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Tuesday, April 4, 2023
The restored Safe Harbor trestle along the Susquehanna River
Click on photo to enlarge
Message summary: This week we "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men". Today we consider the specific utter indignity of how our Lord was spat upon during His time of suffering.
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"Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:3). "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 topic for discussion but there is a proper place for it. I suspect most of us first learned to spit when we were taught to brush our teeth or when we were at the dentist having our teeth cleaned. Our moms probably taught us how to spit by demonstrating (or in the case of the photo a dad!) And it's likely that we observed it in others (typically men) who just did it out of habit.
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 spit 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 over twenty-five years ago when we were on vacation in Vermont. We went to a County Fair and I was studying the face of a Llama and, with the wind velocity of a 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 has a troubling remembrance of riding the school bus with a special needs student in Junior High School who endured abuse by her schoolmates daily. They would sit behind her and spit in her hair as they swore and called her filthy names. Bullying is nothing new.
The first daily text states, "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". Consider the many forms of humiliation our Lord endured during His time of suffering, culminating with His death on the cross.
Jesus knew what was coming. He had told His disciples beforehand, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him. And after three days He will rise” (Mark 10:33,34).
But today we consider the specific endurance required in the second daily text, "Then they spit in His face" (Matthew 26:67). The Jews, common with all people of the East, had an intense abhorrence for spitting. It 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 spat upon would be considered an honor. Perhaps a more contemporary example, admittedly distasteful, is the deep personal insult and major offense of someone thrusting their middle finger right into your 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.
"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, ptuo, translated "spit" is an onomatopoeia, which is the formation of a word that imitates the natural sound associated with the object or action involved such as "cuckoo" or "boom". Can you hear the sound of someone spitting when pronouncing "ptuo"?
Can you picture these scorning mockers spitting in the face of the Creator and 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 with firm resolve let us stay faithful to the One who suffered for us, "so that we will not grow weary and lose heart."
See Him there upon the hill
Hear the scorn and laughter
Silent as a lamb He waits
Praying to the father.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and 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 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! Amen.
"The suffering of Jesus is never completely understood until a complete examination of everything that was done to Him is considered. Even then it is difficult to imagine the depth of anguish the Lord endured because of sin. The cross is a focal point with its own horrors. As if only a passing remark the gospel writers say Jesus was scourged. This was an event that was beyond the pale of human suffering. Prior to the scourging and the nailing to a cross were the things done to God’s Son by the Jews and the Romans alike. At the judgment seat of Caiaphas the high priest they spat in the face of Jesus. Not one person but a group of people gathered saliva out of their mouths and projected it on the face of Jesus. Spitting on another has always been considered an expression of the deepest contempt. This is a most disgusting thing to endure. There Jesus stood. Spit covering His face. The face of God’s Son. The holy Son of God is covered in frothy spittle. And He does nothing." (Kent Heaton)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"A Wretch Like Me" Click to listen on YouTube Lauren Talley
The 4 gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3˝ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.
Here's an interesting chart from the Life Application Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible during this time. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.
Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47
Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
The Last Supper: Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room: Jn 13-17
Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30
The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
Yesterday afternoon I took a bike ride with a friend on the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail.
The restored Safe Harbor trestle with the Susquehanna River in the background. Bob, a friend that rode with me yesterday, waves down for a perspective of size. This rail trail had at one time been a very busy freight line for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Click on photo to enlarge
Click on photo to enlarge
Last night just before sunset the dogs enjoyed a long walk and running freely in the rye field across from our house. Our smallest, Rosie, is up on her back legs as she sees Ester coming down the trail with Mollie, our older dog.
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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