Not A Helpless Vicitm

Text: Matthew 17:1-9

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

There is no doubt about it; we are currently living in a victimhood culture.  As a result, many people in our culture resort to whining and complaining while blaming other people for anything bad in their lives.  Let’s call these people fake victims.  These fake victims focus a lot on personal problems and want others to acknowledge their struggles.  Oftentimes, these fake victims can become competitive, trying to be more oppressed than others around them.  

Social media doesn’t help, either.  Social media often plays a big role by allowing fake victims to share their so-called stories of injustice and victimhood, which leads to a ton of outrage. Indeed, social media amplifies this dynamic with public narratives centered around inequality, discrimination, prejudice, and unfairness, which triggers a cycle of outrage and virtue signaling.  And so, the goal of a fake victim playing the victimhood game is often to gain sympathy, understanding, or even attention so that other people will recognize their difficulties and offer support.  

Tragically, these fake victims never take responsibility for themselves, portray themselves as victims for attention, exaggerate their hardships for personal gain, and manipulate others emotionally.

And we Christians?  Well, we often fall prey to fake victims.  That is to say, the church’s compassionate nature can often be exploited, leading the church to offer support and resources to a so-called victim without realizing that the church is being deceived by evil victimhood tactics.    

Dear friends, it is important to keep in mind, though, that there is a difference between fake victims and real victims.  The Holy Scriptures never approve of the oppression of real victims.  That is to say, there are certainly people in the world who have been unjustly beaten, raped, and mugged, to name a few situations.  Furthermore, the Scriptures do acknowledge that there will be suffering in this world, as many will suffer unjustly at the hands of evildoers. However, at the same time, we must never forget that at the very core of every single person’s thoughts, words, and deeds, there is no such thing as a theological victim before God almighty.  You see, the Apostle Paul, as well as Jesus, do not leave a single person out of the category of ‘sinner.’  And guess what?  Scripture does not allow us to blame our sin on Adam and Eve or the devil but lays the blame for sin right at our feet.  And so, theologically – vertically - before God almighty, every single person in this world is responsible for sin.  You and I cannot play the victim card vertically before God but must confess that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed by our own fault, by our own most grievous fault. 

Now, if anyone had a right to adopt a ‘victim mentality’ – to blame other people for his suffering and injustice, it would have been Jesus.  In fact, many have thrust Jesus into a victimhood status.  And so, Jesus has been categorized by some people as a victim of racism, a victim of political oppression, a victim of religious persecution, a victim of economic class warfare, and even, as a recent book has asserted, a victim of sexual abuse.  

Perhaps you and I have seen Jesus as a victim as well.  Maybe not a victim of racial, political, religious, economic, or sexual abuse, but nonetheless, a victim.  That is to say, if we look at Jesus’ suffering and death at the hands of the Jewish Leaders and Roman Empire and say, “Poor little helpless Jesus - all alone and suffering with the big whips and bad cross,” we are no better off than those who have painted Jesus as a victim of racial, political, religious, economic, and sexual oppression.  The reason why is because of what we hear in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew.  

In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear about the day when Jesus was transfigured like the sun.  In other words, that day on that mountain with Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ face flashed as the sun flashes.  His clothing became white as a flashing light. He was transfused visibly with divinity before Peter, James, and John.  

Now, the reason why we must draw attention to this is because Jesus did reach for divine glory on that mountain.  In other words, Jesus did not go on this mountain and then somehow exert spiritual powers to elevate his humanity to a divine status.  No – that is not what happened.  The Mount of Transfiguration was not Jesus ‘powering up.’  Instead, what happened on that mountain that day is that Jesus gave a glimpse of His divine majesty that He already had by virtue of who He already was.   

Baptized Saints, when we read the scripture and hear about Jesus walking, talking, teaching, eating, sleeping, suffering, and dying, He did this by voluntarily laying down His divine majesty.  Listen carefully; Jesus did not always use His divine majesty; He abstained from the constant use of His divinity so that He could assume the form of a servant.  Jesus laid down His divine majesty to appear in the likeness of you and me.  If Jesus had always and fully used His Mount-Transfiguration-divine-majesty, then Jesus could not have become the atoning sacrifice for your sin – He could not become your sin-substitute.  The work of Jesus to remedy the problem of sin could only happen if Jesus laid down His transfigured glory and instead descended off that mountain into the harsh human condition of sin and death on the cross.     

And so, when Jesus went to that bloody cross of Mount Calvary – when He went into the dark valley of the shadow of death - He did not do it as a helpless victim.  He was not helplessly arrested, tried, convicted, beaten, and crucified as if He did not have any power over these circumstances.  Listen up; there is no such thing as a 

‘Poor little Jesus on the cross suffering helplessly because of some big bad oppressor.’  

Never forget that Jesus was fully capable of calling to His Father to send over twelve legions of fighting and battle-ready angels – that is, 72,000 angels.  But He did not do this.  And so, to be perfectly clear, Jesus did not go to Dark Calvary as a helpless victim under the power of a big bad, oppressive Roman Empire.  Again, there is no such thing as poor victim Jesus on a bloody cross.  There is no such thing as underprivileged Jesus helplessly condemned by the Religious Rulers.  Instead, Jesus intentionally and deliberately humbled Himself to the point of death - on a cross - to willfully and lovingly atone for every single sinner of the world.  

Baptized Saints, Jesus Christ is almighty God, yet He became weak – for you.  He was the Creator and Lord of all things, yet He subjected Himself to your sin and your death.  He is the Prince of Life, and yet He allowed Himself to be captured and slain by mankind for your salvation.  

And so, theologically - before God almighty - there is no such thing as a Christian victim.  Yes, you may very well be a victim in this life to oppressors bigger than you.  You may even suffer from them; however, you are never truly a victim, for Christ has not given you and me what we deserve or given you and me a spirit of fear or slavery.  

Jesus did not become a victim but suffered as a servant and endured faithfully so that He could be a true Redeemer for you, me, and all of mankind.  And because Jesus is our true Redeemer, we see this world with different eyes.  We do not look at the world around us through the lens of victimhood.  We do not need to blame every single person around us, keep score, and resort to broadcasting our laments on social media.  And we do not need to suffer alone.  Instead, you and I are sinners living among other sinners, and as sinners, our hope, assurance, and justice are found in the majestic-divine-Christ who humbled Himself to the point of death to make full satisfaction for you, me and our neighbor.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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