Jesus’ Ill Treatment

By Grantley Morris

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Jesus: A Life of Suffering & Hardship

Everyone familiar with the Christmas story knows how, even when still in the womb, his father almost rejected Jesus (Matthew 1:18-19). Then the most precious and only truly innocent human was treated as such an unwanted inconvenience that, after many rejections, he had to be born in grossly unhygienic conditions surrounded by the stench of manure in an animal hovel not fit for human habitation. His parents were forced to flee even from that and become refugees in a foreign country. It was not that his parents were in any danger but because, even as baby, people wanted Jesus killed.

The stir Jesus caused when he was twelve (Luke 2:42-50) was not a one-off, but typical of how misunderstood he was, even by his own family and his closest friends for the rest of his time on earth:

    Luke 9:57-58 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

    John 7:5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Even John the Baptist sent him a message saying, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2-3).

Whether they were drawn to him or despised him, to everyone around him, Jesus was an oddball. Even among his closest friends, he never fitted in. Much of the time he might as well have been an alien from another world. Even without his deliberately obscure parables (Matthew 13:10-15), his dearest friends found him as unintelligible as a foreigner who knows only a few words of their language. The times when Jesus’ trusted disciples misunderstood him are too numerous to list exhaustively, but as I provide a few reminders, try to imagine the accumulative emotional cost this must have had on Jesus. He’s warning them about the Pharisees, and they think he’s telling them off for forgetting food. He’s saying Lazarus is dead and they think he’s indicating Lazarus’s health is improving. He’s telling them that serving God is more fulfilling than eating and they think he must have found food. He insists people must eat his flesh and drink his blood and most of his followers leave him in disgust and the few who remain are left reeling in bewilderment. He’s wanting to welcome mothers and babies and they think he finds them annoying. They are protesting their loyalty while he’s telling them they will all desert him. For Scriptures for this paragraph, see Jesus Misunderstood.

Without even considering all those who rejected and despised him, Jesus must often have felt disconnected from everyone around him. It must have been like a knife twisting in his stomach, causing him to feel painfully alone even in a crowd.

Not just in his early childhood and toward the end of his life on earth, but from almost the very inception of his ministry, people wanted to kill him (John 8:37,40,59). This applied not only to strangers in Jerusalem but even to the most devout people in his home town. Before he had a chance to become still more unpopular, those he had grown up with not only drove him out of town but tried to push him off a cliff so they could send him hurtling to his death (Luke 4:16-29).

Not only was Jesus continually criticized by strangers, enemies, and those closest to him, he was accused of breaking God’s holy law (the Sabbath, for instance) and even repeatedly (Matthew 9:34; 10:25; 12:24; Mark 3:21-22,30; Luke 11:15; John 7:20; 8:48,52; John 10:20) accused of being demon-possessed.

He did not just suffer racial discrimination – such as when an entire Samaritan village kicked him out of their village merely because he was on his way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:52-56) – but he was treated as inferior even by his fellow countrymen because he grew up in a low class area (John 1:46; 7:41,52).

He was tormented by the worst temptations. We are acquainted with what he endured at the point of starvation and later when his sweat was like blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and he told his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). These, however, were just examples:

    Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [not forever but] until an opportune time.

    Hebrews 2:17-18 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way . . . he himself suffered when he was tempted . . .

    Hebrews 4:15  . . . we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are . . .
    (Emphasis mine.)

Have you noticed the first few words in the following?

    Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.

Who, according to this Scripture, took the holy Son of God to the top of the temple? It wasn’t Jesus’ doing, nor was it God’s. And consider this:

    Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

Everyone knows there is no mountain in the world from which one’s natural eyes can see “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” The devil not only somehow managed to get Jesus’ body where he wanted it to be, he thrust a vision into Christ’s very mind. This is akin to spiritual rape.

Long before his crucifixion, the holy Son of God suffered highly invasive attacks from the Evil One. He was victorious in the sense that he remained sinless and did not cave in to the attack but not in the sense that he was never attacked. In fact, during this time, and probably others Scripture did not bother to spell out, he suffered spiritual violation.

    Hebrews 5:2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

We know of several instances when Jesus cried but, like everything else in the brief summaries that form the Gospels, countless other instances must have been left unmentioned. For example, the following is not spelled out in the Gospels (Note):

    Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears . . .
    (Emphasis mine.)




Jesus: A Life of Suffering & Hardship