Judges 19 tells a horrifying story. I wasn't familiar with it until a year or so ago. After reading about the trauma the woman in the story experienced, I wept for several days. Judges 19 came up as part of my daily Bible reading again several months ago, and the story's effect was not diminished.
The story's content was so shocking I looked away from the page and closed my eyes. My heart pounded rapidly as I breathed in deeply to calm myself down. After several starts and stops, I finally refocused and finished reading. (I will leave it for you to look up and read on your own.)
I have spent a lot of time contemplating this story, yet I still haven't learned its purpose. Though I don't recognize the story's purpose yet, I do have a take away from my reading experience.
Life can be horrific. There are some life stories that cause us to avert our gaze, close our eyes, and breathe deeply. We don't like to see them, hear them, nor speak them because they offend us. They are unmentionables. Interestingly, however, Jesus never averted His gaze from unmentionables. In fact, he fellowshipped publicly with people who had shameful stories.
He also healed and forgave publicly. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the story of a man with a withered hand. The Gospel of John records the story of a woman caught in an adultrous affair. Both of these people were shoved in front of Jesus and were shamed. But Jesus did not look away. Instead, without embarrasment, He healed the man and forgave the woman.
Luke 4:18 records Jesus saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed," (NKJV).
We all have unmentionables we hide from others. Some are shameful and even horrific. But Jesus does not look away. Rather, He looks, listens, and speaks to us. He reaches out and gently offers hope and healing rather than shame and condemnation.
I think Jesus wants us to be like Him. I think He wants us to follow His example. I think He wants us to look, listen, speak, and offer hope and healing.