taking the words of Jesus seriously


Jesus was brutally tortured so that others–including our enemies–wouldn’t have to be.


When we look at the crucifixion story, we see Jesus being unjustly accused because of the influence of political, religious, and social schemes–through the workings of a powerful Roman Empire.


The recent Torture Report should be a wakeup call to American Christians about what happens when the love of Christ is replaced by the fear, hate, power, and influence of a sinful world.


The first few books of the New Testament reveal its own “Torture Report (about the crucifixion of Jesus).” Let’s take a look at some of the parallels:


(John 19:1-3 NIV) Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.


Torture Report: “KSM was subjected to facial and abdominal slaps, the facial grab, stress positions, standing sleep deprivation (with his hands at or above head level), nudity, and water dousing.”


(John 19:6) As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”


TR: “The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box.”


(John 19:12) From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”


TR: “Several on the (CIA) team profoundly affected…some to the point of tears and choking up.”


(John 19:17) Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).


TR: “detainees at COBALT were subjected to what was described as a “rough takedown, ” in which approximately five CIA officers would scream at a detainee, drag him outside of his cell, cut his clothes off, and secure him with Mylar tape. The detainee would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched.”


(Matthew 27:39) Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads…. In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.


TR: “CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families–to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to “cut {a detainee’s} mother’s throat.”


(Luke 23:36) The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”


TR: …a cloth covered Abu Hazim’s face, and {CIA OFFICER} poured cold water directly on Abu Hazim’s face to disrupt his breathing. [The linguist] says that when Abu Hazim turned blue, Physician’s Assistant removed the cloth so the Abu Hazim could breathe.”


(John 19:28b-29) Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.


TR: “The medical officer later wrote to ——- OMS that KSM was “ingesting and aspiration [sic] a LOT of water, ” and that [i]n the new technique we are basically doing a series of near drownings.”


(John 19:32-33) The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead.


TR: “…two detainees had a broken foot, one detainee had a sprained ankle, and one detainee had a prosthetic log. CIA interrogators shackled each of these detainees in the standing position for sleep deprivation for extended periods of time until medical personnel assessed that they could not maintain the position. The two detainees that each had a broken foot were also subjected to walling, stress positions, and cramped confinement.”


(John 19:23-24) When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it, ” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”


TR:…KSM was subjected to nudity and sleep deprivation. On March 5, 2003, KSM was also subjected to additional rectal rehydration… a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor died from suspected hypothermia at the facility.”


(John 19:18) There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.


The point of these comparisons is not to pretend that these victims were Divine Jesus-figures who were morally pure, but rather to show that God can relate to them–dare I suggest even loves them.


God commands us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, ” (Matt. 5:44).


The Torture Report shows that we failed as a collective national community to reflect the glory of God–we’ve sinned.


It’s easy to view our enemies as inhuman, evil, and deserving of our wrath–but if we seriously take God’s words to heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit we can also see how they’re made in His image.


When this Divine paradigm shift happens, we’ll no longer desire to be bloodthirsty and violent revenge-seekers, but peacemakers who strive to bring about justice, restoration, healing, redemption, and the love of God.


God help us.


About The Author


Stephen Mattson is the author of "The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ." Follow him on Twitter (@StephenMattson_) and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.mattson

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