Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him saying, “Prophecy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” -Matthew 26:67-68
I used to play a lot of baseball. I loved hitting in the cage. I could spend hours fielding ground balls. Most of the skills I developed as a baseball guy have conceded to aging tendons and ligaments! Most skills, that is, except one. There is one universal skill that all baseball players seem to master and one for some unfortunate reason I can still do today. I can spit. I can spit in a variety of ways. As tempting as it is to explain it to you, let me just tell you all you need to know. It’s gross.
It is difficult for me to imagine spitting in Jesus’ face. But let us try for a moment to imagine the scene.
Jesus has already been betrayed by Judas and now stands in a sham trial before religious leaders of the day. They were looking for false testimony against Jesus so they could put him to death. Jesus responded to one of their questions in a way that displeased them. That’s when they move toward him in personal assault.
Spitting in the face of someone is incredibly personal. It can only be done in close proximity. It’s not like an assault from a distance. It would be more like close combat. It only works at close range—when you’re inside their personal space. It’s face to face. Eye to eye. It’s that close space where you would expect a hug, kiss, or tender whisper. Instead, Jesus receives their spit. Rather than love, he gets hate. There is personal, intimate disdain dripping from the face of Jesus.
Keep reading the story. There is a cross. An empty tomb. An invitation to live again.
Jesus walks up Calvary’s hill to die in our place. To die in my place. To love me. A spitter.
Prayer: Jesus, I tend to read the Easter story and see myself on the side with the good guys. I often fail to see that my sin is as offensive as the spit that dripped from your face. I am sorry. Please forgive me for the way I presume upon your grace. Forgive me for the way I doubt your love and power. Help my unbelief!