The high priest said, “By the living God, I demand that you tell us whether you are the Christ, God’s Son.”
64 “You said it,” Jesus replied. “But I say to you that from now on you’ll see the Human One[g] sitting on the right side of the Almighty and coming on the heavenly clouds.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He’s insulting God! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, you’ve heard his insult against God. 66 What do you think?”
And they answered, “He deserves to die!” 67 Then they spit in his face and beat him. They hit him 68 and said, “Prophesy for us, Christ! Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:63b-68, Common English Bible).
When I started thinking about this post and I read the words “Then they spit in his face…” and my initial thought was, “I will use a picture of one of the Pharisees spitting in Jesus’ face.” I couldn’t find one. As you will understand when you read the next paragraph, I am glad I didn’t find one.
Then I thought, I will just use a picture of someone being literally spat upon. That I did find. I decided against that because, after finding several pictures online, they were all disgusting. I would imagine that is the point. I couldn’t bring myself to use such an awful picture.
How much must one human being hate another in order to literally spit on someone created in the image of God? I do understand that not everyone is a believer in Jesus or even in God. But, in the case of today’s lesson we are talking about people who at least liked to claim that they were faithful. These were the people who were at least trying to do it right. They were attempting to live by the letter of the law. They were trying hard to be faithful, And, they were failing miserably.
The Pharisees and members of the high council would have known that humans, all humans, are created in the image of God. They would also know of “The Great Shema of the Torah – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” They also knew that other law, you know the one that was like “The Great Shema of the Torah.” It is that one that implores us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This wasn’t a suggestion. The Pharisees of all people would have known this to be a commandment (not one of the ten) and therefore something they should strive live. As people who wanted to live by the letter of the law, they sure missed on this one.
I remember a few years ago when the Sadaam Husein regime fell a few years ago and locals were running wild, tearing down anything they could find that even suggested praise of the tyrannical dictator. I remember seeing people stopping at a statue of the late dictator and removing their shoes and used the shoe to give the dictator a beating.
What I learned from that is, beating someone with your shoe is the ultimate disrespect in Iraq. Receiving someone’s shoe is a high insult, just about the highest of insults. Spitting in someone’s face is probably a close comparison.
It just serves to remind me, when we show someone the ultimate disrespect, we certainly are not acting in a way of love. When we miss the mark on love of neighbor, John reminds us that we can’t love God and not love God’s creation. And, when we spit in the face of a neighbor or otherwise disprespect them, we are also disrespecting God.
Have a blessed day in the Lord,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved