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?” … Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. (Matthew 26:67-68; 27:27-31)
They Spit In His Face
The suffering of Jesus is never completely understood until a complete examination of everything that was done to Him is considered. Even then it is difficult to imagine the depth of anguish the Lord endured because of sin. The cross is a focal point with its own horrors. As if only a passing remark the gospel writers say Jesus was scourged. This was an event that was beyond the pale of human suffering. Prior to the scourging and the nailing to a cross were the things done to God’s Son by the Jews and the Romans alike. At the judgment seat of Caiaphas the high priest they spat in the face of Jesus. Not one person but a group of people gathered saliva out of their mouths and projected it on the face of Jesus. Spitting on another has always been considered an expression of the deepest contempt. This is a most disgusting thing to endure. There Jesus stood. Spit covering His face. The face of God’s Son. The holy Son of God is covered in frothy spittle. And He does nothing.
Not only are the Jews spitting in the face of the Lord they are slapping Him repeatedly. The pain of the beating courses through His head. His skin is turning red from the repeated blows from this person and that person. As the blows are administered the spit flies off His face. This way His head turns from a blow and then another. His hair is filled with spit. Voices cry out for Him to prophesy. Taunting the Lord God they mock Him to tell who is slapping Him. And they continue to spit on Him. His face now covered with the refuse of spit running down everywhere. Jesus does not call the twelve legions of angels to come to His defense. He stands alone for you and me.
Early on Friday morning Jesus is taken to the governor. Following His examination and scourging by the Roman soldiers Jesus is taken into the Praetorium where the whole garrison gathered around Him. The number of soldiers would be over 400 men with estimates being as high as 1200 elite men of war. Jesus stood alone. The might of the Roman army surrounded the Lord God and they began their sport. It is important to know this was after the horror of scourging. The body of Jesus is wracked with intense pain and blood loss. He is weakened. Ripping his bloody clothes off they place a purple robe on Him and a crown of thorns. They mocked Him with derision. And it happens again. The brutes of war begin spitting in His face. Time and again the phlegm of wicked men covers the face of Jesus. Taking the rod they strike Him repeatedly. Jesus reels from each blow. His head is drenched with mucus. Sweat pours down His face. He does not call the twelve legions of angels to His rescue. He allows this brutal treatment to continue. Finally tired of their sport they lead the man from Nazareth away and nail Him to the cross.
Spit. When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus down from the cross they washed His body. Tears filled their eyes as they cleansed the face of Jesus filled with spit. Wrapping His body in linen they laid Him in the tomb. God raised Him from the dead three days later. Man did all they could do to destroy Jesus but He suffered alone so that we could see His face. When glory comes and the Lord returns we will see His face. It will be the face of the Lord without the contempt of man covering Him. There will be no spit. It will be a beautiful face to behold. Thank you Jesus for suffering in every way that you did because of my sin.
It was not weakness which made Christ hang on the cross; it was obedience to the law of sacrifice, of love. For how could He save us if He ever saved Himself? (Fulton J. Sheen, Radio Sermon, April 6, 1941)