Lent: A Time for Reflection
Friday, March 27, 2015
Matthew’s gospel tells us the crowd and the Roman soldiers weren’t the only ones who taunted Jesus as He hung on the cross dying. The two bandits who were crucified on either side of Him also hurled insults.
In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders,
were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.
He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if
he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s son.’”
The bandits who were crucified with him also
taunted him in the same way (Matthew 27:41-44)
Jesus not only had to endure the humiliating remarks of the religious leaders, He also had to experience the taunts of two common criminals.
In Day 33 of Adam Hamilton’s book, 40 Days of Reflection, the author says, “Jesus hung bleeding, naked, dying; yet there was no compassion, only the cruelty of words meant to break His spirit. In essence the people said, ‘You who thought you were really something—look at you now! You spoke as though you were the Messiah; but now you are naked, humiliated, and dying. You are nothing.’”
Can you recall being a child? You might have been taught to respond to taunts and teasing with “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But, that’s certainly not true. While physical pain inflicted on us often leaves a scar, so do the mocking words of others. The scars may be invisible, but they still hurt the same.
Hamilton speculates, asking the following questions:
- What was Jesus feeling as the people hurled their insults?
- Did He want to argue with them?
- Did He wish to hurl insults back?
- Did He find himself angry and ready to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?
In Matthew 5:11, Jesus taught His disciples, “Blessed are you when people revile you…and utter all kinds of evil against you.” Furthermore, he had spoken to them: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45).
While it might have been easy to teach those things to His followers, can you imagine how difficult it must have been for Jesus—while experiencing the cruelty that Friday—to practice what He preached? Yet, while hanging from the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus not only taught us how to act in the face of those who would ridicule us, He exhibited it while praying on the cross.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for the times your words have wounded others as well as to help you forgive those who have hurt you.
Read the following scripture today as you continue on this 40-day lent journey: Matthew 27:38-44.