Updated: Jan 31, 2020
His shallow breathing could be heard as He gasped. Hanging on the cross was Jesus. The sky was black and the earth began to shake. Rocks were split, tombs were opened and people cried out in fear. As God in flesh gave up His life and died, the veil in the temple ripped in two.
The veil had hung in the temple, representing the law, and it separated the people from the presence of God. Only one man - the high priest - could go behind the veil once a year on behalf of the people. Mankind couldn't keep God's laws and that prevented everyone from experiencing grace and hope because the law condemns, the law tells us that we are simply not good enough. The veil was put in place to remind us that we did not have access into where God dwells . But when the veil was torn from the top to the bottom, all of that changed.
There are millions of people, millions of women, who are abused every day. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse is so prevalent in our world and in our country that it's not even shocking anymore. Why we overlook the catastrophic effects abuse has on people, I do not know, but it needs to change because every kind of abuse has the power to destroy a life. Mental and emotional abuse like yelling and angry outbursts make a person believe that they are a burden and the problem and causes them to feel easily frightened and guilty. Patronizing, belittling, name calling and trivializing shatters all feelings of security and conditions a person to think that they are unimportant and unsafe. Physical abuse like hitting, shoving, kicking or spitting produces extreme fear and depression and can sometimes force a person to create an alternate reality in their mind because their own reality is too painful. Sexual abuse like molestation, rape, force and violation causes nightmares, withdrawal and a feeling of worthlessness that makes suicide look attractive. Abuse is real and it is serious.
What does Calvary mean to an abused person? Bringing the good news that we have a heavenly Father is met with a blank stare from someone who's earthly father inflicts pain. The beauty of forgiveness is lost on someone who's slightest failures were magnified and never truly absolved. The gospel of love is nothing more than words to the abused because they live by a different dictionary. To them, love means pain and cruelty. To them, distance means safety and closeness means torment. If Calvary is going to mean anything to the wounded and the scarred, we need to put it into words that they can grasp with both hands and believe with all their heart.
This is what makes Calvary that much more beautiful.
Every slap, every hateful and hurtful word, every scowl and every cruel and evil act was piled upon the Son of God; the One who left heaven to be the Rescuer. And when the veil ripped in two, all that separated us from hope and peace was done away with. We now have access to the very God of Heaven who has the power to make the wounded whole and the fearful free. We don't have to tiptoe into His presence, we can walk right up to His throne and crawl into His lap with the full assurance that we are loved; we are heard; we are protected; we are cherished.
You may have been pushed away by your husband but Christ will pull you close. You may have been abandoned by your father, but Jesus has never and will never leave you. You may have been violated, you may have been damaged, you may have been told all your life that you're not smart enough, not pretty enough or not good enough, but the God Man who hung on a tree calls you His beloved and His nail scarred hands are there to wipe your tears and take all your pain away. Calvary's cross bridged the gap for sinners to have a Savior but it also shattered every single thing that threatens to separate us from the astounding kindness of God.
Calvary paid the atonement for sin and that is more than enough. But like a cup that overflows, God did more that day on Golgotha. Our rejection was replaced with acceptance when His arms were stretched out. Our fear of being unloved and mistreated vanished with every blow of the hammer. He died so we could live, yes. But He also died so that we could experience His loving embrace forever. No more walking on eggshells. No more trying to earn favor. No more cold shoulders, no more demeaning and no more neglect. Calvary means freedom to the ones held captive by abusers and Calvary means love and safety to the injured and vulnerable.
Thanks to the cross and the God who hung on it for us, we don't have to fear His presence or His touch. Thanks to Calvary, the veil has been torn and we don't have to stand at a distance anymore.
If you are being abused, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).