South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day on the day of the Sharpeville massacre (21st March) as a reminder of where we have come from, and, we hope, where we still need to get to.

In 2008, Human Rights Day and Good Friday coincided. I put together a Good Friday service that combined the International Charter on Human Rights and the passion of Jesus Christ, demonstrating how, in His quest to bring humankind back to God, he abrogated his own Human Rights. There is a message for his followers in this.

Jesus gives up his Human Rights – Slides to be shown during the readings below

Reader 1 (International Charter on Human Rights)

Reader 2 (Scriptural references to Jesus’ work)

Reader 3 (The passion narrative)

Article 9: Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms Philippians 2:6-8 The divine nature was his from the first – yet he did not think to snatch equality with God, but made himself nothing, assuming the nature of a slave.
Article 26 0 Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing Luke 9: 58 Foxes have their holes and birds their nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.
Article 12 1 a Everyone has the right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause Luke 9:44 What I now say is for you: ponder my words. The Son of Man is to be given up into the power of men. Turning to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the leaders who had come to seize him, he said, ‘Do you take me for a bandit that you have come out with swords and cudgels to arrest me? Day after day, when I was in the temple with you, you kept your hands off me. But this is your moment – the hour when darkness reigns’. Then they arrested him and led him away.
Article 35.2 a-c Every accused person has a right to a fair trial, which includes the right to have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence, to a public trial before an ordinary court. Isaiah 53 8a Without protection, without justice he was taken away. They led him to the High Priest’s house. The chief priests and the whole council tried to find some evidence against Jesus to warrant a death-sentence, but failed to find any. …..
Article 35.2  h Every accused person has a right ….. to adduce and challenge evidence Isaiah 53 7a He was afflicted, he submitted to be struck down and did not open his mouth. Then the High Priest stood up in his place and questioned Jesus: ‘Have you no answer to the charges that these witnesses bring against you?’ But Jesus kept silent; he made no reply.
Article 35 2 g Every accuse person has a right to fair trial which includes the right to ….. remain silent and not to testify during proceedings. Again the High Priest questioned him; ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of God of the Blessed one?’ Jesus said’ ‘I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the fight hand of God and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Then the High Priest tore his robes and said, ‘Need we call further witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your opinion?’
Article 12 1 d Everyone has the right not to be tortured in any way Isaiah 53: 4-5 Yet on himself he bore our sufferings, our torments he endured, while we counted him smitten by God, struck down by disease and misery; but he was pierced for our transgressions, tortured for our iniquities; the beating he bore is health for us, and by his stripes we are healed They beat him, they blindfolded him and they kept asking him, ‘Now, prophet, who hit you? Tell us that’. And so they kept heaping insults upon him.
Article 33 0 Everyone has the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. Pilate now called together the chief priests, councillors, and people, and said to them, ‘You have brought this man before me on a charge of subversion. But, as you see, I have myself examined him in your presence and found nothing in him to support your charges. Herod did not either, for he has referred him back to us. Clearly he has done nothing to deserve death. I therefore propose to let him off with a flogging.’ But there was a general outcry. Pilate addressed them again, in his desire to release Jesus, but they shouted back, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’…..Their shouts prevailed and Pilate decided that they should have their way….. and gave Jesus up to their will.
Article 10 Everyone has …… the right to have their dignity respected and protected Luke 18: 32 The Son of Man will be handed over to a foreign power. He will be mocked, maltreated, and spat upon. Pilate’s soldiers then took Jesus into the Governor’s headquarters where they collected the whole company around him. They stripped him of all his clothes; they dressed him in a scarlet mantle and, plaiting a crown of thorns, they placed it on his head with a cane in his right hand. Falling on their knees before him they jeered at him: ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’ They spat at him….
Article 13 No-one may be subjected to….. forced labour Isaiah 53 7b He was led like a sheep to the slaughter Jesus was now taken in charge and, carrying his own cross, went out to the Place of the Skull or, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
Article 12 1 e Everyone has the right to freedom and security of person, which includes the right not to be ….. punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails on his hands…………..’ They crucified him there, and …. criminals with him, one on his right and the other on his left.
Article 14 c Everyone has the right to privacy which includes the right not to have their property seized They divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should have.
Article 11 Everyone has the right to life Ephesians 5:2 He gave himself up on your behalf as an offering and sacrifice…. Jesus again gave a loud cry and said ‘ Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’, and with those words, he breathed his last.
Article 12 2 b Everyone has the right….to security in and control over their body ….one of the soldiers stabbed his side with a lance, and at once there was flow of blood and water.
Luke 14: 26-7 Anyone who comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life cannot be a disciple of mine. No one who does not carry their cross and come with me can be a disciple of mine