Sunday, March 8, 2015
The Awful Things Done to Jesus
Mark 14:65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.
The religious leaders had Jesus in their custody and were disgusted with him and his responses to their questions. The high priest tore his clothing in response to Jesus’ words which he received as blasphemy. The plan was to have Jesus put to death for his words but having to wait until morning for his sentencing the religious leaders began to mock him.
The behavior displayed should have been horribly out of character for religious leaders. Can you imagine that they began to spit on him? Then, in a terrible show of human depravity they tried to turn their king, their Messiah into some sort of circus act. Blindfolding him they began to hit, slap and punch him with their hands, taunting him to identify who it was that had hit him. This was their idea of “Prophesy” — a type of show.
Their behavior reveals what they really thought of their Messiah. They had no idea what it was that he could do for them and sadly, they probably would have been satisfied with a few “magic” acts. Their disappointment in his unwillingness to perform in the way they desired only made them angrier and they turned him over to the guards to be beaten. The prophesy of Isaiah was fulfilled in the awful things that were done to Jesus that night.
Awful things continue to be done to Jesus today and yes, even by religious people. You may ask when and where that happens? I think that Jesus already told us:
Matthew 25:40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Who is that stranger among us in which we find Jesus? It’s anyone that we meet along the way today and that might make us quite uncomfortable. There seem to be so many gray areas out there in the midst of the tragedies of the world.
What do we do with immigration issues?
What do we do with war in the Middle East?
What do we do with issues of human trafficking and slavery?
What do we do with the poor in our neighborhoods?
Dorothy Day, journalist and devout follower of Christ says, "The Gospel takes away our right, forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor." And maybe we could go on to say that the Gospel takes away forever any right to discriminate between those who are worthy and those who are unworthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
You see, even as Christ followers we are frustrated with what we see in our world and there is the temptation to respond like the religious leaders. We want to spit at those causing the problems in the world. We want to blindfold and hit them and ask them to perform for us in crazy ways. But what if the religious leaders would have treated Jesus with the dignity he was due? What if they would have begun to see God in him? Things would have been different.
What if we ask God to open our eyes to see Jesus in the stranger? How would we treat those who are moving in next door? How would we view the young lady looking quite lost at the truck stop? What would we do for the person of another faith that needs help?
The awful things that we do to Jesus!!! We are stunned because we can’t imagine treating Jesus the way the religious officials treated him.
We will all encounter Jesus in someone today who does not fit our image of Jesus. The religious leaders were angry that he wasn’t what they wanted or anticipated. Be careful that you have not created your own image of Jesus and you are missing him, or mistreating him along the way.
Lord, forgive me for the times that I have missed you or mistreated you, and may I have eyes to see you in the stranger among us. Amen.