Third Sunday in Lent – Saturday
Then did they spit in His face. – Matthew 26:67.
Now they arraigned the Lord before the Chief Council, the highest spiritual court of the Jews (the Sanhedrin), which had assembled before Caiaphas. And the chief priests and the elders and the council sought false witness against Jesus that they might put Him to death, but found none; yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none, for their witnesses did not agree (Matthew 26:57and 59-60; Mark 14:56). At last there came two false witnesses—one of them testified that Jesus had said: “I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to build it in three days” (Matthew 26:61) and the other: “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple that is made with hands, and, within three days, I will build another made without hands’” (Mark 14:58). But neither so did their witness agree together (v. 59). And Caiaphas arose and asked Jesus: “Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee?” (v. 60). But Jesus held His peace and answered nothing (v. 61a).
Then a thought occurred to the high priest. He said to Jesus: “Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (v. 61b). “I adjure Thee, by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God!” (Matthew 26:63b). Then Jesus said: “Thou hast said; nevertheless, I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (v. 64), namely, on Judgment Day. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying: “He hath spoken blasphemy! What further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What think ye?” (vv. 65-66a). Then they all condemned Him and said: “He is guilty of death!” (v. 66b). Then they spat in His face and buffeted Him, and some blindfolded Him, and slapped Him on the face (especially the servants), saying: “Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ. Who is he that smote Thee?” (vv. 67-68; Mark 14:65; Luke 22:64). And many other blasphemous things they spoke against Him (Luke 22:65), treating Him most shamefully!
Thus the Savior was condemned to death by the religious leaders of the Jews, because He had said, under oath, the absolute truth, namely, that He is the Messiah, the Christ. He was furthermore mocked, spit upon, punched, and slapped. This is monstrous, extremely so. But His condemnation is our acquittal. All of the physical abuse He endured was part of His work of redemption in payment for our sins (Isaiah 53:3‒5). We are thereby received to the fatherly bosom of God. Praise be unto our gracious Lord and Savior!
PRAYER. – I cannot help but praise Thee, my Savior, Thou True and Righteous One, because Thou didst permit Thyself to be condemned, in order that I, the faithless and unrighteous one, might be acquitted. I cannot help but praise Thee, glorious Son of God, because Thou didst allow Thyself to be disgraced and spit upon, that I, shameful child of sin, might be received by God and glorified in heaven. O merciful Savior, let the saving power of Thy suffering continue to be my comfort, strength, and the sole foundation of my faith. Amen.
Thou, ah! Thou, hast taken on Thee Bonds and stripes, a cruel rod;
Pain and scorn were heaped upon Thee, O Thou sinless Son of God!
Thus didst Thou my soul deliver From the bonds of sin forever.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be, Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.
Hymn 151, 2. (TLH)