Summary: I don`t advise you to try doing what I did - only if God is prompting you!

HIT ME INSTEAD. One evening the phone rang. It was a woman whom I had visited from time to time. She wasn`t a Christian; in fact she was very dubious about the whole business of Christianity - she couldn`t see what relevance someone who lived 2,000 years ago could possibly have to her today. I`d tried to tell her but got nowhere.

But here she was at the end of a `phone, and she had a problem. "My husband`s just come home and he`s threatening to HIT me" she said, "Can you help me".

Now I knew her husband - a big man with red hair and a big temper - if he said he was going to HIT her then it was ten to one that he would, and it certainly wouldn`t be a love pat!.

Well, what would you have done in the circumstances. I was tempted to give her a few words of comfort, and put the phone down - run away from the whole situation - but I didn`t. "I`ll come as soon as I can" I said - and uttering a lot of short prayers like "Get me out of this, Lord", I got in the car and drove round to see her.

When I got there I was confronted by an angry man - he looked at my dog collar and growled, "What do YOU want". "Your wife rang me and said you were threatening to HIT her" I said. "So I am", he said, "And what are YOU going to do about it".

I gulped - and prayed - and then I spoke - "Hit ME instead" I said.

He came towards me with fire in his eyes, his fists bunched - I was scared stiff and wanted to run, and he could see it, but I looked him in the eye and prayed, and stood there.

He came up to me,looked at me again, and then turned away. "I won`t do it" he said - The woman was expecting me to be obliterated - but he didn`t do it to me, and he didn`t do it to HER - not then, or later.

Now, let`s get it straight. It wasn`t ME who said to that angry man, "HIT ME INSTEAD" - I really didn`t have it in me. I had been working out in my mind as I travelled the short distance to her house, what I could say to that poor woman`s husband - but I knew it was going to be all pious platitudes, and that it wouldn`t touch him.

In the end I`d come to an end of myself and had nothing to say, so that when I DID speak it wasn`t ME speaking, it was the Spirit of Jesus. It was the Spirit of Jesus who had promised to be always with me, and who had said to frightened, cowardly, men and women just like me, HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WHEN MEN PERSECUTE YOU FOR MY SAKE".

And it was Jesus, not ME, who was saying to that angry man, "HIT ME INSTEAD", just as it was Jesus who said, "Do not worry beforehand about what you are going to say; when the time comes say whatever is then given to you. For the words you speak will not be yours; they will come from the Holy Spirit". It was TRUE.

That day that young woman SAW FOR THE FIRST TIME just what Christ had to do with her everyday life, how relevant He was to her today. She SAW for the first time what the Christian faith is all about, Jesus facing mankind`s anger, then and now - facing the way men and women hurt each other, and destroy each other, driven by a force within them they can`t control - and He says to them, "HIT ME INSTEAD".

I thank God that I didn`t have to experience the consequences of those words I spoke "HIT ME INSTEAD" - but Jesus did. On Palm Sunday, He could have sat back and enjoyed the crowd`s adulation, but instead He went into the Temple and threw out the money-changers who were hitting the pockets of THE POOR, robbing them blind, and, when He said to the religious leaders who were making a mint of money out of it, "HIT ME INSTEAD", they DID!

Then Jesus warned His Disciples that the same vicious destructive anger that was about to be heaped on Him would keep on bursting out as the centuries passed, and that they would stand in His place, threatened, arrested, taken to court, beaten in the synagogues. They would stand as His representatives, proclaiming the Good News that the sting of anger and destructiveness and death can be drawn through Him.

So, He says, "Because it is bound to come, do not worry beforehand what you are to say - when the time comes, say whatever is then given to you, for the words you speak will not be your words; they will come from the Holy Spirit..." and then He says "Whoever holds out to the end will be saved"......... WHICH IS TRUE, ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

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