Christ in the Crucible
Kin punishment is often a cruel form of manipulative coercion designed to act as a deterrent to crimes against the state. Sometimes it is merely understood that members of a family or tribe take responsibility for the actions of their clan.
As barbaric as it is, kin punishment has been a common tool of many authoritarian states to coerce their citizens into obedience—if someone steps out of line, their parents or siblings could suffer the consequences. Though that intimidation is still practiced by some governments today, it’s often tempered by the scrutiny of the world community. The prevalence of cell phone cameras and instant access to social media can be powerful tools to shine a light on this form of injustice.
Traditionally, kin punishment was a natural consequence of the understanding that family members bore collective responsibility for each other’s crimes. In ancient Arabian society, for instance, the family of a murder victim could kill either the murderer or a member of the murderer’s family without fear of retribution. The innocent family member who suffered the consequences was just the unlucky recipient of the punishment.
Unfortunately, each of us is deserving of fatal punishment. And we can’t pay the consequences of our sins and remain alive. No prison sentence or purgatory can satisfy the penalty. The ultimate crucible doesn’t simply help us grow through suffering; the definitive crucible is death. The sentence is always death.
However, Jesus, our innocent kinsman, willingly stepped into our place to receive our penalty and suffer the consequences for our sins.
Though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. In our case, kin punishment is our only hope of eternity.
Connecting: Were you ever, as an innocent child, punished for an offense committed by a sibling or a friend? How did that make you feel towards the actual perpetrator of the crime?
Sharing: What does it mean to you when 1 Peter 2:24 says that Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree”?
- Jesus is an innocent victim of kin punishment
- Jesus willingly took the punishment for our sins
- Jesus was nailed to a tree, not a cross
- This emphasizes the bodily, physical suffering that Jesus endured for us
- This proves the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement
Applying: Who are you willing to suffer for? Would you take the punishment for someone else? How do you evaluate who among your friends or family is worthy to suffer for?