In the Isaiah passage that I have added at the end of this meditation, I have printed the words, "By a perversion of justice" in bold. This is post is more "religious" than most of my posts are, but today is Good Friday and, thus, I can hardly refrain from doing so at the highest point of the Christian church calendar: Holy Week, culminating in Good Friday and Easter.
"By a perversion of justice" is an unusual translation of the first part of Isaiah 53:8. The translations we are most familiar with have "By oppression and judgment," while I found another used "By oppressive judgment." I checked many other translations in various languages, but none speak as clearly and profoundly to me as "By a perversion of justice."
All of us are familiar with perversions of justice; they take place every day. Those who are concerned with social justice see them on a daily basis. Yesterday, in Toronto, a narcisistic, misogynistic radio interviewer who was charged with sexual assault, was acquited after a six week trial. Many Canadians, myself included, were outraged by the verdict.
Yet this verdict pales in comparison with the injustices that people all over the world experience whether individually or as communities. Think of the Holocaust or other genocidal crimes where justice was never done properly, if at all.
Such suffering is common to many people. Russians, for example, pride themselves on their sufering. But not all suffering is the same. Even if it is not the result of personal mistakes, and thus truly due to an injustice that is inflicted by others, rarely is suffering redemptive in nature.
That is what struck me during the reading of the Isaiah passage which describes the Suffering Servant, whom the Christian Church has traditionally associated with Jesus Christ who died on a cross almost two thousand years ago.
Isaiah was a Jewish prophet who lived seven centuries before Christ and is presumed to be the author of the biblical book by the same name. Whether he was or not, is not the issue now. Nor do I want to pause and discuss the Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53, although there is a general agreement that this passage refers to the Messiah. For Jews, however, Christ was not the Messiah.
For Christians, those who proudly bear the name of Christ, he is the Messiah. He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. He is the one who died on a cross as the result of a perversion of justice. He was convicted of crimes he never committed. In this respect, he is one of many people who have suffered unjustly for crimes they never committed. Many people have died through a perversion of justice.
In Christ's case, his death was redemptive. He died in order to save the world. Even those who never acknowlege his saving work are still affected by it, whether they realize this or not. The whole world is being restored as a result of what he did just outside Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago.
The "perversion of justice" that Christ experienced does mean that anyone is being blamed. for it. Both the Roman authorities and the Jewish leaders played a role in this drama which God planned in rder to save the world through Christ's sacrifice on the cross.