From Bridled Hostility to Vengeful Violence
Text: Matthew 26 : 57- 75
Suddenly, the already hostile Council became vengefully violent. Hostility was one thing, but hatred expressed in violence was quite another. The verdict pronounced seemed to have open wide the sluice gates of pent-up feelings of animosity toward Jesus!
“Then they spat in His face and beat Him;
and others struck Him with the palms of their hands,
saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?'”
1. “Then they spat in His face and beat Him…”
What brought this on? This was nothing less than sheer venom. To spit on anyone’s face was to insult in the worst possible way. It represented both defiance and despising.
To beat a Person like Jesus was just unthinkable and unconscionable! How could anyone even think of beating Him?
2. “And others struck Him with the palms of their hands…”
This is another way of describing how members of the Sanhedrin Council went up to Jesus and slapped Him in full in the face! What was all that about?
3. “Saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’ “
This was adding insult to injury. The Sanhedrin Council members, all grown men, many if not all of them were held in high public esteem, were resorting to such uncalled for activities! What cheap thrill did they derive from mocking Jesus in this manner?
THAT THE SCRIPTURES MIGHT BE FULFILLED
The only way we can make sense out of all that Jesus had to suffer is to bear in mind what He had said time and again.
“How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled,
that it must happen thus?
But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets
might be fulfilled.”
MATTHEW 26:54, 56
Jesus knew exactly what He would have to endure in order to carry out God’s plan of redemption. He would be expected to suffer for the sins of mankind. Part of that suffering, under the Sanhedrin Council, had just begun. Worse was to follow. He had spent much time in the Garden of Gethsemane in prayer, bracing Himself to drink this Cup of pain and agony. It was a very bitter cup indeed. But He must drink it all up – till the last drop!
THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH
What specific prophecy did Jesus fulfil as He endured the humiliation inflicted on Him by the Sanhedrin Council? Let us take time to ponder over an ancient prophecy Isaiah the prophet wrote several hundred years earlier.
“He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him.
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before his shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.”
1. A series of carefully-chosen verbs
Isaiah used a series of verbs to paint the grim and sad picture of how Jesus had to suffer. “Despised…rejected…wounded…bruised…oppressed…afflicted…” Each word carried its own special weight. All of them contributed to the whole idea of the suffering Jesus had to endure.
2. All for us
Isaiah did not fail to highlight the fact that the suffering of the Messiah was for our sake! Note the use of the first personal plural in the text.
“Surely He has borne OUR griefs
And carried OUR sorrows…
But He was wounded for OUR transgressions…
He was bruised for OUR iniquities…
The chastisement for OUR peace was upon Him…”
BUT WE SEE JESUS
In Isaiah’s prophetic text, we note that many did not esteem Jesus. Many despised Him. Are we guilty of the same disregard? How do we esteem Jesus in our hearts? What does Jesus mean to you?