October 13, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“Reproach hath broken mine heart; and I am full of heaviness.”
Nothing should ever hinder us from recognizing that the sufferings which met the demands of the throne of God against sin were those experienced by our Lord Jesus under the stroke of God. And yet, we cannot but worship when we think that at the same time, He willingly endured the worst that we as humanity could inflict upon Him. The wonder is that when we were doing our worst against Him, He was doing His best for us. When we expressed hatred at its fiercest, He was displaying love at its finest.
There was both physical abuse and emotional abuse heaped upon the Lord Jesus. Physical abuse cannot be minimized: He endured the lash, the thorns, the beatings, and buffeting. Psalm 69 reminds us, as well, of the verbal and emotional abuse He sustained. “Reproach, shame, and dishonor” were His portion.
The first mentions of “reproach” in both the O T and the N T give us insight into the meaning of the word. In both instances (Gen 30:23; Luke 1:25), they are linked with women who were barren, childless, in a society where a barren womb was viewed as judgment from God for secret sin. It labeled the woman as a failure and a second class wife and Israelite.
Six times in the compass of only 21 verses, we read of His reproach in this Psalm. Men looked upon Christ and His sufferings and surmised that He was suffering for sins that He had kept secret. Here they gloated, God was finally vindicating them and condemning Him. With self-righteous glee, they mocked and derided the suffering victim of Golgotha. Assured by the fact that heaven did not respond to His sufferings, confident in their judgment, their arrogance and proud deriding only swelled to a flood as the hours at Calvary dragged on. If He were truly the Son of God as He boasted, why didn’t God intervene? If He truly trusted in God as He claimed, why didn’t God save him? The silence of heaven and the restraint of God’s delivering hand reassured them that Christ was indeed guilty of sin.
If you have ever been accused of wrong doing when you were innocent, if you have ever had to face people who thought you guilty of a misdeed for which you were not, you will begin to understand the feelings of hurt and anguish which accompany false accusations. Now intensify those feelings and multiply them by the factor of absolute holiness. Add to this the ability, at any moment, to rectify the wrong thinking and remove the accusations, but that you willingly choose not do so. Add all this together and we begin to arrive at the fringe of the grief that Christ must have felt as the wicked taunts of men surrounded Him at Calvary, and as the charges of sin and blasphemy were hurled in His face. Puny sinful man accusing the holy Son of God of being a sinner!
Holiness did not lessen His suffering from their words; it only magnified it. The verbal abuse from men, while not efficacious to our salvation, was evidence of His moral beauty and mercy.