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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sea Of Galilee (Photo by Chaucee Stillman)
Sea of Galilee

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"Then they spit in His face" (Matthew 26:67).

Today's topic may seem rather appalling to some of our readers. The act of spitting is not a pleasant subject for discussion and really does not require a definition which in itself would be distasteful. 

Brushing teeth

I suspect most of us first learned to spit when we were taught to brush our teeth. Our Mom (or perhaps Dad) probably taught us by demonstration. Spitting is a necessary function when it comes to personal hygiene and other health related needs.

I (Stephen) may spit (but never Brooksyne) when I am out on a walk in the country and away from others. I certainly consider spitting rude in front of others, particularly women. When I do spit I do so where people will not be walking, although as our society has gotten cruder, I see more and more spitting on the walkways.  It's a pretty gross sight to come upon or, even worse, to step in.

My family still has a vivid memory of me being thoroughly splattered by spit about fifteen years ago when we were on vacation in Vermont.  We went to a County Fair and I was studying the face of a llama. Suddenly, with the wind velocity of a surprise tornado, he spat right in my face; a big, splattering of thick, yellow yuck. 

Brooksyne and Ester just couldn't stop laughing as I immediately ran to a bathroom. I couldn't get it washed off fast enough and even now practically gag at the memory.  It was all over my T-shirt so I then darted to the car and pulled off the putrid shirt.  It was the closest I could get to ridding myself of the horrible experience before I could thoroughly shower at the motel where we were staying.  (Brooksyne's Note: Too bad I can't provide you with a great visual!)

That's the only time I ever recall being spat upon.  Brooksyne remembers riding the bus with a special needs student in Junior High School who endured horrible abuse by her schoolmates daily.  They would sit behind her and spit in her hair as they swore and called her filthy names.

This week we are considering the many forms of humiliation our Lord endured during His time of suffering, culminating with His death on the cross.  The Jews, common with all people of the East, had an intense abhorrence for spitting. Spitting was considered among the Jews as an expression of the greatest contempt (Deuteronomy 25:9, Numbers 12:14). Even to spit before another was regarded as an offense, and treated as such by heathen also.

Such a form of ridicule is hardly known by us, although I can't imagine any culture where being spit upon would be considered an honor.  This last year we learned that throwing one's shoes is an insult in some Middle Eastern countries. Perhaps a more contemporary example, admittedly distasteful, is the deep personal insult and major offense of someone thrusting their middle finger right into our face.  Hurtful actions can speak even louder than unkind words.  I wonder if, at times, our actions toward our Lord defy our words of adoration and praise.

Our daily text states, "Then they spit in His face."  In context "they" were the teachers of the law and elders who had assembled for a mock trial.  This vicious treatment of Christ is a clear fulfillment of a messianic prophecy written some 700 years before our Lord's suffering found in Isaiah 50:6: "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting."

The Greek word
translated "spit", is ptuo. The word, ptuo, is an onomatopoeia*, which is when the formation of a word imitates the natural sound associated with the object or action involved such as "cuckoo" or "boom".  Say "p-tuo" aloud and you should be able to hear the sound made when spitting. 

Can you picture these scorning mockers spitting in the face of their Creator, the Redeemer of the world?  Matthew carefully records the detail that they spit in His face (not just in His presence or at His feet).

Today, again let us "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men" and let us with renewed resolve stay faithful to the One who suffered for us, "so that we will not grow weary and lose heart." 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, Your act of humility in the midst of ridicule, mockery and abhorrent behavior by the very people that You created and willingly died for is not a picture of weakness, but instead it is one of incomparable self-sacrifice.  You could have called a legion of angels to reveal Your power or to put Your accusers in their rightful place.  But You chose to walk the road of humility and obedience all the way to Calvary, motivated by Your redemptive love for mankind.  Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.

* Interestingly the word
onomatopoeia, is itself from the Greek word ονοματοποιΐα, from onomat-, onoma name + poiein to make

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

This week we will share links to songs dealing with the Cross and Christ's redemtive work and add to them through the week with the most recent at the top and leaving the links to the earlier ones.

"He Chose The Cross"  Video  A song I am not familiar with that has a great message.

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video  Brooksyne's Note: I was cleaning up after breakfast this morning when this song came on the radio.  It's message is so powerful I had to stop my work and contemplate the words and at times sing along with the musicians.  His grace does amaze me, but then that's what God's grace does!

"It's Still The Cross"
 Audio  Video  See here for lyrics. (This is the song referred to in Monday's message.)

"The Wonderful Cross"  Video  We sang this song in our church service on Sunday.

Today's photo was sent to me by Mike Stillman, a friend who was recently on a tour in Israel with his daughter Chaucee.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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