured or persecuted for the sake of Christ will be honored as victors.  After all, Christ is our brother!




2 Responses to “Torture and Jesus”

  1. Yes, Jesus has been there and done that and felt it all…
    “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15)

    What I don’t understand is why those who were tortured will return to face their tormentors…How will the victims be honored as victors?

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