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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Three crosses in flower bed
Brooksyne took this photo as she drove by a church here in Lancaster County.

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"Blasphemous Mockery"

"Then they spit in his face and struck Him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, 'Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?'" (Matthew 26:67,68).

About twenty years ago I was counseling a large 6 foot 6 inch mentally disturbed man when something set him off and he suddenly flew around my desk and started pummeling me with his fists, knocking my glasses to the floor. Brooksyne, working in the next room, heard the disturbance and came to my rescue when she walked in and screamed out his name, causing him to snap out of his fury. Most pastoral beatings are emotional and spiritual rather than physical, and, in reality, they can hurt just as much.

This week we are considering the various forms of pain and shame our Lord endured from Gethsemane to His final cry on the cross. Yesterday we studied the first part of today's text, "Then they spit in his face."  The verse continues, "and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?"

As I examine the text I see another element of disgrace apart from the physical spitting, beating and slapping. They mocked and taunted Him, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" A line from the song "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" which many of us sing in our worship comes to mind. It states, "Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers."

In teaching on the third commandment which states "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" I point out a simple standard for the proper use of God's Name. Simply put, in using His hallowed name, we are to either speak worshipfully to Him or respectfully about Him. Any other use in my view is a violation of this Commandment.

Yet observe that the mockers essentially used His name in vain. In their sneering jeer, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" they surely weren’t addressing Him worshipfully but rather blasphemously. Contrast this to Peter's great confession of faith, which forms the declarative foundation of the Church, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Of course the entire ordeal brought excruciating pain; emotionally, physically and most especially spiritually. Today's text specifically states that they struck Him with their fists and slapped Him.

A careful study of the events in the life of Christ, from the Garden of Gethsemane to His final breath on the cross, reveals a sequence of beatings endured in various dreaded forms. Each assault would have been indescribably painful and terribly degrading.

But I also consider the additional aspect of pain in the sequence of the ruthless beatings Jesus endured. It's very painful to have a raw wound but to have that open site beaten again is doubly painful. Every nerve cries out in throbbing pain, "Enough!" yet Christ went through it again and again bearing the guilt of our sins as He walked the road to Calvary where He would give His life for you and for me.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Lord Jesus, I contemplate the infinite grace and self restraint You displayed as You were repeatedly assaulted by those who crucified You.  As they hurled insults You prayed for them.  As they ripped human flesh Your blood flowed for their sin.  As they blasphemed Your name, You brought their name before the Father.  With each pounding of the nail Your heart pounded with irrepressible love for all who mocked You.  You took our sins and made them Your very own as You bore our burdens on Calvary.  How marvelous and incomprehensible is Your selfless love for me!

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 will add to them through the week with the most recent at the top.

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"  Audio  Video

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video 

"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.

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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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