Can you identify with this young man? Held against his will, he was taunted, beaten by a bunch of thugs who should have been his friends. They blindfolded him, shouted insults, posted horrible things about him…all untrue.

They mocked what he wore.

They mocked him as he hung dying.

Luke 23:23 says the bullies’ “voices won out.” Their taunting turned to a crowd frenzy that ratcheted up from bullying to cries for Jesus to be put to death.

You and I know those events as part of the crucifixion story. But if you’re like me, you’ve focused on what Jesus suffered on the cross and may have missed the “bullying” aspect of what happened prior to the cross.

Comfort for us is tucked between His moans. He’s intimately acquainted with our physical distresses because of what He bore. And He’s intimately acquainted with the emotional toll of being bullied and misunderstood.

Seventh grader pursued by your own classmates, He gets it.

Employee crushed under the pelting hail of unkind words from your employer, Jesus understands.

Author reading needlessly tactless or intentionally mean reviews, that sickening feeling in your stomach isn’t unfamiliar to Jesus.

Little girl on the playground pushed around by a taller girl with more muscles, you’re not alone.

Of all the people who didn’t deserve it, Jesus–the Son of God–seemed the least likely victim. But He was taunted and mocked and bullied at a level few of us can fully imagine. It threatened to take His life. it didn’t. The Bible tells us He laid down His life for us.

Abandoned by the very people who might have protected Him, Jesus bore it alone.

We know very little about what became of the bullies. We have to assume some of them regretted what they’d done, once they heard the truth. I wonder if they were among the people to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection. The gentleness with which He walked after the resurrection leads us to believe that if He did appear to them, it was with a forgiveness they didn’t even know to request.

Bullied by an insurance company, a neighbor, a coworker, a dissatisfied reader, a family member? Take heart. Jesus understands even that.

And look how He turned out.

QUESTION FOR YOU: If you’ve ever been bullied, how did you hang onto hope until it stopped? Is there something specific you were led to do that helped defuse the bully’s hostility?

Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction. Several dozen of her devotions are included in Guidepost’s Mornings With Jesus 2014, available now. Also currently available are her novel When the Morning Glory Blooms and her nonfiction Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices, both from Abingdon Press, as well as other books listed on her website. www.cynthiaruchti.com