* Note: to those of you who have been following this blog, my apologies for this past hiatus. I have been finishing up a text on Reformed Theology that I began over the summer, so put this to the side to finish that… Thanks for your patience.
“Then they spat upon his person and they beat him. Some slapped him saying, ‘Prophesy to us, O Christ, which one of us struck you?’”
“And some began to spit on him and they covered his face and they struck him while saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the assistants took charge of him having been beaten.”
There are times, when reading passages, where I cannot help but be overwhelmed by a sense of evil that permeates the actions that the text is recording. There is no other way to put it and any word short of evil, wickedness, diabolic, or foul just cannot seem to come close to describing these events. Jesus brought peace and truth; he was received with blows and spit — he came to his own and his own received him not (John 1:11). How could anyone act in such a way toward any human being is beyond me, let alone this human who is also God. To what end does this accomplish or achieve apart from demonstrating the wickedness of human hearts? Yet, that is exactly the purpose. Jesus endured the wickedness of wickedness for us even before he met judgment upon the cross — he is the Passover Lamb and the Scapegoat of Atonement (Leviticus 16:21-22) for his people — for me — and for all who are trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Yet, let us take things a step further. Are we not guilty in the same way as these servants of satan who are tormenting Jesus? By our disobedience and intentional sin, do we not spit at Christ and mock his name? When we call ourselves Christian yet behave in a way that is consistent with a child of the devil, are we not just as guilty of hatred as those in the High Priest’s hall? I suggest that we are — and in fact, are doubly guilty because we know the truth as to who Jesus is. We may not have covered the face of our Lord and struck him with our two hands, but by the sins of our two hands are we not guilty of slapping our Lord. And, when we act sinfully thinking that God is not aware, are we not guilty of saying, “Who struck you?”
Loved ones, take these words to heart and ask yourself, does the way I live honor the one who endured this for me? If not, repent and turn from your wickedness, pursuing the righteousness of God.
“Destructions are planned by your tongue;
As a sharpened razor, you work treachery.”
(Psalm 52:4 [verse 2 in English translations])
Normally, we are not used to seeing the word “destruction in the plural.” Destruction is more or less total and the idea of repeating a destruction over and over seems rather redundant. At the same time, as David writes these words, he is communicating a great and deep truth when dealing with wicked people: wickedness feeds on itself. The wicked do not simply find their satisfaction in tearing you down once, but repeatedly they delight in kicking you down as you try and stand up. The question does not so much lie in whether they will be there with a boot to kick you in the head, but whether you are going to continue trying to stand as they continue trying to beat you down. Jesus said:
If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you. If you were from the world, the world would love as one in the same. But because you are not from the world—rather I chose you from the world—for this, the world hates you. Remember the word which I spoke to you—a slave is not greater than his lord. If they drove me out, they will also drive you out. If they treasure my word, they will also treasure yours.
To drive the word-picture home, David continues by speaking of the tongue’s work of planning destruction as being like a sharpened razor, slicing away all that it touches and being the tool of treachery. The word that we render as “treachery” comes from the Hebrew root hAm∂r (ramah), which means “to abandon” or “to betray.” Of course, the ultimate betrayal of all time is that of Judas betraying our Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, how often the actions of the world are marked by betrayal when dealing with believers in Christ Jesus.
More importantly, the contrast between the world’s oppression and the faithfulness of God should be made. While the world seeks destruction and betrayal, God builds up his own and promises never to leave or abandon us. It is sad that so often when people desire to be nurtured and treasured they turn only to those places that will betray and destroy. Of course, it is also sad that often the Christian church follows the world’s lead and betrays its own rather than demonstrating the love and faithfulness of Christ even when such things are difficult. Jesus said that the world will know that we are his disciples on the basis of our love for one another (John 13:35) — when we choose not to live out that love in fellowship, what does it say about the quality of our witness?
“And he said, ‘This is Wickedness.’ And he thrust her back into the basket and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening.” -Zechariah 5: 8, ESV
The contrast that Zechariah paints here is stark. While wickedness in the land both then and now is not small, for it is a great stench that rises up from the idolatry of our land, it shows the comparative smallness of wickedness in comparison to God’s goodness, holiness, love, and righteousness. We are also reminded that no matter how bad things get, God is always in control for he wrote the book in the first place. The lead weight on the lid to the basket is also a reminder to us of the weight of the law when brought to bear on sin. While sin may seem great, it is nothing, and those consumed by sin are simply being kept for the final judgment and punishment in the lake of fire.
We must be faithful in our witness to the world that there is hope and redemption, but that it is not in the basket, rather it is in him who controls the outcome of that basket. There is hope in Jesus and in Jesus alone.