Sunday, March 3, 2013

"And They Spit On Him"

I, along with hundreds of others in our church family, have been reading through the New Testament in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. So far, I have read through the first three gospels, seeing the familiar story played out over and over again. Familiar. Oh that it would never become familiar. There is something about living the story of Jesus' suffering through the words of those who loved Him dearly that gives the heart fresh eyes.

It is agonizing to try to imagine the physical suffering. The other, this suffering of One who knew no sin bearing the weight of the sins of the world, and separated for the only time in all eternity from His beloved Father, is simply beyond imagining.

My heart aches in the reading, even knowing it will all end in blazing glory. One small part of the story of Jesus' trial stood out in a fresh way. For some reason it was almost more than I could bear:

"They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on His head, and they placed a reed stick in His right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before Him in mockery and taunted. 'Hail! King of the Jews!'
And they spit on Him and grabbed the stick and struck Him on the head with it."
Matt. 27: 28-30

It was horrific - every single bit of it - but  "...they spit on Him..."  Something about it screams of  contempt and cruelty. It is, it seems to me, almost too much to bear. The image stayed in my mind for days, and then I read an article that put into words what I have been trying to convey:

"Compared to these things (Jesus' suffering), the spitting seems almost insignificant. Unlike everything else He suffered, this act didn't cause Jesus physical pain or leave a mark on Him....It is not the gesture but the motivation behind it that makes the action agonizing to me. Spitting, especially in another person's face, is a universal sign of hatred and disdain and therefore is considered taboo in many parts of the world. Spitting is reserved only for someone loathed."
Jaimie A. Hughes  (in "In Touch" magazine)

One small part of the story, and yet, for me, it is so very significant. We all long to be loved and accepted, and we are deeply hurt when we are not. How much more for this One, standing silently before His accusers, whose only "crime" was love. He willingly took the shame and humiliation we so dread so that we might find life in its fullness.

Such love overwhelms.