The announcer warns us that the “following images are graphic.” All of a sudden the TV screen is throwing our way the scenes of brutality. Uncommon now? No. The red “stuff” running down the face from the gash at the hairline isn’t fake; it is the blood of the one being dragged away. At the same time, the person is being hit and kicked, and cursed.
Watching it wasn’t making me a better person. I don’t know if it was making me a worse person. Maybe time holds the answer to those questions. In any case, I said to myself, “you don’t know the back story, do you?” That was true. I didn’t know what initiated the event plastered on the tube.
Regardless, what I was watching was, to some degree, not making people better, but worse. The “victim” (who might have been a perpetuator several moments before), the people who beat and gashed the blood spattered fellow (were they first responders at the riot, people of the “opposite side”?), observers who were screaming epitaphs at their “enemies” – who of them would be a better person once the angry and raging emotions and violence had settled down?
Crowding its way into my mind and competing for my attention was the narrative of Jesus being equally beaten, violated, and treated like garbage. It was the image of Him, who when dying was literally taking upon Himself the brutality of sinful men, the brutality with which they had treated others before Jesus and sad to say would treat others after Jesus. It was Jesus saying, “don’t brutalize others, don’t hate others, don’t do any of that to others. Do it to me instead.”
It staggers me to think of Jesus offering Himself as the one on whom the sin of people runs its course, and has nowhere else to go. The evil lands on Jesus and doesn’t bounce off Him onto others. The concrete wall that would ricochet the vicious projectile immediately back toward the one who delivered it, or back at someone standing close by, has been covered in a super thick sponge that absorbs all that destructive energy. The sin has been borne by the innocent one who seeks no revenge, no pay back, no equal evil for evil!!! He says, “Do it to me instead.” Evil is stopped by being absorbed.
And then there is the one writing this. I will never be the vicarious bearer of sin as Jesus was. I can’t, however, but wonder if I am prepared to take the brutality in the place of someone else. . . be the sponge wall. Could it be possible that my future, or that of some dear friends, could include that? I haven’t gotten that far in the book yet. I am not even sure I want to know.